The NorCal Extreme hockey club sent four teams to the international AAU Junior Olympics event in Huntington Beach in July. They brought home a gold and two copper medals as the top-finishing Northern California hockey club at the tournament.
In round-robin play, the team lost to Alberta 9-4, but dominated New Zealand (2-0) and China and Korea, both 8-0. In the quarterfinals rematch against New Zealand the locals won 4-0, but the team was cut short 6-4 in the semifinals against the SoCal Synergy to bring home the copper medal.
For the tournament, Joe Blakewell unleashed 14 goals and assisted for two; Sam Blakewell sniped seven; Dylan Lee scored four and one; Miguel Witham scored three; Noah Bristow contributed two and two; Max Landy tapped in two and one; and Michael Cognetti and Brandon Pacciorini each netted one. Goalie Nicholas Leacox held strong in the net for an 83 percent save rating.
The team got off to a great start against Australia and the SJC Uprising, winning 1-0 and 4-2, but Davis later lost to the California High Rollers and New Zealand, 2-5 and 0-2. In the quarterfinals matchup as the lowest (ninth) seed in the top-tier division, the locals faced the top seed in what was predicted to be an easy lock for Alberta, Canada. But the local underdogs fought hard, keeping the score close, stunning the Canadian players and fans into a frenzy.
A buzzer-beater shot by Ricky Pacciorini ensured an overtime period and had the northern neighbors sweating more. Deep into overtime, and during a power play, the locals finally fell 4-3 to the Canucks’ powerhouse.
In all, Danny Kumata scored three and added two assists; Pacciorini netted three and one; Joe Blakewell tallied three and four; Tyler Schafer contributed one and one; and Caleb Hermle added an assist. Ryan Kowta and Dalton Byard were relentless in the defensive zone, and Henry Campbell kept the puck moving up front on offense. Goalie Nicholas Leacox logged an 88.7 percent save mark for the tournament.
Playing as the Saxons, the team tied Hawaii (4-4), and beat the Arizona Outcast (9-4) and New Zealand ( 3-1), but fell to Alberta, Canada (0-7), and the San Diego Stingrays (1-4). In the semifinal game, the locals lost to Great Britain 2-5 for fourth place and the copper medal.
Paul Hermle scored nine with five assists; Caleb Hermle drove in six and two; Brian Varley notched two and three; Danny Kumata and Joe Blakewell each tallied one and three; and Jacob Muller added one and one. Goalie Eddie Berlin finished with an 83 percent tournament save mark.
Extreme players Nick Blakewell (10U); Sam Blakewell (12U); Nicholas Leacox and Joe Blakewell (14U); Danny Kumata, Caleb Hermle and Ricky Pacciorini (16U); and Eddie Berlin, Paul Hermle, Jacob Muller and Brian Varley (18U) were selected for Team USA Northwest for the World Cup division of the Junior Olympics event.
The teams played Canada Pacific, Team Alberta, Colombia, Australia, Korea, Team Hawaii, Great Britain, Hong Kong and the Team USA East, North and Gulf Coast.
The Team USA Northwest 10Us won the silver medal, the 12Us and the 16Us were 3-1 in round-robin play but were both eliminated after losses in the quarterfinals, the 14Us won the copper medal and the 18U team USA Northwest won the gold medal.