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Local Hockey Team to Compete in National Championship

Second-year youth hockey program produces winning team, competing in USA Hockey National Tournament this week.

Imagine your nights spent shivering by the fire at your local ice rink. Weekends spent on a plane or in a caravan to the next city, in and out of hotels and airports, early morning games, late night practices, and making it back to town just in time to cram for a Monday morning test at school.

This is the life of a travel hockey family.

It begins in August, sometimes sooner, with tryouts and first cuts, team meetings and slush funds. And if you are very lucky, it ends in March with a chance to compete for a National title. Out of 55,000 "bantam" level hockey players (birth year 1997-1998), roughly 700 players earn the opportunity to do just this. And Cumming's own Ice Bandits count themselves as a few of the lucky.

Enduring nearly 90 hours of practice this year alone, 9000 miles of travel to nine states, 13 cities and 60 plus games played, these young athletes feel that they are ready to represent Georgia at a National level. "Georgia has never been known for their ice hockey. We would like to change that and bring home a Championship," says team captain Drew King. After winning the USA Hockey State Championship earlier this month in a best-of-three series, as well as winning the SYTHL league championship, the team feels that the work that goes into becoming a championship-bound team is worth the blood, sweat and tears. 

Beginning Wednesday, the Ice Bandits will compete in Wayne, New Jersey for the 14-U Tier II National Title, and hope to bring the first USA Hockey National Title to the two-year old Ice Bandits travel hockey program. Says parent and owner, Sandy Ross, "We are very proud of how has been accepted by the community, as we watch all of our programs grow and continue to become successful. We are especially proud of our Bantam Major team for all that they have accomplished in the two short years of our club's existence."

Unable to compete at this year's week-long event are center Blake Harrie, who is recovering from surgery to repair a broken collarbone suffered in a recent practice, and Kelly Posada, the goalie who will be representing a Tier I female 14-U team at another National Tournament that same week.     

2012 Bandits Major Team: Corey Boettcher, Ryan Conley, Brendan Fergusson, Thomas Hardy, Blake Harrie, Drew King, Jalen Laboy, Thomas Orzeck, Kelly Posada, Bear Ross, Evan Scheiber, Alec Schneider, Ryan Shield, Rykaird Walworth.  Coaches: Steve Whitfield, Tim Gampel.

For more information on the National Championship visit the USA Hockey Web site.

M. Compton March 27, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Amazing!
Cris March 27, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Wow, what an accomplishment for these boys. Can't wait for the follow up story on the Championship win!

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