Charlotte Junior Checkers U18AA Team
Wins 2013 National Championship!
Charlotte, NC - On Sunday, April 7th the Charlotte Junior Checkers U18 AA hockey team won Gold at the USA Hockey National Championships in Hartford Connecticut. Representing North Carolina as the State Champions after winning the Carolina Hockey League (CHL), the Junior Checkers were determined to make history to become the first ever youth hockey team to bring home the title for North Carolina. And bring it home they did!
Coached by former NHL player Bob Halkids, this was the Jr. Checkers second showing at the National Championships winning the silver medal in 2012 in Green Bay, WI. "The boys were just happy to be there last year," says Halkidis "virtually coming out of nowhere to upset many tough teams to get to the final game - we really surprised a lot of people. But this year, no question, we were the team to watch."
In order to advance to the quarterfinals the Jr. Checkers needed to play three teams (the Alaska, New Mexico and Arizona State Champs). From there, in sudden death games, they moved by Maine in the quarters and then Texas in the semifinals. Coming into the championship game against the Nashville Predators from Tennessee, the Jr. Checkers were clearly the stronger team, but it wouldn't be easy against a very effective Nashville defense and solid goaltending. After a shaky start and down 2-1 at the end of the second period, the Jr. Checkers came out scoring a quick goal to tie up early in the third period. With momentum on their side and their enthusiastic families believing they could do it, the Jr. Checkers knew Gold was within reach. Within minutes two more goals got by Tennessee and Jr. Checkers knew they had it, making history with a 4-2 win for North Carolina. For many of the 19 players on the team, this ended their youth hockey careers in the biggest way possible!
Training through Charlotte Metro Hockey Association (CMHA) out of the Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail, NC, the Jr. Checkers played approximately 48 games with a record of 35 wins, 10 losses and 3 ties. The Jr. Checkers won all three tournaments they played in this year in Pittsburgh, Nashville and Washington, DC.
Jr. Checkers: Stephen Villa, Griffin Wolno, Alek Salfia, Thomas Grove, Michael Balzano, Bryan Holmberg, Max Guzinski, Michael Borst, Chandler Paff, Caleb Garritty, Brendan Logan, Alex "Sasha" Makarov, Marco Aureliano, Mark "AJ" Seffels, Kenny Mitchell, Kyle Baca, Eric Mura, Brendon Halsey, Jack MacDonald
Coaching Staff: Bob Halkidis - Head Coach, Bruce Wolno - Assistant Coach, Mark MacDonald - Assistant Coach, Brian Haaland - Goaltending Coach