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Merger pays dividends for San Diego Junior Gulls

By Mike Scandura - Special to USAHockey.com, 12/13/13, 4:15PM MST

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Not all mergers occur on Wall Street. Just ask the San Diego Junior Gulls and the La Jolla Jaguars, whose merger in 2012 resulted in the formation of an eminently successful youth hockey association in southern California.

“There are four hockey organizations in San Diego,” said Junior Gulls President Randy Moy, who’s both coached and played at the college level and who in past seasons has guided Junior Gulls teams to the California state finals. “The Junior Gulls are the biggest and most successful. Our hockey director, Tevia Arlidge, and I are close friends, and we’ve coached in the Junior Gulls.

“Tevia felt it would be a good idea if the Jaguars, who didn’t have many teams, wanted to merge with us. We felt what we could offer them was a bigger structure, a more professional environment, professional coaches and in general that would lead to all of the kids having higher-quality teams on which to play. If you merge two programs, you’ll have more hockey players and better ones from which to choose. It helps every level.”

Bottom line? It was a win-win situation for both organizations. In fact, for the Junior Gulls, it provided them with another badly needed sheet of ice.

“It worked out really well,” Moy said. “It gave us more players, plus their players and coaches could join a higher-level organization.”

The organization that plays under the Junior Gulls banner also ranks in the top five in California for travel hockey clubs and has been a major help in developing entry-level players.

This season, thanks to the merger, the Junior Gulls (who play in the Southern California Amateur Hockey Association) will field the following travel teams: Mite (non-SCAHA); Mite Elite Development; Squirt A and BB; Peewee A, AA and B; Bantam A, AA and AAA; and Midget 16 AA and 16 AAA.

The Junior Gulls don’t have an in-house program, but the Ice-Plex does.

“The rink owns the in-house program,” Moy said. “A lot of the kids who participate in the in-house program strive to make it to the Junior Gulls.”

The Junior Gulls have been in existence for over 40 years, which makes them one of the oldest organizations of the type in southern California. But until recently, the Junior Gulls drew players primarily from San Diego County. That’s no longer the case.

“Now, we have kids who drive 1 ½ hours south to play on some of our teams, which was unheard of five or six years ago,” Moy said. “A lot of it has to do with the program’s reputation.”

The program’s reputation is enhanced by the quality of the players it’s “graduated.” More notable Junior Gulls alumni including the following:

  • Chad Ruhwedel who last season made the jump from UMass Lowell to the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres.
  • Boston College’s Thatcher Demko, who’s a product of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program.
  • UMass Lowell’s Ryan Collins, who played on the U.S. National Under-17 Team.
  • Randy Moy’s son, Tyler Moy, who’s a freshman at Harvard University.
  • The University of University of Nebraska Omaha’s Austin Ortega.

In addition, coach Martin St. Amour once coached the West Coast Hockey League’s San Diego Goals while coach Noah Babin, who played at the University of Notre Dame, also skated for the U.S. Junior National Team and later the American Hockey League’s Albany River Rats.

The 3-on-3 Hockey Challenge is held in April and May and involves at least six or seven teams with six players per team.

“It’s cross-ice and you’re playing three games at a time with one in each zone, without referees,” explained Moy.

Moy credits former Junior Gulls Hockey Director Larry Cahn with establishing the 3-on-3 Hockey Challenge.

“[3-on-3] always has been popular in practice,” Moy said. “The offense and defense are instant. There isn’t coaching, yet the kids love it and think they’re playing in a game.

“It’s a perfect mixture of fun and development and all the skill work you would want in hockey.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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