The Greater Santa Barbara Royals ice hockey team is one of the high school sports programs that is relatively unknown to many students. The Los Angeles Kings organization runs a high school hockey league that many schools in Central California compete in. Last year was the inaugural season in the league and the Royals beat every team they faced to claim their first championship trophy. This year the bar is set very high for the returning league champions.
The Varsity Royals are coached by former NHL Player Steve Heinze. Steve played in the NHL for eleven years with a total of four teams; the Boston Bruins, the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Buffalo Sabers, and the Los Angeles Kings. Couch Heinze is using his vast knowledge of the game to educate a thriving San Marcos team.
“I am very grateful that I get to work with such great coaches such as Steve,” said senior team captain Chris Ewasiuk. “I feel he has always pushed us to be the best team players we can be.”
Another dominating Santa Barbara team is the Greater Santa Barbara Royals JV. This team is made up of students in 8th-11th grade. The team has only lost one game and is crushing teams in their paths. The JV was introduced this year to give players many practice and playing hours before they want to try to step into the Varsity league.
“The Junior Varsity league is an integral part of helping players get ready for the Varsity league,” said Steve Heinze. “Players over 14 years of age that live in Santa Barbara County may not have any other way to get prepared for varsity hockey. The players of this age that do not have the skill level to make the Santa Barbara Varsity do not have another option for organized hockey. If they do not make the varsity it is unlikely they could play for the travel teams that are located over an hour away. The skills and systems they learn at the JV level could not be improved any where else but JV.”
“Playing on JV is really fun, there’s a whole bunch of good guys on the team,” said junior Brady Rotondo. “We win a lot too, which is really fun. It really sucks that we don’t have a playoffs, but I know we would do well if there was.”
Come watch the Varsity and Junior Varsity Royals beat every team they face. They have very high hopes for the season and need more support. The team is always looking for more students to attend because this sport needs to be acknowledged for it to keep growing. The next home game is January 21 at 4:45 for Varsity and January 28 at 4:45 for JV at Ice in Paradise in Goleta.