El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Phillip Brents

The San Diego State University men’s ice hockey team faces off second semester play with a weekend series Jan. 11-12 at the Joan Kroc Salvation Army Center against the University of Iowa.

The Aztecs ended the first semester of play with a 9-4-1 overall record, including a torrid 6-1 run in their final seven games.

SDSU finished the 2018 calendar portion of their 2018-19 schedule ranked 19th among ACHA Division 2 teams in the West Region.

As the sports calendar flips over to 2019, one of the most inspirational stories from 2018 still has a very recent feel to it.

Four days after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Nov. 12, 83-year-old Willie O’Ree returned to his adopted hometown of San Diego to a hero’s welcome.

The American Hockey League San Diego Gulls honored O’Ree, a longtime La Mesa resident, with Willie O’Ree Night at their Nov. 16 game against the visiting Bakersfield Condors.

The 2018-19 high school wrestling season faced off Dec. 1 with tournaments at Mar Vista and Carlsbad high schools.

East County teams made an opening statement at both events.

The Steele Canyon Cougars and Granite Hills Eagles finished third and fourth, respectively, at the Mar Vista tournament, now officially named the Bud Harbin Battle by the Beach.

Four of the top 10 mat squads attending the Imperial Beach tournament were from the Grossmont Conference as Grossmont finished in eighth place and Monte Vista finished in 10th place.

With four San Diego Section teams playing in state bowl championship games last weekend, not all the talented senior players in the section were available to compete in Saturday’s 29th annual Alex Spanos All-Star Classic at San Diego Mesa College.

But the talented players who were available put on a good show in their final gridiron performance in front of hometown fans.

This year’s game between the designated North and South teams highlighted defense, in particular, as the North won by a score of 14-7 to collect its fourth consecutive win in the series.

The Helix High School boys basketball team tipped off the 2018-19 season on the road and the Highlanders will remain there throughout the rest of the season due to the school’s gymnasium undergoing refurbishing.

All indoor sports will be affected during the current winter sports campaign. This includes girls basketball as well as wrestling.

All home matches will be played on the road.

“We will play two games at the site of the other team in league play,” veteran Helix boys basketball coach John Singer said.

The Patrick Henry High School roller hockey team continues to play its home games at the Skate San Diego roller rink in El Cajon. The Patriots hope to give East County hockey fans something to cheer about this season.

The puck dropped on Patrick Henry’s third season in the CIF-Metro Conference on Nov. 26 as the Patriots delivered the first upset win of the season by topping the Westview Wolverines, last year’s runner-up team in the Kiwanis Cup championship finals, by a 5-4 score in overtime in a game played at the Escondido Sports Center.

Though no East County high school football team won a San Diego Section championship this year, several East County players were a part of Cathedral Catholic’s Open Division championship celebration Nov. 17 at Southwestern College’s DeVore Stadium.

Playing in front of more than 8,000 fans, the second-seeded Dons overcame an early 14-0 deficit against the top-seeded Torrey Pines Falcons to post a 28-17 victory to collect their 12th section championship in their history and second Open Division title in the last three years.

The Helix Highlanders will represent East County in Saturday’s San Diego Section Division I championship game after defeating the host Eastlake Titans, 42-26, last Friday in the division semifinals.

The third-seeded Highlanders (8-4) will be making their fifth consecutive trip to the CIF finals. They will meet the fourth-seeded St. Augustine Saints (9-3) in this year’s championship game. Kick-off is 7 p.m. at Southwestern College.

Saturday’s CIF final is a rematch of a Sept. 14 non-league game in which Helix defeated St. Augustine 35-14.

Longtime La Mesa resident Willie O’Ree, who played seven seasons for the original San Diego Gulls in the Western Hockey League, has gained hockey immortality after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The gala induction ceremonies took place on Monday, Nov. 12, at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

The honor is a truly deserving one for the pioneering O’Ree, 83, who earned distinction as the first black man to play in the National Hockey League.

Grossmont College’s men’s and women’s water polo teams represented themselves well at this year’s Pacific Coast Athletic Conference championship tournament held Nov. 2-3 at Southwestern College’s new aquatics complex.

Five teams competed in each gender field.

Top-seeded Grossmont College defeated second-seeded Palomar College, 21-7, in the men’s final while third-seeded Grossmont defeated fourth-seeded Southwestern, 12-2, to finish third in the women’s field.