Patriots roll out third roller hockey season with upset win

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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.

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.

Matthew Voegel tucked in the rebound from a shot initially by Matt Russell with 2:13 seconds left in the overtime period to boost Patrick Henry to its season opening victory. The Patriot win was sparked by superb goaltending by Aidan Rion and Josh Mitchell, who combined to stop 21 of 25 Westview shots.

Patrick Henry opened up a 3-0 lead on goals by Tyler Daniel, Russell and Voegel. However, Westview did all the scoring in the third period to send the game into overtime.

Patrick Henry logged the only shot in the overtime period as the teams combined for 49 shots in the game – 25 by the Wolverines and 24 by the Patriots.

Russell finished the game with two goals and one assist while Voegel scored two goals and Daniel added a goal and assist.

Patrick Henry head coach Chuck Russell was understandably elated after the season opening win.

“Our goal in our third season is to improve on last year’s 9-13 record,” coach Russell explained. “At the same time, we have added six players who are new to roller hockey and we expect to develop those players to help us to be increasingly competitive as the season wears on and in future.”

The Patriots have seven seniors returning for the 2018-19 season, including their top four scorers from last year: Voegel, Matt Russell, Ruben Allen and Daniel. Returning senior goaltenders Rion and Mitchell will share goaltending duties for the team.

Brett Miller, Zach Thurman and Aiden Elswick made huge strides last season, according to the Patrick Henry head coach, and will play a big part in the team’s lineup this season.

The new crop of Patriots includes Tommy Alduenda, Tony Carey, Dylan Montes, Jackson Rayner, Briley Menzer and Sam Moorhead.

Patriot Nation

Patrick Henry followed up its season opening win with a pair of losses to the teams ranked high in the early season North County League standings.

The Pats dropped a 13-3 decision to the Rancho Bernardo Broncos, last year’s Kiwanis Cup champions, in a game played Nov. 28 in Escondido.

Patrick Henry came out on the short end of an 11-5 score to the Scripps Ranch Falcons in a game played Dec. 3 in El Cajon.

Despite the 1-2 start, the Patrick Henry coach said he likes what he’s seen from his team so far this season.

“We started off our schedule with games against Westview, Rancho Bernardo and Scripps Ranch,” the coach Russell said. “That’s certainly tough; it makes it a challenge. But it also sets the bar for us, and the level we have to play at to be successful. It makes us work hard.

“We have been experiencing growth. We’re excited to match up with these teams and play them stronger when we see them in the playoffs.”

Four players on the current Patrick Henry squad have been together since the team’s inaugural season. There has been definite growth, according to the younger Russell.

“It’s a lot stronger than that first season, there’s more kids coming in with experience, people are picking things up quickly,” Matt Russell explained. “The first year, everyone was working on basics, doing a lot of passing and skating.”

Through three games, Voegel led the team with nine goals while Matt Russell followed with five points on three goals and two assists. Daniel ranked third in team scoring with one goal and two assists.

Rolling along

The pioneering CIF-Metro Conference faces off its 19th consecutive season on the playing court in 2018-19.

Membership in the conference remains at 17 teams. The 10 Sweetwater Union High School District-sponsored teams are divided evenly between the Mesa League and South Bay League. The seven non-district teams comprise the North County League.

The Mesa League includes Bonita Vista, Castle Park, Eastlake, Hilltop and Otay Ranch high schools. Eastlake is the defending league champion.

The South Bay League includes Chula Vista, Mar Vista, San Ysidro, Southwest and Sweetwater high schools. Chula Vista is the defending league champion.

The North County League includes Cathedral Catholic, Escondido Charter, Patrick Henry, Poway, Rancho Bernardo, Scripps Ranch and Westview high schools.

Rancho Bernardo defeated Westview to win last year’s conference championship while Scripps Ranch defeated Eastlake in the third-place game.

So far, early season intrigue favors a shift in the balance of power in the conference this season.

Hilltop defeated Eastlake, 7-5, in the teams’ Mesa League opener on Dec. 4.

Meanwhile, Scripps Ranch improved to 4-0 on the season by slipping past Rancho Bernardo, 7-4, in a match-up of early season leaders Dec. 10 at the Escondido Sports Center.

Freshman Ben Ivey leads the Falcons in scoring through four games with 12 goals and eight assists for 20 points.

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