West Hills roller hockey team skates to CIF title

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The West Hills Wolf Pack roller hockey team capped a thrilling end to the 2012-13 CIF-Metro Conference season by capturing a 6-5 overtime decision over the top-seeded Rancho Bernardo Broncos on Feb. 27 at the Escondido Sports Center.

The Broncos had entered the Kiwanis Cup championship game boasting an imposing 21-1 record, with their lone loss to the second-seeded Wolf Pack. West Hills and Rancho Bernardo split their two regular season games, setting up a winner-take-all finale.

The West Hills Wolf Pack roller hockey team capped a thrilling end to the 2012-13 CIF-Metro Conference season by capturing a 6-5 overtime decision over the top-seeded Rancho Bernardo Broncos on Feb. 27 at the Escondido Sports Center.

The Broncos had entered the Kiwanis Cup championship game boasting an imposing 21-1 record, with their lone loss to the second-seeded Wolf Pack. West Hills and Rancho Bernardo split their two regular season games, setting up a winner-take-all finale.

The Wolf Pack (17-3-1) emerg­ed as the 13-year-old conference’s first East County champion.
“The (championship) game was fast, intense and full of surprises,” West Hills coach Steve Baldwin said. “Miguel San Martin, our freshman goalie, played like a seasoned veteran and had a number of saves that were simply unbelievable. All our players played their best and I’m very proud of them.”

Ryden Kerr scored the deciding overtime goal after goals by Rancho Bernardo’s Zach Semonian and Spencer Ridout had tied the score at four-all with 4:18 to play in regulation.
David Baldwin (three goals) and Zach Peters (two goals, one assist) led West Hills with three points each in the title contest, while Cody Boyer contributed two assists and Brad Majeski and Ryan Vanoni each picked up one assist. Peters assisted on Kerr’s OT game-winner.

The Wolf Pack hit its stride in midseason, finishing with a 15-game winning streak.

“We started the season a little shaky but, by the third week or so, we found ourselves and powered through the rest of the season, defeating many rivals by margins of 10 goals or more,” the elder Baldwin said. “What this told me was that the Wolf Pack boys had a lot of heart. They never gave up and made the necessary changes to start winning. “This was certainly a life lesson for the boys that I’m sure will affect them for a long time.”
The elder Baldwin felt that several other teams had an equal chance to win this year’s championship title. In the semifinals, played two days earlier, West Hills defeated Central League rival Cathedral Catholic, 10-5, while Rancho Bernardo edged Poway, last year’s Kiwanis Cup champion, 3-2.

“The league was very competitive this year with four to five teams all capable of winning the CIF title,” the WHHS coach said. “There were upsets every week. We were even upset a few times. But I think it came down to who wanted it the most. After eight years of not winning the CIF title, our boys decided it was time to end the jinx. No more excuses and play to win.”

The elder Baldwin said he felt his team won this year’s championship title not only for themselves and their school but also for the team’s many loyal alumni.

“We have 80 roller hockey alumni who all fell short a game or a goal from winning the CIF title in the past, but winning (this year) was a kind of revenge for all of them,” Steve Baldwin said. “Dozens of alumni phoned and texted — overjoyed with the victory.”
 

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