West Hills Wolf Pack rolling forward in 2013-14 hockey season

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After helping set the standard for play in the CIF-Metro Conference the past several seasons, the West Hills High School roller hockey team faced the inevitable: the graduation of a very strong senior class.

The Wolf Pack, East County’s lone entrant in the 18-team conference, posted a program milestone by winning the Kiwanis Cup championship trophy last year via a thrilling 6-5 overtime decision against the top-seeded Rancho Bernardo Broncos.

After helping set the standard for play in the CIF-Metro Conference the past several seasons, the West Hills High School roller hockey team faced the inevitable: the graduation of a very strong senior class.

The Wolf Pack, East County’s lone entrant in the 18-team conference, posted a program milestone by winning the Kiwanis Cup championship trophy last year via a thrilling 6-5 overtime decision against the top-seeded Rancho Bernardo Broncos.

Fast forward one year and it’s been a season filled with ups and downs—and pleasant surprises for West Hills’ head coach Steve Baldwin.

Monday’s 7-0 non-league loss to top-ranked Westview at the Escondido Sports Center leveled the Wolf Pack’s overall record at 5-5 on the season. However, there has equally been much to cheer about. The Wolf Pack, buoyed by a key 7-5 victory against preseason favorite Cathedral Catholic on Jan. 22, entered this week undefeated in Central League play.

“Cathedral had all their top players present,” gushed an elated Baldwin, terming the victory a “huge upset.”

Leading the locals in the big win over the Dons were Ryden Kerr with a hat trick, Robby Baldwin with two goals and Cade Frederick and Brock Nuckols each with one goal.

The victory boosted West Hills’ league record to 3-0 while dropping Cathedral Catholic to 3-1 in league play.

The Wolf Pack faced off the 2013-14 season on Dec. 2 with a 7-1 non-league win over Scripps Ranch. The elder Baldwin admitted pleasant surprise at the result.

“That a bit surprising since I consider this a re-building year and we have a very young varsity team, but the boys stepped up to the plate,” the WHHS coach said.

Both Ryan Vanoni and Robby Baldwin had three goals apiece while Cade had one goal.

Both Robby Baldwin and Frederick are freshmen; Steve Baldwin predicts both will likely be high scoring forwards as their high school careers unfold.

“The team really wanted to win that game since it was the first high school game ever played at the new RSportz Arena and we consider this rink to be our home rink,” the Wolf Pack coach explained

Kerr and Vanoni, both seniors, anchor the team’s defense while returning goaltender Miguel San Martin appears even stronger than last season, according to the elder Baldwin.

“We have a group of young speedy skaters — most of whom have an ice hockey background — who are determined to win the league title this season and make it to the CIF playoffs,” the Wolf Pack bench boss said. “We may surprise some teams this year.”

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