The Phoenix Firebirds (37-18-4) PeeWee USA Hockey Tier II team is going to nationals Wednesday through Saturday in Buffalo, N.Y.
The team of mainly 11-13-year-olds from around the Valley earned the right to participate in the 12-team event after capturing the Rocky Mountain District Championship on March 11 in Dallas, going 5-0 in the tournament.
“We’ve (already) played the best team in the East (Pepsi Gold ’94) and won and played the best team in the West (San Jose Jr. Sharks) and lost, but I’d still say we are one of the top four teams,” coach Kurt Goer said.
Goer is no novice at guiding champions.
His resumé includes being a USA Hockey master level coach, a six-time Rocky Mountain District developmental camp coach, a three-time USA Hockey National Festival coach, Desert Youth Hockey Association coach in chief since 1995 and the head or assistant coach of six Rocky Mountain District championship teams.
But his team, the 2007 Arizona PeeWee Tier II champions who practice at Oceanside Arena in Tempe, isn’t too shabby either.
“We have a first-year team — these kids came from six different teams last year and they have really come together,” Goer said. “It took a while to get everyone to buy into it, but they did.”
Goer is assisted by manager Jeff Berry and Craig Morten, “just a great assistant coach.”
Team members are Danny Breyfogle, Austin Broadhurst, Austin Carroll, Austin Curtis, Brad Dote, Jordan Foret, Dylan Hojnacki, Taylor Joseph, Tommy Kaddatz, Colin Kenyon, Bryce Lewan, Max Miller, Drew Newmeyer, Phil Pietroniro, Joey Raats, Henrik Samuelsson, Kenny Saran, Alex Taylor and Carson Vance.
Goer also boasts of his team’s cohesiveness and its willingness to rally behind its goalies.
“They never blame them if we don’t win and they are very protective of them,” Goer said of his netminders, for which he too had a lot of praise.
“They are two awesome goalies (Hojnacki and Taylor) who are big for the age — 5-foot-7, 5-8. They remind me of Curtis Joseph.”
Quite a compliment since the Coyotes goalie and future Hall of Famer has been on hand to see for himself, having attended practice and more than a game or two to watch his son Taylor.
There are also a couple other Coyotes connections. Broadhurst is the son of Phoenix’s head athletic trainer Chris Broadhurst and Samuelsson is the son of Coyotes assistant coach Ulf Samuelson.
The famous dads are “never a distraction and always have something positive to say to the guys — win or lose.
“Ulf Samuelson is like a big giant pee wee out there on the ice and Curtis Joseph is one of the nicest men I’ve ever met,” Goer said.
Phoenix will take on the Indianapolis Racers and Hatfield Ice Dogs in the pool-play round.
To follow the Firebirds’ progress visit
Eleven-year-old Claire Cadwallader of Fountain Hills was very successful in her debut at the Reserve Grand Circuit Champion of the 2007 Tucson “Horse Shows in the Sun.”
The United States Equestrian Federation-sanctioned, A-rated Hunter Jumper event (which ran from Feb. 7 to March 18) draws competitors from around the country. Cadwallader took part in only the final two weeks of competition but accumulated enough winning points to finish second overall in the Junior Novice Equitation 12-14 division.
Cadwallader — who competed in Junior Novice and Med/Short Stirrup Equitation divisions, Short and Medium Stirrup Hunter 12 and under divisions, and two Arizona Hunter Jumper Association mini medal classes — won one champion and five reserve champions in six days of competition aboard her 14.1-hands horse Farnley’s Lottie Da.
“From the earliest age, Claire never met a creature she didn’t like,” her mother Cathy said.
“She tried the usual gymnastics, dance, swimming, etc., but they required standing in line for your turn whereas Claire was continual motion. ... Combine a perpetual motion risk taker with a love of animals and horseback riding and eventually, jumping, was a perfect combination.”
Claire Cadwallader began English riding lessons at age 5, a year after her family moved to Fountain Hills from Michigan in 1999. She participates in two to three lessons and three practices a week with her 16-year-old pony. She is also the main caretaker of her pony (mucks stalls, bathes her horse, tacks up) when they are involved in shows.
Cadwallader, who “does have dreams of riding in the Olympics or the World Cup someday,” also competed last weekend in the “Spring Festival” at Westworld in the Scottsdale and will be participating in this weekend’s “Spring Classic.”
The Arizona U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program Boys 1990 team became the first boys squad in the state to advance to the national championships. The squad advanced to the championship game but lost to North Carolina 4-1 in the title game March 18 at Frisco, Texas.
In advancing to the championship, Arizona rallied from a loss in its opening match to go 4-0 capturing the Region IV Championships in Las Vegas.
Four members of the team are heading to Italy with the Region IV team in April (Danny Cruz-Region IV captain, Kyle Ciliento, Kyle Parsons and Nick Deleon).
For more information about the team visit: http://usyouthsoccer.org. ...
Ashley Votruba, from Chandler, won the Arizona State Archery Championship in the compound bow mechanical release with a personal best score of 1,307 out of 1,440.
Votruba’s score is her first over the 1,300 mark, considered to be the bench mark score that separates the good archer from the excellent archer. Votruba is a sophomore majoring in psychology at Arizona State. Scottsdale’s Robyn Repp, 16 and undefeated in state competition, kept her streak intact as she won her age division with a score well over 1,300 in compound bow mechanical release. Both girls are training with their eyes on the Arizona Cup, an international competition that will feature 280 archers from around the world. The Arizona Cup will be April 13-15 at the Ben Avery Archery Range in Phoenix. ...
The Phoenix Polar Bears PeeWee B team was 18-0 in league play, entering the Grand Canyon State Games this past weekend in Tucson. They went 4-0-1 in the tournament and won the Sonoran League Youth Championship/Grand Canyon State Games championship.
The team has also won the Littleton (Colo.) SlapShot Tourney and the Desert Schools Coyote Center Thanksgiving Shoot-out Tourney this season.
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