GILLETTE, Wyo. — After winning the Wyoming state title for hockey, the Gillette Grizzlies’ varsity team competed in the Chipotle-USA Hockey High School National Championships.
The championships took place in Plymouth, Minn., from March 23 to 27, USA Hockey said.
Gillette Grizzlies played the East Islip Chiefs from New York March 23, Prep Hockey on March 24 and the Northwest Arkansas Ice Hogs March 25, according to the schedule.
They lost their first two games 1-9 and 1-5, respectively. However, they beat the Northwest Arkansas Ice Hogs 3-2 in overtime. They placed third in High School Division II’s USA bracket.
Sixteen teams competed within Division II’s four brackets. Prep Hockey, a team encompassing three schools from the northwest Chicago suburbs, won its first national title, Red Line Editorial reported. In the division’s championship game, Prep Hockey beat the Des Moines Oak Leafs, which was in the Olympic bracket.
Gillette Hockey Association Scheduler Josie Apodaca said the Grizzlies had fun. In addition to playing hockey, the team also enjoyed playing WhirlyBall, which is a team sport that combines lacrosse, hockey, basketball and bumper cars.
Apodaca said it was bittersweet watching her youngest child, Bryson, step out onto the ice for the last time as a high school player. The family’s been involved with the Gillette Hockey Association since 2006. Bryson’s brother Easton was the assistant coach this year. Apodaca said it was fun watching the two interact not only in a player-coach relationship but as brothers.
“Making memories is the best part, with the kids, the coaches, and all the hockey families,” she said. “We’ve met people from all over the US, and some have become good friends. It truly is an experience I will never forget.”
The Gillette Hockey Association varsity team held a fundraiser March 17 at Bell Nob Golf Course.