The Kenai Peninsula Hockey Association (KPHA) State Champion Midget U-16 AA Hockey team is on their way to Florida to compete with the best U-16 AA Hockey teams in the country.
It's the first time a KPHA Midget hockey team has ever earned the right to go on to a national competition, and the excitement has spread throughout the community. Last Friday's Spaghetti feed and auction fund raiser at the Soldotna Sports Center drew a capacity crowd.
Premier auctioneer Larry VanRay took bids on a myriad of items that had been donated to help fund the team's traveling expenses to Ellenton Florida, "Every time I say sold! Someone has contributed money to help get this hockey team to nationals, so I want to hear lots of applause every time I say SOLD," said VanRay. And bid and applaud they did, "Everyone has been very helpful and everybody has really gone out of their way for us and we are very appreciative," said head coach Ward Bishop.
A capacity crowd turned out last week to help send the KPHA State Champion Midget team to the national competition in Ellenton Florida.
Bishop got the team together just a year ago, "In the past we'd loose a lot of kids to Anchorage for A level hockey and I was hoping that by doing this with this team we would start a winning tradition that would give kids the national exposure that deserve and need to go on the junior hockey. This team really came together and played disciplined hockey when the chips were down and went out to win and they did," said Bishop. A USA Hockey representative has contacted coach Bishop to do a special article on the team from the Kenai Peninsula because no one has ever heard of the KPHA, "We're the smallest association going to nationals, the closest association to us at nationals has 1,500 members, that's the second smallest, we have 300 members. We'll be up against teams from Pittsburg, and Buffalo New York, but if this team plays the way we finished at states, we can play with anybody. We'd love to bring home a national championship, but whatever happens like I told the parents, the truth is these kids have already won," added Bishop.
The trip for a chance at the national title is estimated to cost some $30,000 for the team, "To put it in perspective if you just figure a meal for a team of 16 players two coaches and a manager is going to run about $1,700 and three meals a day for 7 days plus hotel and transportation. It was fun at state to hear everyone screaming for their kids to win in the last few minutes, and then real fast afterwards it was, oh man now we have to raise the money to go to nationals. But the community has turned out for us, everybody is really proud of these kids, and we really appreciate it," said Bishop. Donations are still being accepted at KPHA; any one interested can call the hotline at 262-1083 and talk with Mrs. Dewy.
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