Growth and fluidity are two words that come to mind when describing the state of the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League.
Launched in 2008 with but a single team, the league has seen vast change over the last decade.
The growth brought about three local teams under the banner of Edison and Huntington Beach high schools and Newport-Mesa.
All of the above drew from schools in the surrounding area, but the fluidity of the situation has changed that equation, too.
The Edison Chargers, last year’s ADHSHL Division 3 champions, moved to Division 1 when they became a pure team. The school no longer fields players from nearby Fountain Valley High.
Edison had the choice to stay in Division 3 or rise to the rank of Division 1. There are no pure teams, those whose roster is composed of students at a single school, in Division 2.
“I really think it all has to do with what we think we can do,” Chargers captain Ryan Osterkamp said. “I think we can be in this league and compete at a high level. I really think it was a good move for our team.”
Not too long ago, Division 1 comprised four teams, all of which would automatically be entered into the CAHA state championship tournament for the right to go to nationals. Those teams were JSerra, Orange Lutheran, Santa Margarita, and Bellarmine College Prep.
Edison has joined Damien and Tahoe as recent additions to the Division 1 club, bringing its number to seven.
The Chargers squared off with one of the original four on Saturday, that being Orange Lutheran.
Jacob Furry had two goals and two assists as the Lancers skated past the Chargers, 6-2, at the Rinks Anaheim Ice.
The Lancers (2-0) erupted for four goals in the second period. Furry opened the scoring on a tip in front of the crease 22 seconds into the frame.
Orange Lutheran’s veteran captain doubled the lead while short-handed five minutes later. Furry stole the puck from a retreating Easton Laird. Once doing so, he was all alone with Chargers goalie Savannah Gutierrez (15 saves).
Furry stick-handled his way behind Gutierrez, tucking the puck over the goal line inside the near post.
“Just wait for a hole that opens up,” Furry said of the approach with time and space to operate. “Just be patient, wait for the goalie to go one way, and you go the opposite way.”
Osterkamp crashed the net and hacked away for a power-play goal when Clay Bozanich threw the puck toward the net. The Chargers’ deficit was cut to 2-1 with 8:29 left in the second.
Any momentum gained from the goal was short-lived. Ryan Fischer beat Gutierrez along the ice on a breakaway, and Thomas Stift scored the first goal of his career 31 seconds later. The Lancers maintained the 4-1 lead going into the second intermission.
Speed through the neutral zone keyed Orange Lutheran’s offensive outburst.
“It was just picking up our feet,” Furry said. “Once we got our legs moving, we were good.”
Furry also assisted on goals by Jackson Ferry and Ethan Hirst in the third period.
Orange Lutheran’s previous captain, Chase Young, had more of a boisterous personality. Furry’s coach likes what he brings to the role.
“He just brings it every game,” Lancers coach Joe Adams beamed. “He’s very smart. Coaching him for the last two years, he’s really grown into his own as a hockey player, and he’s starting to learn what his role is.
“He’s working hard, similar to Chase. Not as much of a ‘go-go-go’ kind of guy, but he’s being smart with the puck. He’s not afraid to use his body.”
Osterkamp netted his second goal of the game with 7:51 left. He received a pass from below the goal line by Charley Lowe and snapped it past Justin Hill (18 saves). Austin Jones drew the other assist.
What the Chargers captain was most proud of had nothing to do with his offensive exploits. He called the scoreless first period the best that Edison (1-3) has played in its first four games.
“I really think that we put a lot of effort into that period,” he said. “We just did everything technically sound. Everything was textbook. Nothing really went wrong.”