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Old foes become teammates

BURBANK -- For more than 50 years, athletes from Burbank and

Burroughs have been cross-town rivals.

Like the Hatfields and the McCoys, or like oil and vinegar, the

Indians and Bulldogs aren’t supposed to get along, and they usually

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don’t mix very well when they get together.

However, one team is proving the two schools can coexist in

harmonious tranquillity, and it is finding success competing for a

single cause -- pride of the city of Burbank.

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For the first time this season, Burbank and Burroughs have

combined to form a competitive ice hockey team. The squad is a member

of the eight-team Ice Station Hockey League in Valencia.

Getting the players to come together has been a slow process for

Co-coaches Steven Placial and Patrick Moise. Last season, Burbank and

Burroughs were going at one another as rivals in the L.A. Kings High

School Hockey League.

“It’s really tough to take players from different areas, who

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played for different teams last season, to come together and make a

winning team,” Moise said. “It’s even tougher when you consider we

had only four practices before our first game.

“But despite all of that, I think we are starting to gel as a team

right now.”

Following a long process of tryouts and a lot of organizing,

Placial and Moise have been able to put together a team with talent.

However, before the team could hit the ice, there was one little

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detail that had to be worked out. And that’s when the players’

high-school allegiances came into play.

“When it came time to choose our uniforms, it created a bit of a

problem,” Placial said. “Naturally, the Burbank kids wanted blue

jerseys, and the kids from Burroughs wanted red jerseys. So we had to

make a compromise. For our home games, we wear blue. For our away

games, we wear red. This way, everyone is happy.”

With that problem solved, the next question was what would be the

team’s name?

“We didn’t want our name to be the IndianDogs, or the BullIndians,

or something like that,” Moise said. “So we just decided that we

would be called Burbank, not for the school, but for the city.”

The successful merger has been a lucrative one, as Burbank is

undefeated in its fist two ISHL games.

The team began the season March 24 with a 4-2 win against the

Granada Hills Highlanders. Monday, Burbank made it two straight with

a 5-1 win against the Notre Dame Knights.

Prior to the season, Placial expected Burbank to pack a powerful

punch on offense. However, he has been pleasantly surprised with the

fine play of the defense.

“I don’t know what has gotten into the defense, and I’m the coach

of the defense,” he said. “They are just playing out of their heads

and the goalies have been great.”

The defense is led by Bryce Sterling, a scrappy player with a

powerful shot. Chris Kukulka and Andrew Jones have also been

defensive standouts.

In goal, Burbank has two accomplished players in Ian Irwin and Ben

Bieber.

On offense, Jack Torossian is tied for second in the league with

six points (four goals, two assists) and Drew Mersola is tied for

third with four points (three goals, one assist). Other offensive

threats are Steve Placial, Tony Torossian and Brian Thompson.

Along with its success, Burbank is enjoying playing in the ISHL, a

full-checking league where games can often get very physical.

However, for players who might want to fight it out like their NHL

counterparts, there are strict rules against brawls.

“If you fight for the first time, you’re suspended for two games,”

Placial said. “And if you fight for a second time, you’re kicked out

for the rest of the season. This league takes fighting very

seriously.”

With a fine start and a team finally coming together, the only

fighting Burbank is expecting is to battle for a league championship.


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