Miners’ 18s regroup after advancements
By Matt Mackinder
For Greg Vanover, coaching the Pikes Peak Miners’ 18U AAA team can be challenging, but in the end it’s always rewarding.
This season is no different, as the program’s Midget Major squad has just two returning players from last year’s team in forward Christian Gums and defenseman Logan Parsley.
Vanover will lean on the pair heavily, on and off the ice.
“Those two guys are doing a great job, and I expect them to bring plenty of leadership to our locker room,” Vanover said.
The 18U team also has eight players who’ve moved up from last season’s 16U AAA team.
“I believe in this group and I’m truly excited to work with them,” said Vanover. “But, with all the new players to our program, I think we’re going to be a work in progress the first half of the season.”
From last year’s 18U team, five players signed with North American Hockey League (NAHL) teams and United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) teams, and goaltender Evan Smith cracked the roster of the Western Hockey League’s Victoria Royals.
Forwards Evan Butcher (Kenai River Brown Bears/NAHL), Ethan Solat (Bay State Breakers/USPHL) and Jeremy Solat (Bay State), along with defensemen David Dziezawiec (Islanders Hockey Club/USPHL) and Connor Hutchins (Brookings Blizzard/NAHL), all made teams in the NAHL and USPHL this season.
Forward Evan Dorwart (Missoula Maulers, Western States Hockey League) and defenseman Jack Shine (New York Bobcats, Eastern Hockey League) also advanced to the junior ranks.
“We pride ourselves on developing these young men into players who have a real chance at playing at the junior level and, more importantly, we take an enormous amount of pride in developing them into excellent citizens,” said Vanover.