Santa Barbara Royals Win League Championship in Comeback Victory, Prepare for State
The High School Hockey Team Has Won 17 Straight, Including Championship Game at Crypto.com Arena
The Santa Barbara Royals ice hockey team continued its magical ride to end the season with a 6-3 comeback victory on the ice at the home of the Los Angeles Kings, Crypto.com Arena, last Sunday, clinching the Los Angeles Kings High School Hockey Championship for the third time since the team started participating in the league in 2015.
The team’s 17th win in a row did not come easy; after the Royals jumped ahead in the first period with a goal from sophomore Eli Heinze, assisted by Addison Headley, the West Ranch Wildcats scored three unanswered goals, forcing Santa Barbara head coach Steve Heinze to call a time-out early in the second period with the score at 1-3.
The Wildcats were the only team to beat the Royals this season — way back in their first meeting last September — but since then, Santa Barbara caught fire, winning all 16 games heading into the league final, including two victories over West Ranch when the teams met up again in November and February.
During the instrumental timeout, Coach Heinze said he reminded the team that this was an “opportunity they would remember for a lifetime,” and that they had displayed the skills to win with hard work and effort all season long.
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Eli Heinze, the coach’s son, responded with another goal shortly after, with six minutes left in the second period. By the end of the second period, Colin Bowman hit the game-tying goal, sending the teams into the final frame locked up 3-3.
Royals star goalie — Los Angeles High School League’s Luc Robitaille Freshman of the Year Jack Finneran — shut down the Wildcats for the remainder of the game, while senior Marcus Flowers and the league’s Wayne Gretzky Most Valuable Player Nick Bowman added a goal each. Heinze earned a hat trick with a goal in the last minute, sealing the 6-3 victory and earning player of the game honors.
The team started playing in 2015, when Ice in Paradise was opened in Goleta. The Royals won the Los Angeles Kings High School Hockey Championship back-to-back in 2015-16 and 2016-17, and with the victory on Sunday, the program now has three league championships in seven years.
The Royals are made up of high school hockey players from throughout Santa Barbara County and includes two female team members and four sets of siblings: Kennedy and Calvin Frisell and Reese and Johnny Niemela from San Marcos, brothers Nick and Colin Bowman from Santa Ynez, and Daniel and Jack Finneran from Dos Pueblos.
Santa Barbara is now 17-1 this season and will now prepare to head to the State Championships on March 25 in Riverside.
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