California juniors tearing it up

This week I take a look at four junior leagues – the BCHL, NAHL, USHL and WHL – where the most California players are located this season.

And Californians figure prominently in all four playoff races.

In the BCHL, the Vernon Vipers have five Californians on their roster as they battle for the Doyle Cup. That includes defenseman Kyle Bigos of Upland and forward Cory Kane of Irvine, both of whom are 2009 NHL Entry Draft prospects.

In the NAHL, Californians figure prominently in all four Robertson Cup quarterfinals. Forward Soren Jonzzen of Mountain View had four points in two games for St. Louis. Fairbanks forward Austin Block of Thousand Oaks also had four points in two games. Block, the NAHL’s leading scorer, recently decommitted from Air Force and figures to attract a lot of attention from recruiters.

In the USHL, Indiana forward Brandon Richardson of San Clemente racked up 10 points in a five-game, first-round series. Matt Leitner of Los Alamitos had six points in Fargo’s first-round sweep of defending champion Omaha. Several defensemen – Jake Newton of Lincoln, Loren Barron of Indiana and Darren Rowe of Simi Valley also had excellent first rounds.

In the WHL West Finals, Vancouver and defenseman Jonathon Blum of Rancho Santa Margarita is squaring off with Kelowna and center Colin Long of Santa Ana. Both players were all-WHL selections and have been drafted by NHL teams.

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Many California hockey alumni updates

My Alumni Report on this week spotlights several college and junior players from the state who are rising up the scoring charts in their respective leagues.

Chief among them are Ryan Lasch, Rhett Rakhshani, Chris Margott, Casey Wellman, Laura Veharanta and Kristi Kehoe in the NCAA; and NAHLers such as Austin Block and Bryon Paulazzo and USHLers such as Brandon Richardson and Matt Leitner.

I also take a closer look at just how much of an impact Californians are making in the WHL (huge). Not only are players such as Colin Long, CJ Stretch, Cameron Cepek and Jonathon Blum contributing points, but those for in particular are captains or assistant captains for their teams. And they are far from the only ones making waves in Canada, others include Mitch Wahl, Shane Harper and Tyler Maxwell.

You can read the Alumni Report here or hop over to www.calirubber.come

California alumni updates and catching up with John Blue

What ever happened to … goaltender John Blue?

The former U.S. Olympic and Boston Bruins netminder now pastors a church in Irvine, and he took some time out to talk with me recently for both the book and Excerpts of the interview include how a California guy landed at the University of Minnesota, how he made the Olympic team and which NHL stars of the 90s were the toughest opponents.

This week’s alumni report salutes the numerous players from California who are participating in their pro and junior leagues’ all-star games. The list includes Tim Kraus and Matt Ford in the ECHL, Kyle Bigos in the BCHL, Max Nicastro, Jake Newton and Brandon Richardson in the USHL, and a dozen players who participated in the NAHL’s Top Prospects Tournament.