Over the summer, a tragic wrong-way crash killed two San Diego police officers in San Ysidro. One of the officers was also a youth hockey coach for San Diego Angels Girls Hockey. The team recently took home their first national championship in team history and they may have had a guardian angel on their side.
The San Diego Angels -- 19u team -- went 6 and 0 last weekend during the 3-day Roc City Girls Fest in Rochester, New York.
“For us, from Southern California to go back East, to Rochester, New York into one of the biggest girl tournaments on the planet and win the 19 and under division, is, it says something for sure,” San Diego Angels Director Alex Morrison said.
The win also said something about the team’s determination.
“I know she’d be super proud,” team captain Tiffany Anderson said. “I know that she’d also try to coach us more. You know, ‘put pucks in the net.’ That’s what she said a lot.”
The 19 players have gone through an emotional transition after losing their coach and San Diego police detective Jamie Huntley-Park. She and her husband, fellow officer Ryan Park, were killed in June when a wrong-way driver hit their car head-on.
It was devastating for law enforcement and the world of hockey. Huntley-Park was also a renowned hockey referee, who was being vetted to officiate ice hockey in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
“We’re called the Angels and now we have an angel looking down on us,” player Isabella Mardesich said. “She taught us so much about just being with each other and always supporting each other in everything we do and never tearing anyone down. And I think we really used that, that weekend. And that’s one of the reasons why we won.”
These national champs are now ranked top 20 in the country out of 144 teams. They took on some of the best players in their age group.
Since the summer, they team has worn custom patches on their helmets in honor of their coach, who strived to make them better players and human beings.
“Sometimes she was good cop, sometimes she was bad cop,” Anderson said. “She was very, very, very encouraging. And she would make sure that we don’t retaliate and stuff like that. She would always be like, ‘just put a puck in the net. Put a puck in the net. That was her thing.”
The Angels are now working to qualify for USA hockey nationals.
Sunday night’s regular season game ended in a 4-2 win over the San Jose Junior Sharks inside the Kroc Center Ice Arena.