Growing the Game

Growing the Game... The Golden State Elite Eagles

by Taylor Chernisky

September 21, 2014

The Golden State Elite Eagles are beginning their third season in Northern California. This club is a joint venture between the Cupertino Cougars, the Vacaville Jets, the Tri-Valley Blue Devils, and the Redwood City Black Stars (who just joined the venture last season). These four clubs work as feeder programs for the Golden Stats Elite (GSE), enabling players to develop at their local club until they are ready to play at the Elite level. The clubs also utilize their connection to take advantage of the limited ice arenas in Northern California and use each clubs’ home ice rink for practice and games. The Golden State Elite coaches continue to participate and coach with their member clubs which helps develop a close tie between the four member clubs and the Golden State Elite program.

The idea to form the Golden State Elite organization came from a BBQ dinner at co-founder William Stone’s house for a group of club presidents. They had all met to discuss the current tier situation in the hockey world of Northern California. At that point in time, every hockey club in the area wanted to play at the Tier 2 level because parents and players would flock to the idea and because it was a way for the club to get around some key recruiting rules. During their BBQ, the club presidents developed the idea for the Golden State Elite program. After a full year of planning, the program was finally launched with teams formed for the 2012-13 season.

Since the club’s first season, there have been multiple standout players that have gone on to further their hockey careers. Alexander Stoley is a defenseman that has moved on to the BCHL to play with the Prince George Spruce Kings. Jasper Korican-Barlay is a fast moving forward that has gone to the NAHL to play for Topeka Roadrunners. Also, three former GSE Eagles are now playing in the KIJHL with the Kamloops Storm.

Coaches have played a crucial role to the success of the Golden State Elite program. Coach Larry Cahn has won several state titles, made many trips to Nationals, and coached several players that have gone on to the NHL. He is also a scout for Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL. Peewee coach Mario Morrissette has won two state titles with Golden State Elite and is also a scout for the AJHL. Coach Mike Holmes is another key member of the coaching staff for GSE. He has taken his Midget 18U AA teams to Nationals five times in the past six years. He is also a scout for the BCHL. Goalie coach Chip Cormier has been instrumental in developing the majority of the great Northern California goalies. Coach Aaron Mullagh is responsible for the advanced development of the program’s younger players.

Golden State Elite plans on continuing to grow at a controlled rate and hopefully develop more AAA teams. Their talent comes from their feeder clubs, so they plan to focus on helping players with their skill growth in order to be able to compete at the Elite AAA level. This program puts itself on the same level competitively as other area clubs by focusing on doing the right thing, continuing to field teams that have the skills to make the state playoffs, minimizing the season fees as well as the number of school days missed, and continuing to provide a path to higher levels of hockey such as Juniors or College teams. Each year, Golden State Elite showcases players with the AJHL as well as take a set of players to showcase events with the BCHL. Their goal is to continue to succeed so that they can continue to attract the top talent. They also want to build their program so that Golden State Elite is the first choice for Northern California hockey players. They are helping to grow the game of hockey by eliminating the need of their member clubs to focus on tier-related issues while encouraging and assisting them in building their house and A/B hockey programs, which they believe makes all programs better and stronger.

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