Cal hockey team dominates


The only Bay Area team hotter than the Golden State Warriors these days is one from Cal High.

The San Ramon Grizzlies, Cal High’s ice hockey club, earned its 18th consecutive win dating back two seasons by routing the Danville Wolves 14-4 on Dec. 6.

A highlight of the game was the end of the first period when junior Tiegan Bagnall raced to the opposing side, made an unexpected 180 turn, and scored. The crowd went wild as the Grizzlies’ ninth goal of the opening period gave them a 9-0 lead.

The Wolves, which features San Ramon Valley High players, scored their first goal in the second period, but the Grizzlies were still leading 11-1 by the period’s end.

“The kids are all extremely talented players,” said co-coach Jeff Martin, who is also the district’s network administrator and site technical support.

On Oct. 25 and 26, the Grizzlies played against  De La Salle, Livermore/Granada, and two Monte Vista High School teams in a tournament in Vacaville. By the end of the weekend, the Grizzlies had four additional wins under their belts.

But this abundant success is nothing new. Last year, the team ranked No. 1 in the California Pure High School League after defeating Dublin High’s Gaels in the February championship.

Currently, Cal is ranked second in the league with a 6-0 record, Martin said. Dublin is in the lead by two wins, but that could change soon.

The Grizzlies are scheduled to face the Gaels again this Saturday, and the players are confident that they will come out on top.

“I know we have the ability to [win],” Bagnall said. “It’s definitely going to be a fun game.”

The players hit the ice at Dublin Iceland at 7:45 p.m. Admission is free.

Some of the Grizzly success might be a result of natural talent, but it also stems from hard work and years of training.

Most of the 17 team members have been on the ice since they were young and also simultaneously play for outside leagues.

Senior Mason Friedman has been an ice hockey player for nine years now and currently plays for the California Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA). He has played for the Grizzlies since his freshman year, which is when the league first started in 2011.

“We were really bad,” said Friedman. “We lost a lot.”

The league and the team have come a long way since then. The league was originally composed of four local teams, but it has expanded to include a total of 10 teams.

Friedman says the league has become more organized, and that their team has also gained several talented players. He  has also noticed that the team’s fan base is growing exponentially with each game.

“It’s pretty cool that people come out to support us,” he said. “At the last [Dec. 6] game there were maybe 50 people from Cal, including students and parents.”

He also recalls that the building was packed at the championship game last year.

Bagnall was part of that championship team last season.Like Friedman, Bagnall joined the team in his freshman year.

He has played hockey for 11 years. In addition to playing for Cal, Bagnall also plays for the Tri-Valley Blue Devils.

“My mom took me to a hockey game when I was young and asked if I wanted to play,” Bagnall said. “I thought it would be a good idea. It looked fun.”

But hockey is not the only sport for all team members. This is the second year of hockey for freshman Amanda Mount, one of three girls currently playing for the Grizzlies.

“I started out with figure skating,” she said, “but changed my mind because I wanted to play a team sport.”

Mount had been a figure skater since she was seven.

It’s certainly no easy feat that 17 players of various skill levels are able to meet on game day and bring home 18 consecutive victories without once meeting to practice together.

Some of the credit may go to the Grizzlies’ coaches, Martin and Ted Lyijynen, the father of senior player Alex Lyijynen.

Late February brings both the end of the season and championship game. When asked if the Grizzlies would reach the title game, Friedman didn’t hesitate.

“Yeah, we’ll go,” Friedman said.