Hockey is not the most often talked-about sport here in sunny So Pas but at least two local high school students excel at the ice-driven sport and have played at a championship level.
Moreover, hockey is growing in popularity in the region. In fact, some consider it the fastest growing sport here.
The grassroots movement in Southern California, fueled by the success of its three National Hockey League (NHL) rival teams, has begun to grow talent at a rate never before seen in the state, according to the website, yardbarker.com.
And according to the NHL Anaheim Ducks, youth hockey participation in Southern California has grown 40 percent in the last five years. The Ducks also have a high school league that has 41 teams. Per the Kings, there are 28 ice rinks from Bakersfield to San Diego, according to sports.yahoo.com
Although So Pas High School does not field a team nor does the Middle School, there are clubs that spotlight the game.
Caden Gordon, a South Pasadena High School (SPHS) senior, and Andrew Wong, a SPHS freshman, recently were with the Burbank Cougars in a statewide high school-aged championship game at Staples Center. A first, they say.
It was the first time the Cougars made it that far in the LA Kings High School Hockey League, according to an email sent to The Review by Monica Gordon, Caden’s mother.
The Cougars also qualified for the California Amateur Hockey Association state finals, pacing second out of six teams, according to Monica Gordon.
The two players have been playing hockey for years–Caden since he was eight–and have excelled at all levels.
As an example, Caden has played for the Pasadena Maple Leafs from 2008 to 2018, the OC Hockey Club from 2018 to 2019 and the Cougars from 2015 to this year.
“He is also a skater and trains with the Maxwell Hockey Camp,” Monica Gordan said. “Caden plays defense.”
Caden’s OC Hockey Club Team (Coaches Tyler Maxwell and Michael Pegula) this year also won a gold medal at the California State Winter Games in San Diego over the President’s Day Weekend Holiday, she said.
Moreover, Caden isn’t the only Gordon that plays hockey.
“Caden’s little sister and her friend started the Lil Kings program,” Monica Gordon said. “Seraphina Payton (Caden’s sister) and Amelie Miranda-Chan attend Arroyo Vista Elementary.”