Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 04/02/13 at 08:15 AM ET
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Wayne Gretzky is long gone from the Kings and long retired from the NHL, but the impact of his presence in Los Angeles is being felt more strongly than ever in the increasing success of youth hockey players who were born and trained in Southern California.
The L.A. Junior Kings AAA team, composed of kids born in 1996 and 1997 — Gretzky was dealt by the Kings to the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 27, 1996 — will play for the USA Hockey national championship this week in Pittsburgh. The tournament will start Wednesday and runs through Sunday. It encompasses the top teams from each USA Hockey district plus the host team, which this year is the Pittsburgh Junior Penguins.
The Junior Kings AAA team plays in the Tier 1 elite hockey league, which means it plays most of its games on the road. It has played 73 games all over North America so far, but that grueling schedule showcases kids to scouts from colleges and Canada's junior-level Western Hockey League.
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