Irvine Ice Foundation Adds San Diego Jr. Gulls and Lady Gulls Hockey Programs
ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Irvine Ice Foundation (IIF) today announced that it has added the San Diego Jr. Gulls and Lady Gulls youth hockey organizations dedicated to the development of players at every skill level. The Jr. Gulls and Lady Ducks programs will be based out of THE RINKS - Poway ICE, the official practice facility of the San Diego Gulls, Anaheim's primary development affiliate in the American Hockey League.
The Jr. Gulls and Lady Gulls programs join the Anaheim Jr. Ducks and Lady Ducks programs in offering competitive teams for boys and girls. The IIF youth hockey programs have 20-plus years of tradition as one of the premier hockey programs in Southern California.
USA Hockey recognized The Rinks, the Jr. Ducks and the Lady Ducks as Model Club Associations dedicated to age-appropriate, age-specific skill development, in accordance with USA Hockey's American Development Model. It marked the first time USA Hockey has honored three programs within an organization, while the program became only the 21st in the nation to be honored as a Model Club.
"We are thrilled to have the Jr. Gulls and Lady Gulls programs join Irvine Ice Foundation as we continue our efforts to grow the sport of hockey at all levels in Southern California," said The Rinks Vice President Art Trottier. "Adding to our footprint and programming in San Diego County supports the grassroots level while providing players with a positive atmosphere that encourages sportsmanship, teamwork and an opportunity to enjoy their youth hockey experience."
The Jr. Gulls have consisted of teams from 8-under to 18-under for more than 40 years, and are a member of the Southern California Amateur Hockey Association (SCAHA), the governing body for competitive and developmental youth hockey in Southern California and sanctioned by the California Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) as part of USA Hockey. The Jr. Gulls have developed players that have progressed to the National Hockey League, other professional leagues, NCAA, Junior A Tier 1 & 2, and the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.
Last season, the Jr. Gulls were the largest youth hockey program in San Diego and one of the top programs in California. Since 2012, the Jr. Gulls program has grown from 10 to 18 boys' teams, while launching an all-girls Jr. Gulls program (now Lady Gulls) that has grown to six teams in four years. More than 250 youth players participated in the 2019-20 Jr. Gulls travel program, playing at all levels of youth hockey.
The Anaheim Ducks and The Rinks have helped California surge to the fastest growth rate of youth hockey throughout the U.S. for the past five years. Youth hockey participation in Southern California has grown 40 percent the last five years. Since the Ducks 'Learn to Play' program began in Orange County in 2011, youth hockey has grown from 330 skaters to more than 4,600 annual participants (including expansion into San Diego). Since the program's debut, over 15,500 skaters have been introduced to the sport of hockey (12,500 youth/3,000 adults).
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