The 2019 Junior Club World Cup is underway this week in Sochi, Russia, featuring eight of the top amateur junior leagues in the world, including the North American Hockey League (NAHL) and Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL). Representatives from Russia, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Austria round out the eight-team tournament.
Last Friday, the NAHL announced its three captains for the All-Star Team assembled with players representing the top Tier-II junior league in the United States. The 24-man roster consists of players from nine different states, but the three chosen to lead the team had one very interesting characteristic in common: Jake Beaune (Livonia Stevenson, 2018), Austin McCarthy (Manistee, 2017) and Nick Trela (Trenton, 2017) are all alumni of Michigan high school hockey.
Amidst all the vast differences, unique skill sets and diverse personalities of an all-star team compiled of players representing all 24 NAHL organizations from the previous season; the one constant in all the chaos is an amazing coincidence. A significant badge of honor for the players, but also for the world of MI-HS hockey that they continue to represent.
Beaune was a three-year lettermen at Stevenson, recording 35 goals and 71 points from the blue line, and a captain for the Spartans as a senior. The 6-foot-3 defenseman finished his rookie season of juniors with the 2019 Robertson Cup champion Aberdeen Wings.
Entering his second NAHL season, McCarthy is slated to be the Topeka Pilots’ captain in 19-20 as well. The Ludington native was a captain for Manistee during his junior season, where he scored 64 goals and 137 points in three seasons.
A 99-born forward, Trela played his sophomore and junior seasons for Trenton, and scored 10 goals and 20 points in his first season of juniors for the Amarillo Bulls.
What an unbelievable opportunity for the players to travel to Russia for an international tournament and an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Having three former players move on in their careers and earn that opportunity is impressive enough. The story could end right there and it would be a great headline. I don’t know what the odds of having all three of them be named captains is, but I think it’s safe to say they’re pretty slim. What an awesome moment for the players and for high school hockey.
That’s the best thing I’ve seen this week.
What’s the best thing you’ve seen in high school hockey? Continue the conversation with me on Twitter, would love to hear your thoughts, comments, questions and feedback!