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2014-15 Register's hockey player of the year: Evan Camba, Villa Park
Evan Camba didn't want to conclude his high school hockey career without a league championship. The senior forward helped make that possible for Villa Park this season.
Camba, 18, was one of the Spartans’ top scorers in a season where they won their first Ducks High School Hockey League Division 2 title. That success made for a rewarding final high school season for Camba, who was determined to make his mark on the Spartans program once he made the team as a junior.
“This season was such an awesome experience,” he said “We all worked hard in every practice for that moment. I was just happy to contribute.”
The 5-9, 165-pound forward had nine goals in a strong senior season where he was an all-star selection for the second consecutive year. He also helped Villa Park to a 15-2 record and its deepest playoff run in school history. For his effort, Camba has been selected the Register’s Orange County hockey player of the year.
“The kid can shoot. He’s always been able to do that,” said Spartans coach Don Johnson. “But he’s a really good two-way player, which is rare at his age. Playing hockey is hard work, and not a lot of kids want to do it, but Evan answered the bell every time.”
Offseason training with Johnson, Ducks skating coach Larry Barron and private coach Chris Martin of the Barron Hockey Academy helped Camba’s skills improve. That led to increased confidence and Camba developing into the player he always dreamed about becoming.
“This year I was more confident in skating the puck up the ice, and confident of my decisions with the puck,” he said. “Those lessons helped my shot and speed get better, and my hockey IQ grew.”
Johnson, who has conducted private lessons with Camba since elementary school, said Camba’s leadership was key to the Spartans’ success.
“We didn’t have any captains on the team, but he was my captain,” said Johnson. “He’s a leader. He wasn’t very vocal, but he led by example. His work ethic is second to none.”
That leadership was never more exemplified than in the Division 2 championship game. Facing a Capistrano United squad that had manhandled the Spartans twice in the regular season and knocked them out of last year’s playoffs, Villa Park turned in a masterful effort, edging the Coyotes, 5-3.
With the result of that game still undecided, Camba provided the final blow by scoring the team’s last goal on a wrist shot from the point in the third period.
“That was definitely one of the biggest goals I have ever scored,” said Camba. “I knew as soon as I scored we were going to win. We had quite a few seniors on the team that wanted to end their career with a victory, especially over (Capistrano United). We just wanted it more.”
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