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O.C. hockey coach of the year: Mike Perkins, JSerra
Even if the JSerra hockey team wasn’t an Orange County program and was a smaller fish in a bigger hockey pond of Minnesota, Michigan, or Canada, it would be near impossible to over look the Lions’ accomplishments this season.
JSerra won titles in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League and Western Preps League, were CAHA State runner-up and U.S. National quarterfinalists.
The program can add another achievement to the list, as JSerra coach Mike Perkins has been selected as the Register’s Orange County hockey coach of the year.
“The kids really put a lot into this,” Perkins said. “At the beginning of they year, we weren’t expected to do a whole lot. It’s the culmination of a few years of a group that’s really bought into our program.
“I have to recognize the senior class. They’ve been through so much. I’m nothing but proud.”
While building to the most wins in school history with a record of 37-13-3, fifth-year coach Perkins and the Lions faced questions after a 1-4 start in ADHSHL play.
JSerra stuck with its rigid defensive structure and rallied to win nine in a row and finished their ADHSHL schedule with six straight wins including the playoffs.
“When you get into a season it’s a process. You have to build,” Perkins said. “We want to play our best hockey when it counts, and (take) pride in finishing strong. Our game is not skill-based. It’s work-based. We want to instill in our players a work ethic that pays off.”
The work ethic really stood out at Nationals.
After losing its opener, JSerra came back with a shutout victory over previous national champion Regis Jesuit of Colorado.
“In lot of ways, the coaching was done in years past,” Perkins said. “I didn’t have to coach a lot of X’s and O’s. They already knew it. That was the fun part. We dug in on making sure they were committed, playing hard and playing for each other.”