The Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League will double in size for its sixth season, going from 14 to 28 teams.
The expansion includes the addition of teams from Woodbridge, Villa Park and Capistrano Unified school district, the Ducks announced on Thursday. The 28 teams come from 19 high schools, a growth from 14 teams and 12 high schools in 2012-13.
“We've been doing this for about five years now and the expansion in the last two years — I know we didn't expect that much,” said Art Trottier, vice president of The Rinks — the development program that operates the hockey facilities for the league.
The league also added two teams from San Diego Unified school district and one from Bellarmine College Prep in San Jose.
The league is broken up into three divisions — Varsity 1A, Varsity 2A and Junior Varsity. Santa Margarita, which plays in Varsity 1A, won the USA Hockey High School Boys' varsity National Championships last season. Corona del Mar and JSerra are the defending Varsity 2A and Junior Varsity division champions, respectively.
The 2013-14 season begins Saturday with 10 games across the three divisions, played at The Rinks facilities in Anaheim and Lakewood.
The league started in 2008 with JSerra as the charter member, growing to two teams in 2009, five in 2010, 11 in 2011 and 14 in 2012.
Rick Hutchinson coached JSerra in the league's inaugural season and is now the coach of Woodbridge for its first year in the league. He said the growth of high school teams excites him personally, because there were not high school hockey teams in Southern California when he was in high school in the late 1970s.
“By creating this high school league we're creating more interest in hockey,” said Hutchinson, who grew up in Boston, a high school hockey hotbed, before moving to California at 13. “We're kind of creating a vehicle for new kids to grow the sport.”
Here is the divisional breakdown for the league in 2013-14, with asterisks next to the new schools:
Bellarmine College Prep* JSerra Orange Lutheran Santa Margarita Servite
Capistrano Unified* Corona del Mar Corona-Norco Damien Edison Huntington Beach Long Beach Prep Los Alamitos San Diego Unified* Villa Park*
Bishop Amat Corona-Norco Damien Edison JSerra San Diego Unified* Long Beach Prep Los Alamitos Orange Lutheran Santa Margarita Servite Upland Christian Academy Woodbridge*