It was another banner year for Tri-Valley Blue Devils ice hockey club, with two teams earning California state championships and another four advancing to the earlier Northern California tournament after strong regular seasons.
The Blue Devils 12 & Under, A-Team (12UA) and the 16UA-2 Team won the California Amateur Hockey Association championship in their separate divisions, making the Blue Devils the only club in California with multiple state championships.
The Blue Devils 16UA-1 Team, which won the NorCal championship, advanced to the finals of the state tournament but fell to their Tri-Valley rivals 5-2 in the title game in San Jose. Additionally, the Blue Devils had three other teams compete in the NorCal playoffs after the regular season: the 10UA, 12UBB and 18UA teams.
During their championship run, the 12UA squad was playing with teammate DJ Van Fleet on their minds. A goal-scorer during the NorCal tournament title run, Van Fleet had to sit out the state tournament after appendix surgery -- his teammates wore a No. 4 sticker on their helmets to honor their teammate.
The 12UA team advanced to the finals after going 1-1-1 in round robin play, setting up a rematch with the California Heat, who beat Tri-Valley in the opening game.
The Blue Devils jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Heat battled back to knot the game at 3-3. The Blue Devils regained the lead in the second period and then blew it open with four more goals in third en route to an 8-3 win. Luke Brandon scored four times in the championship game.
"This was a team that worked hard from day one," said head coach Bill Davis, who was coaching his 30th season overall. "They worked hard and improved as the season went along and even though adversity of losing DJ for the state playoffs, they came together and won for him and each other. It was a great season and a great group of kids."
The Blue Devils club focuses on youth hockey development in Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon and surrounding communities.