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The 2013 U16 Southern Stars National Championship 


It's hard believe, but it's already the 10 year anniversary of the Southern Stars first National Championship win from 2013.  This "Look back" gives us a feel for what it was like to be a Star then and what a huge accomplishment it was for any program. This win was part of a philosophy that lasted a decade in Southern's storied program history carrying on with more National, Regional, and state titles.  Even better news is that we are lucky enough to have three people from that big win who are part of the 2023-24 Stars program. With some prodding, they've decided to let us in on what that experience was like.  We have comments from the two coaches that lead that team, Head Coach Erik Roos and Assistant Coach Rick Beckwith. On top of that, we also have a players prospective from our Stars current assistant AA Peewee Coach Justin Krochko.  This is what the emotion, pressure and, winning felt like at that level.   

Coach Erik Roos:

Looking back at the team that won the National Championship in 2013 you see the incredible character that team had and the incredible focus from everyone involved. I mean everybody, from the coaches, the players and the parents who all had a commitment to a common team goal. They believed in the system and quickly understood what kind of work it was going to take to win at that level. The players on that team had a willingness to do the little things to achieve that goal. They never put themselves in front of the team and they still had fun each day when they arrived at the rink. That's the preparation and focus it takes to win at that level. It also prepares you for those levels beyond Youth Hockey. Many of our players became collegiate athletes both in hockey, lacrosse, baseball and football. They always looked to be pushed in practice and in games, and they were one of the most respectful groups we have ever coached. As far as the actual games in 2013, that teams tempo, pace, and skill suffocated the other teams we played. They would come after the other teams with wave after wave never backing down. Relentless is the word to describe that team. 

Coach Rick Beckwith:

The biggest thing I remember during that year was how calm and cool we were during those games. When you are playing at that level you would think that the emotion of the moment would take over. It didn't, I looked at the coaches on the other teams and I saw that emotion. To keep winning over and over in tournaments like that you realize one thing quick. Panic kills and coaching matters. Erik and I built those teams out of a bunch of puzzle pieces, each player with a different skill or talent coming together to achieve success.  The mixture matters and luck always runs out. That's just how it works. 

Plus I remember, we ate, drank and slept hockey all that time. During car rides Erik and I would talk for hours about our players and positional play. We would talk about the other teams players and their tendencies. We knew what the other teams were going to do before they did. That's one of our biggest strengths. We always figured out a way to beat the other team.  A bigger task, is winning year after year like we did. Each season we had to turn over a new page,  with a new group of kids who had to gel in the same way our other winning teams did. We would have to blend new personalities all the time and get them to understand our system of winning. It was a heck of a stretch. The last part of coaching then and now is having the desire to give back, It's what keeps you doing it.

Coach Justin Krochko:

One unusual thing was traveling with hockey gear on a plane, that was interesting. I think I sent my goalie pads with one of the families that was driving out there. So the unknown of traveling,  being with your teammates and flying to Michigan to play hockey was something as a 16 year old you don't forget. Another thing was, we played teams from different states,  that wasn’t a new thing. But playing the best teams in the nation was definitely different and really cool. Some of my favorite hockey memories started in the quarterfinal game  against the #1 team in the country, I believe Ashburn. We went down 2-0 quick and battled all the way back. I would say that was the “moment” of that year. Then there was the semi-final game when we played #2 ranked Springfield. They had a 7ft tall goalie who was actually good. And I think a kid on our team named Matt Horton broke him by scoring a 5-hole goal to open it up and we beat them by 3. Then probably the craziest part was the finals when we played a “hometown” team and the place was PACKED. Our parents were just in a small corner together alongside that entire town. After the win the crowd was dead silent which was unexpected. It was great though, it was totally quiet, just us screaming. Looking back I can’t really remember all that much, it happened so fast and it was a whirlwind. But one thing was for sure, winning came naturally to that team. No matter if we were down goals to the “best” team we came back. And I guess that feeling of being able to overcome anything and to just have the belief of anything I do in life I can come out on top came from that experience.