Under the Hood: Valencia Flyers
From now until the season starts, we will be taking a quick look under the hood of each team. From players leaving, to new signings, we will preview each team based on what coaches and players have to say.
2018-2019 Finish: Western Division Quarter Finals
13W-30L-2OTW-6OTL (5th Western)
(Photo By Mark Mauno, WSHL Photographer)
The Valencia Flyers are not far removed from their days of domination in the Western Division. From about the 2014 season to 2017, the Flyers barely knew what it was to lose ten games in a season.
Valencia has been on a downward trend going from 40 wins in 2016-2017 to 25 wins in 2017-2018 and 13 wins last season. It was a difficult campaign right out of the gate. Former Head Coach Josh Berg resigned late last summer leaving the team with very little recourse. The organization named Justin Dyke as his replacement but the turnaround was very tight for a new system to be implemented.
The Flyers couldn’t string together a hefty win streak to gain ground in the standings, however, the month of February showed to be promising. Just as the playoffs were looming, the Flyers started to pick up wins against the West Sound Admirals, Fresno Monsters, Seattle Totems, San Diego Sabers, and the Long Beach Bombers.
Valencia finished the season just shy of 50 points leaving them at the bottom of the Western Division. They met a motivated Ontario Avalanche team in the play-in round and couldn’t steal a road win. Now, two seasons removed from a semi-final round, the Flyers will look to get back to their winning ways with former Assistant Coach Shane McColgan at the helm.
“The last two months of the season I came on as assistant coach,” Head Coach Shane McColgan said. “It was just to kind of observe everything and see what the problems were.”
“I started with one signing and I’m up to about 20 now,” McColgan said. “I’m going to sign two more kids here by the end of the week. The team is looking very good.”
But of those signings, Coach McColgan mentioned that he doesn’t expect Dylan San Agustin or Danylo Moroz to return.
San Agustin is a Valencia native and has played for the Flyers over the last three seasons. He has been a constant for the team’s offensive efforts but his intentions for a fourth year are unclear as of now.
Moroz lead the team in scoring and flourished with the Flyers after coming from the Lake Tahoe Icemen. Scoring 53G-54A-107Pts., last year, was good enough to make him the Flyer’s All-Time Leader in Points Per Season and Goals Per Season. With the status of the two players currently unclear, the Flyers are progressing with the mindset that they are not coming back.
“I’m in a good position right now and I think I have a solid core group that I can build around,” Coach McColgan said. “I’m just looking for a little more depth right now.”
(Photo of Tristan Warr taken by Mark Mauno, WSHL Photographer)
It is probable that we will see a completely new Flyers team, up front, driven by the return of Tristan Warr. He sits as the third leading scorer with 30G-14A-44Pts. Bringing Warr back allows the Flyers to have veteran presence and a player that leads by example.
Warr flew under-the-radar as Dominik Knap and Moroz monopolized the points. Even then, Warr’s productivity shows to have increased from 2017-2018. This year could potentially be a breakout season for him if the trend persists. Coach McColgan commented that Warr will likely play at center this year which will be different as he’s never played that position.
“Obviously he’s a very skilled player,” Coach McColgan said. “He just needed to fine tune a couple things in his defensive game. I’ve been on the ice with these kids every day and he’s showing a lot of promise. He’s going to be a leader on my team and there’s no doubt on my mind that he’s going to be a complete player.”
Coach McColgan named Michael Onda as another key returner. Onda only played half the season in 2018-2019 and is one of the few returners for the Flyers.
“He’s going to step up a lot this year,” Coach McColgan said about Onda. “He can play both forward and defense but I’m probably going to put him up top. He’s done a lot of hard work this year, shown that he’s grown up, and he’s one of the few returning guys I have.”
(Photo of Michael Onda, Right, taken by Mark Mauno, WSHL Photographer)
Brooks DiMarino and Lucas Demsar cap off the list of returners for Valencia.
Demsar is coming back for his third year in the WSHL and second year with the Flyers. Prior to his time with Valencia, Demsar was a part of the Tahoe Icemen. His diligence on the ice is one that you can take notice of and has earned him a spot in the core of the Flyers.
DiMarino will be starting in net for his second year with the Flyers. He has infectious leadership qualities and is well respected in the locker room according to McColgan. DiMarino shared minutes with three other goaltenders but as of now is the clear-cut No. 1 goalie when the season starts.
Brendan Culbertson-Bond, who spent time with Hinton and Cold Lake, was identified as the back up going into this season.
“I’m proud of those few guys. They trusted in me that coming back this season there was going to be a change.”
The change that Coach McColgan refers to is the nonexistent culture that has been missing in the organization. The winning mentality and Thorne Cup ambition that was once there is what McColgan aims for. Furthermore, accountability has not been there for the Flyers, as of late, but it is an element that can not be ignored this year with Coach McColgan being the main advocate.
“First I got to change the culture here. I don’t want to take anything else but winning with that main goal in mind of making the Thorne Cup. We totally cleared house from last year. We only have four returners.”
Western Division Feel
The Flyers had an established rivalry with the Long Beach Bombers as the two cities are about an hour apart from each other. With Long Beach no longer in the mix, Valencia will be in search of a new bitter rival. Obviously rivalries are born naturally on the ice, but McColgan says he knows Dave Hyrsky, Las Vegas Thunderbirds Head Coach, pretty well.
"I've gotten to know him very well he used to be the coach of a pro team I played for; He didn't coach me though," Coach McColgan said. "We clicked right away. He has a new team [Vegas] in the league, and obviously, Valencia has been in the league for many years, but, we have a 'brand new' team as well so it's going to be competitive."
McColgan feels like the Western Division will be very competitive this year but meetings with the Thunderbirds will be extra special considering the connection and, of course, the environment of being in Sin City.
Look for the Flyers to be a fast-paced team through the neutral zone and off the transition. McColgan emphasized on puck possession as a catalyst toward a more structured game. For the Flyers to be successful they will need each player to buy into the team-first mentality and, as mentioned before, play with ambition.
"We're going to be playing fast from the back-end up and it's going to be an exciting season for our club. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised on how well we do. The goal is to have that great start and keep the momentum going."
More news and details to be released by teams as the 2019-2020 season approaches. Stay up to date with the latest and complete Valencia Flyers news by going to https://www.valenciaflyers.com/