Michael Gomez of the Valley Jr. Warriors Eastern Hockey League Premier team is one of three players from California on the squad this year.
The forward grew up in Visalia, California about 190 miles north of Los Angeles. While hockey has been a part of his life for since he was a child, ice hockey was actually not his first hockey-related sport. At 6-years-old Gomez started playing roller hockey. It wasn’t until about age eight that he laced up and joined learn-to-skate.
Introduced to the sport by his father, an avid Colorado Avalanche fan, Gomez says the love of the game translated from his father, to himself.
Gomez spent the most of his youth hockey career with the Jr. Monsters until his first year of midgets. At age 16, he went off to play his first year of tier hockey for the Bakersfield Condors.
When asked about the difference between hockey out in California, compared to here, Gomez spoke about the larger presence the sport has in Massachusetts.
After suffering a beginning of the season ankle-sprain, Gomez missed a bit of the season but has 21 games under his belt so far. With three goals and two assists, the center-man says he likes to contribute by “doing the dirty work, getting in front of the net and in the corners.”
The 17-year-old is one of the youngest among the team and anticipates staying on the East Coast for a few more years of juniors with a long-term goal of playing college hockey.
Just a little over halfway through with their season, the team is focusing on each game in front of them one at a time and working as a team.
They will take the ice tomorrow night at home to kick-off their weekend double header against the Central Penn Panthers.
Puck drop is at 7:30 pm Friday and 4:55 pm on Saturday with both games at the Haverhill Valley Forum.