Jr. Kings counting on continued success in 2014-15

With a banner 2013-14 season in the books, the Los Angeles Jr. Kings are already in full-on prep mode for the upcoming campaign - one they expect to bring continued promise, on and off the ice.

“We want to keep building on our momentum, no question,” said Jr. Kings executive director Kelly Sorensen. “Last year was a success on so many levels, but we want to continue to raise the bar.”

The curtain opened on the new season with three weekends of competitive, well-organized tryouts in June at El Segundo’s Toyota Sports Center (TSC) - the club’s home facility - that yielded 25 teams.

The Jr. Kings will ice seven clubs at the Tier I level (Midget 18U, Midget 16U Major and Minor, Bantam Major and Minor and Pee Wee Major and Minor); six at Tier II (Midget 18U and 16U and two apiece at the Bantam and Pee Wee levels); nine A/B (Bantam A, three at Pee Wee A, two at Squirt A, two at Squirt BB, Squirt B); and three at the Mite level (two Track I and a Track II).

“It’s such a great assembly of teams, and we’re fortunate to have such decorated and experienced coaches year after year who really spearhead the developmental success of all our kids,” said Sorensen. “From skills to tactics to their ability to communicate effectively with both our players and their families, we’re lucky to have some of the best.”

And when it comes to development, the Jr. Kings are keeping their foot on the gas in an effort to spur the growth, progress and exposure of every one of its teams and players by creating two new positions within the organization.

Louis Pacella, a seasoned and highly successful coach who guided the program’s 16U AAA Major team to California Amateur Hockey Association state and Pacific District regional championships last season - earning it a berth to the USA Hockey National Championships - has assumed the role of director of player advancement.

In his position, Pacella is responsible for not only overseeing the development of the Tier I players within the program, but also for their appropriate promotions to high-level junior leagues and NCAA programs.

What’s more, Nelson Emerson, who enjoyed a successful NHL career as a player and now serves in the Los Angeles Kings’ director of player development, will act as the Jr. Kings’ coaching/club consultant.

He’ll offer his player development expertise to the program’s Tier I coaches, regularly communicating with each of the staffs while providing them the tools necessary to evaluate each player on a regular basis.

“It goes without saying these two individuals are incredible resources as it relates to the development and exposure of our Tier I teams and players,” said Sorensen. “Both are respected throughout the hockey community, locally and beyond, and bring so much to our club in terms of getting our kids both ready to play junior and college hockey and recognized.”

The Jr. Kings are also adding muscle to their tournament offerings this season. Re-branded the Tinseltown Tournament Series, this year’s events include its Labor Day Festival (Aug. 29-Sept. 1); Thanksgiving Extravaganza (Nov. 27-30); Presidents’ Day Challenge (Feb. 13-16, 2015); and Carmen Starr Invitational (May 22-25, 2015).

For more information on the Tinseltown Tournament Series and to pre-register for any or all events, visit TinseltownHockeyTournaments.com.

“We have a great facility, a great support staff, and see so much potential in terms of growing our tournament calendar and attracting the best programs across North America,” said Sorensen. “We’re very much looking forward to building on our events, both in terms of size and competitiveness.”

And while delivering a first-class developmental experience to all their players is paramount, the Jr. Kings haven’t lost their philanthropic focus.

The program continues to showcase three signature fundraisers in a steadfast effort to give back to the local community while supporting the growth and success of youth hockey, both within its organization through the Jr. Kings Financial Assistance Program and throughout Southern California.

The club will hold its third annual golf tournament on Monday, Aug. 4, at Mountain Gate Country Club in Los Angeles - registration is open until the start of the tournament - and just weeks later will showcase its Jr. Kings-LA Selects Alumni Game, which is slated for Saturday, Aug. 16, at 2 p.m. at TSC. In December, the Jr. Kings will host their fifth annual Spaghetti Fundraiser at TSC.

For more information and to participate in any or all of the fundraisers, visit JrKingsHockey.com.

“We have so many great things going on within our organization, and so many committed, selfless people who help bring it all together, ” said Sorensen. “As an entire program, we’re truly putting all hands in the middle in an effort to make this coming season another winner at every level.”