Good Sports: Fresno Junior Monsters

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The final buzzer of the game this past Sunday was a big one for the Fresno Junior Monsters Bantam A team. (KFSN)

The final buzzer of the game this past Sunday was a big one for the Fresno Junior Monsters Bantam A team. It ended a 3-1 Junior Monsters win over Redwood City to capture their first California Amateur Hockey Association State Title.

"The feeling when you win a championship and the time finally goes to zero, it's just probably one of the best feelings in the world," Assistant Captain Josh Russo said.

"They went out there in a big games and they stepped up," Head Coach Chuck Heuring said. "They don't have any quit in them. They play to the last puck drop and they just leave everything on the ice every game."

The state title capped an incredible season for the Junior Monsters that saw them win elite tournaments in Anaheim and Los Angeles, as well as a NorCal Championship before taking down State. Most of these 13- and 14-year-olds have played together more than half their lives, driving their team chemistry off the charts.

"We're like family coming out here; we work hard," Captain Nilen Peoples said. "Just knowing each other's chemistry and where to go and where to be."

"We're all known each other for a long time on and off the ice," added Russo. "We all hang out after games, we all know each other really well."

But it's not just about having great talent and coaching. The Junior Monsters take a lot of pride in the name on their jerseys, using the Central Valley's trademark work ethic to overpower teams with NHL affiliations in the Bay Area and SoCal.

"It's a good feeling to come out here in small town Fresno and just competing with these big towns, San Diego, San Jose, LA," Peoples said. "Just seeing that we're better than them in some key games."

And in turn they've given the community something to be proud of. At least at the Bantam level: Fresno is Hockeytown, California.

"We don't get the spotlight that football or baseball or soccer would get," Heuring added. "But the number of hours these guy shave put in this years and over the years to do what they do. I think that people need to step back and give them a round of congratulations because it was pretty amazing."

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