Newberger goes for national title with Golden State Elite Hockey midget team
Matt Newberger knows about commitment. That dedication earned him the chance to compete for a national championship on the ice.
Newberger and his California state champion Golden State Elite Hockey Eagles midget 18AA hockey team vied for the Tier II title at the USA Hockey Nationals in Amherst, New York, held from March 31 to April 4. The Eagles went 2-1 at the tournament in games against competition from Maryland, Ohio and Michigan.
Newberger, a senior at South Tahoe High, has spent the past eight-and-a-half months with this prestigious Northern California squad. Because South Tahoe doesn’t have a hockey team, kids that love the sport play for a regional club against more elite competition.
Practices were held twice a week in Dublin and Vacaville on weekends demanding drives of up to three hours each way that typically left him returning to South Lake Tahoe at 2 a.m. During that time, Newberger missed two practices — both due to snow — and achieved a 3.5 grade-point average.
This wasn’t the only year Newberger has honed his skills away from home, including a difficult decision four years ago to leave head off the hill and play at a higher level. He began his youth hockey journey playing for the Tahoe Grizzlies at 7 years old.
Fueled by his passion for the sport, Newberger has always looked to improve his game. He has played with tournament teams during the spring and participated in weeklong summer camps in South Lake Tahoe.
All the years of hard work and dedication culminated with Newberger being selected to play on a team that included players from all over Northern California. The Eagles play in a statewide league with most of their games in Los Angeles, and finished the regular season with no losses and one tie.
After earning the top seed for the regional playoffs, the Eagles blitzed through two weekends of the postseason. Three straight wins earned them the elusive CAHA State Championship on March 13 and the right to play for a national title.