Thunder hockey raising money for nationals

Desert Vista’s hockey team, fresh off its thrilling win over Notre Dame in the state championship, is preparing for nationals by fundraising for the trip to Minnesota. (JJ Digos/AFN Contributor)

Desert Vista’s hockey program accomplished its main goal for the 2022-23 Arizona High School Hockey Association by winning the state title.

It did so in dramatic fashion, coming from behind by three goals to force overtime and eventually beat Notre Dame Prep, a perennial club hockey power in the state. But the Thunder’s season didn’t end as the first team of any level to win a championship at Arizona State’s Mullet Arena.

Desert Vista is going national.

“It’s something we aspire to do every season,” Desert Vista coach Mark Moynahan said. “Now that we have the opportunity, it’s a great accomplishment and we’re looking forward to it.”

With its win in the state title, Desert Vista was invited to compete in the 2023 USA Hockey High School National Championships. The Thunder will compete in the Division I bracket and will face teams from across the country.

Moynahan said it’s an opportunity his players are looking forward to. But it comes with a hefty price tag.

The Arizona High School Hockey Association (AHSHA) pays for flights for championship teams to fly to nationals every year. That has helped to a certain extent.

The team has to remain in Minnesota – the site of the national tournament – for the duration. That means transportation, food and hotel rooms for coaches and players for up to a week. Even if Desert Vista were to be eliminated from the tournament early on, all teams must stay.

“The overall expense is quite high,” Moynahan said. “You’re looking at hotels and transportation for all the hockey equipment and 25 people. Those costs rack up really fast with having to feed three times a day.”

Desert Vista hockey has already held several fundraising events to help with the cost of the trip.

The team recently held a carwash near The Buzzed Goat Coffee Company in Ahwatukee. They’ve also partnered with several local businesses to have proceeds from meals purchased to go toward the team.

Additional fundraisers will take place this week and in the days leading up to and after their departure to Minnesota on March 22.

There will be dinner promotions March 8 and March 15 at Vero Chicago Pizza in Ahwatukee and March 25 at Spinato’s.

Moynahan said so far, the support has been great from the community.

“It means a lot,” Moynahan said. “We’re proud to support and represent Ahwatukee and Desert Vista High School. I know a lot of the guys that are on the team are really proud.”

The opportunity for Desert Vista to compete on a national stage is special for Moynahan and his players. They won the state title in dramatic fashion over Notre Dame.

Now, they aim to create some more magic in Minnesota.

“Coming from behind was definitely a good feat,” Moynahan said. “I still look back on it and it feels great. But right now, my focus is on the nationals. We’re going to be playing against teams that are really stacked.”

The 2023 USA Hockey High School National Championships will take place from March 23-27 in Plymouth, Minn.

Those interested in donating can do so by sending funds through Venmo to @AZHockey with “DV Hockey” in the memo section. Or scan the QR code.

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