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Spring Valley youth on the road to Alberta, Canada

Western Select Hockey picked its team to compete at The Brick Invitational Hockey Tournament in Edmonton, Alberta in July, with four San Diego athletes from Spring Valley, San Marcos, Escondido, and Vista.

Not all of them are on the same regular season team, but they all know each other. They have been trying out for this team for the better part of the last year. They just got back from Boston and took first place.

The team, selected by year of birth, 2013. Spring Valley’s Zak Rappleyea, 10, went to the 33rd Edmonton Brick tournament which takes place each year over the Fourth of July weekend at the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada. It has become the most prestigious hockey event for players at the 10 and under age level since the tournament began.

All-Star teams from all over North America attend this renowned summer event which offers many young promising hockey players, and their parents, a first opportunity to compete in an international super elite AAA environment. Many players from this tournament have gone on to play in college, minor league, and the National Hockey League.

Zak’s father, Vince Rappleyea said this event is the hockey equivalent of the Little League World Series.

“Zak has been playing hockey since he was 3 years old,” he said. “The closest rink to us is the Kroc Center Ice, so we have been part of the Kroc since he was 3. We gradually bounced around from rink to rink playing at a higher level as he has gotten older. Playing with local kids mostly. Then we got into travel hockey which took us further away than we normally play.”

Vince Rappleyea said in the past couple of years, they have had to travel further, Chicago, Boston, Winnipeg, Canada.

“Being where we are at, there is not a lot of hockey being played here,” he said. “Which makes it amazing that four kids making it for The Brick. We are doing something right here, but there is just not an overabundance of players in this general area. It is a huge accomplishment on his part to be recognized and picked for this team which pulls players from the Western United States. It is almost unheard of. Most kids that make it pro usually come from a bigger hockey market.”

Vince Rappleyea said he was athletic growing up, and Zak plays just about every sport when it is in season.

“I think that is why he is so successful in hockey,” he said. “He has done everything from baseball, hockey, and he just finished lacrosse. A big thing we do together is play golf. We picked that up during COVID and it is something we have stayed with.”

Vince Rappleyea said the Brick tournament is the absolute highest hockey tournament for that birth year.

“Zak played a couple of tournaments up to The Brick, which is comprised of 14 teams from all over the United States and Canada. This tournament is a weeklong tournament, running through July 9. We are guaranteed six games. There are two divisions,” he said.

Vince Rappleyea said they take the top three from each division that goes on to play, and that winner is chosen from those playoffs.

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