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California pucksters continue to excel

March 15, 2011 | 12:52 pm

Continuing a recent theme applauding the success of local hockey players such as Nashville Predators defenseman Jonathon Blum of Rancho Santa Margarita, congratulations are due to Western Michigan University and the six Californians on its roster for the team’s playoff success.

Blum_200 The Broncos recently advanced to the Central Collegiate Hockey Assn. playoff semifinals and will face Michigan this weekend at Joe Louis Arena. It’s quite an achievement for the team, as noted in the Kalamazoo, Mich., Gazette.

Thanks to reader Bill Beebe, whose son, Brett, plays for the Broncos. Brett also played for the California Wave — the same organization that helped prepare Blum for the NHL — and won a championship with the under-16 national team.

Bill also included a link to a wonderful program Brett started in honor of his mother, Karen, who is battling cancer for a second time.

In Nashville, where the Predators will face the Kings on Tuesday night, Blum told Josh Cooper of the Tennessean newspaper that he owes thanks to former King Wayne Gretzky for spurring interest in hockey and, indirectly, making his own career possible.

“Honestly, I was young, but I remember going to one game at the Forum which was pretty cool … before they moved to the Staples Center,” Blum said. “But from what I heard and what I know, it made hockey huge in Southern California, celebrities going to games and stuff like that. It was pretty cool when he came there.

“Honestly, I liked watching the Kings, me and my dad were Kings fans, that’s what basically started hockey there, when Gretzky came to L.A., that was a big impact in Southern California for hockey. The Kings were very popular and stuff like that. We would go to games every once in a while. It was a pretty far drive, we listened to all their games every night when we could.”

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Jonathon Blum. Credit: Frederick Breedon / Getty Images

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