If measuring athletic success comes down to winning championships, the Sobrato High roller hockey team can rightfully lay claim as the top high school sports team in the Central Coast Section—and perhaps any section in California.
In the recently completed 2022-2023 school year, the Bulldogs won all three championships spanning the fall, winter and spring seasons. And while they didn’t go undefeated in any of the three seasons, they were dominant to the point that keeping the motivation up was the toughest task facing coach Dave Iwanaga.
“The team was talented and experienced, and the challenge was keeping them motivated all year,” he said. “You play that many seasons and that many games, it’s hard to bring your top game every weekend in every season. So there were some lulls and things like that, keeping the kids motivated to play especially during the playoffs. But they came through great and basically when it counted they really stepped up.”
In the most recent spring season, Sobrato rolled to a 10-3 win over Valley Christian in the Division I varsity championship final at the Silver Creek Sportsplex in San Jose on May 21. The result capped off a 9-1 spring season and put an exclamation point on the program’s tremendous success.
Sobrato beat Valley Christian 3-1 in the fall title contest Nov. 19 and edged 805 San Luis Obispo 4-3 in overtime for the winter season championship March 11.
“I’d say winning all three seasons is difficult to do,” Iwanaga said matter of factly.
The Sobrato roster includes Luke Iwanaga, Lowen Provost, Joe Lee, Abram Parlove, Zack Tran, Thomas Minor, Joseph Iniguez, Matthew Holly, Mac Redmon, Johnny Arruda, Evan Lopez, Logan Woodring and goaltenders Branden Bedley and Adam Meyberg. Tom Holly and Patrick Bedley were the assistant coaches.
With a deep 14-player roster, Iwanaga typically got to roll through all of his lines and use everyone for most of the regular-season games. The rotations get shorter in the playoffs, of course, but regardless everyone plays and contributes at some point in the season.
Iwanaga said five seniors in particular—his son Luke, Provost, Lee, Tran and Parlove—led the way both on and off the rink.
“This year compared to last year since a lot of our top players were seniors, we relied more on them to guide the team,” Iwanaga said. “This year those five seniors kind of led the way as far as keeping the team on the right track and being pretty experienced, so we relied on their knowledge and skills. I probably coached less X’s and O’s compared to last [school] year.”
Provost made a triumphant return after missing the 2021-2022 season due to injury. He was the team’s top scorer and scored three goals in the final minute against San Luis Obispo in the winter season championship game to help Sobrato win the title.
Before Provost went on his scoring binge, the Bulldogs trailed by two goals.
“Lowen was pretty clutch,” Iwanaga said.
Luke was the team’s best puck handler and possessed great hands with deft stick skills.
“He was like the point guard on our team,” Dave said. “Luke had the puck on his hands most of the time for us.”
Iwanaga said Lee infused the team with his energetic play and brought plenty of grit, while Parlove was a versatile forward who did whatever it took to help the team. Tran was the stay at home defenseman who shut down opposing forwards and proved to be a calm and smart player, Iwanaga said.
A championship roller hockey team needs a top-flight goalie, and that’s what Sobrato had in Bedley.
“He was the top goalie in Division I,” Iwanaga said. “Very athletic, dependable and stepped up when we needed him to.”
Sobrato plays in a league with Valley Christian, 805 San Luis Obispo, Bellarmine and Pioneer. The Bulldogs also won multiple championships in the 2021-2022 school year and combine that with what happened this past school year, it’s apparent they have a special thing going.
“I’m not sure why Sobrato has so many good players [but it’s great for us and Morgan Hill],” Iwanaga said. “The proximity [to the Sportsplex] is fairly close, and some of the kids who play ice hockey play roller hockey as well. It’s a little more free flowing type of game.”