With a new season on the horizon, the Los Angeles Jr. Kings are excited to usher in four fresh - but familiar - faces behind the bench.
Ray Macias, a former Jr. King, will serve as head coach of the program’s 16U AA team; Ryan Santana the club’s 12U B squad; Shane McColgan (pictured), another distinguished Jr. Kings alum, the program’s 10U BB1 team; and Derek Johnston the 8U B1 squad.
“These guys have so much experience and so much enthusiasm for the game, and that really bodes well for our program, specifically our players,” said Jr. Kings general manager of hockey operations Nick Vachon. “They’re all strong character guys and very well-liked, and we can’t wait to see where they can take their respective teams this season.”
A fourth-round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 2005, Macias played four full seasons of junior with the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League (WHL) before embarking on an eight-year professional career in the NHL, American Hockey League, ECHL and Europe.
The son of Helen Alex, the Jr. Kings’ director of finance, the Long Beach native dressed in eight games for the Avalanche.
“I’m very excited to begin my coaching career with the Jr. Kings and very anxious to get started,” said Macias. “I want to have a fun and successful season and pass my knowledge down to my players and hope they can take it and apply it to the best of their abilities, both on and off the ice.
“The ultimate goal is to develop my players so they’re in the best position possible to reach next level and succeed in the future.”
Santana, from Yorba Linda, played three years of junior in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) - he won a Royal Bank Cup title recognizing Canada’s Junior A national champion as a member of the Vernon Vipers in 2009 - North American Hockey League and United States Hockey League before playing four seasons of NCAA Division I hockey at Boston University.
Santana, who also celebrated a USA Hockey national championship with the California Wave’s Bantam AAA team in 2003 under the direction of head coach Jeff Turcotte, who now leads the Jr. Kings’ 16U AAA and 12U AAA2 teams, spent parts of the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons playing professionally in the ECHL.
“I’m grateful to join the Jr. Kings organization and can't wait for the season to get started; it's going to be a great year,” said Santana. “I loved my time growing up playing in California and look forward to sharing my passion for the game and knowledge with the current crop of California youth players.
“I want my team to have fun and enjoy the process, and my main objective is to help them achieve their short- and long-term goals, both as a player and a person.”
A fifth-round draft selection of the New York Rangers in 2011, McColgan played four full seasons in the WHL and five games professionally with the AHL’s Connecticut Whale.
McColgan, a Manhattan Beach product who also dressed parts of one season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees and two years collegiately at Canada’s St. Thomas University, played a year professionally in Germany in 2016-17.
“To be able to give back to the organization that did so much for me is exciting to say the least,” said McColgan. “Having as much experience as I do playing the game, I’m confident I can pass that knowledge down to kids at any age level.
“My main goal is to see these players excel and reach their full potential. If the kids are enjoying the game and working together as a team and we’re having success as a team, that’s what’s more important to me.”
Johnston, who owns and operates Goal-Line Performance, a popular full-service off-ice training outfit located minutes from El Segundo’s Toyota Sports Center - the Jr. Kings’ home facility - grew up playing competitive hockey in Upstate New York and Michigan before becoming a coach in the Los Angeles area.
At Toyota Sports Center, Johnston has mentored youth players and teams of all ages and has been a private skills trainer in the South Bay for the past five years.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing the excitement players at the 8U level have when they’re out on the ice, and I’m just as excited to help them grow, develop and, most importantly, have fun,” said Johnston.
“Obviously we want them to improve their skating and skills, but we also want them to learn what it means to be a good teammate and a good person.”
The Jr. Kings’ season gets underway on Monday, Aug. 20 when official team practices commence.