By DAN GOLDMAN
Ric Garcia and the Tuolumne County BearCats might sound like a garage band from the mid-1970s, but instead of guitars and drums, think skates and sticks.
That's because the only music you'll hear from this outfit is on the rink at High Country Sports Arena where the BearCats, a coed team comprising students from Sonora and Summerville high schools, will wrap up its first season of competition this weekend when it hosts the Sierra In-Line High School Hockey Championship.
The BearCats managed to post a respectable record of 5-9-3 in the Sierra In-Line Hockey League during the regular season good for fifth place despite being the only first-year outfit in the eight-team league. Making that achievement even more impressive is that five of the BearCats' 13 players are in their first year of playing competitive roller hockey.
The BearCats were born around this time last year when a group of players approached Garcia with the idea of forming a high school team. After spending the summer and fall competing against each other in various recreation leagues at the High Country arena, the team opened its Sierra League season in December.
"At first, I probably spent about 75 percent of the time teaching fundamentals," Garcia said. "Things like which foot to shoot of, how to handle a puck, where they should be looking stuff they teach kids at clinics.
"Now we don't spend any of our time on that stuff. Frankly, we work on things that college and pro players do. I'm totally impressed with this team."
The Bearcats' offense is led by captain and leading scorer Joseph Garcia, assistant captain Mackenzie Boyd and Aaron Panietz. They are joined up front by Brandon Freeman, Drew Kermeen, Matt Wood and Kevin Geary. Defensively, assistant captain Jasper Boyd leads a group that includes David York, Tristan Rhoden, Alex Bressler and Josh Qumme. The goalkeepers are Brandon Giordano and Tim Bressler.