Hockey popular among Hawaii’s prep athletes

Ethan Matsuoka has been involved in paddling at Roosevelt and was a member of the Kaplolei Inline Hockey Arena's  team that won the NARCH Winter Nationals in January in San Jose. / Photo courtesy of Robert Hamilton.
Ethan Matsuoka has been involved in paddling at Roosevelt and was a member of the Kapolei Inline Hockey Arenas’ 16-under team that won the NARCH Winter Nationals in January in San Jose. / Photo courtesy of Robert Hamilton.

Everett Lau pitched for ‘Iolani against Punahou on Friday. He wasn’t involved in the decision.

E.J. Abramo ran in the OIA JV track and field championships last Saturday.

What the two athletes have in common is an appearance in the North American Roller Hockey Championships in January. They were teammates for the Kapolei Inline Hockey Arenas team that won the gold medal in the 16-under division in San Jose.

But they are far from the only two hockey players participating in interscholastic sports — varsity, JV and intermediate — in Hawaii.

There’s Shaun Apiki of Damien, who has won national titles with KIHA as well. He plays varsity basketball for the Monarchs.

And then there’s Talia Brandner, a freshman who plays for the Mililani girls basketball team. She does not play at KIHA, but she used to play in the now-defunct Mililani Inline Hockey Association.

There’s many more hockey players or former hockey players who play for their schools in other sports. The list, including those mentioned above, follows.

>> Shaun Apiki (Damien varsity basketball)
>> Talia Brandner (Mililani varsity basketball)
>> E.J. Abramo (Mililani JV cross country and track)
>> Everett Lau (‘Iolani baseball and bowling)
>> Noah Baldado (Kaiser JV track)
>> Nelson Weyl (Campbell bowling)
>> Noah Tramuto (Pearl City judo)
>> Aki Sato (Kaiser JV tennis)
>> Ethan Matsuoka (Roosevelt JV paddling)
>> Emily Pamaylaon (Aiea wrestling)
>> Kylie Iwamoto (Leilehua cheerleading and swimming)
>> Kasen Keliiholokai (Waipahu JV football)
>> Austin Harder (Damien intermediate cross country)
>> Adam Harder (Damien intermediate cross country)
>> Joseph Lyons (Saint Louis JV paddling; Pac-Five varsity water polo)
>> Scott Lyons (Saint Louis intermediate paddling; Pac-Five intermediate water polo)
>> Kali Lyons (Sacred Hearts JV paddling)
>> Kaniala Kaohe (Pearl City football and judo)
>> Kanani Tramuto (Pearl City cheerleading)
>> Xander Colon (Mililani JV football)
>> David Riccobuono (Hanalani varsity baseball)

Two others are recent graduates: Zach Pamaylaon (Aiea cross country and wrestling) and Carlyn Abramo (Mililani cheerleading and track).

And another, Castor Mattos, moved from Oahu to Minnesota a few years ago and is now playing high school hockey there.

Speaking of high school hockey, it’s possible with all of these players that the inline version of the sport could flourish here in high school competition.

Pamaylaon recently returned from the mainland, where he played a season of junior hockey, a preparatory level for future college and pro players. He was brought up to the Philadelphia Revolution, a Tier III junior hockey team that plays in the Eastern Hockey League, for its final few games. Next season and beyond, he will be trying to move up to Tier II and Tier I.

The list does not include many other high school and intermediate school students who play at KIHA, but are not playing interscholastic sports.

Within the last decade, the ILH tried lacrosse and it didn’t stick around.

Nationwide, hockey is more popular than lacrosse, and the Kapolei Inline Hockey Arenas is a state-of-the-art, air-conditioned, indoor facility with a Sport Court surface. They have a learn to skate program for all ages and leagues from 8-under through 16-under for youths and five adult divisions.

It’s not out of the question that the ILH, made up of mostly private schools, would be interested in giving it a try.


  1. […] Many KIHA youth players in the last 10 years also played varsity sports for their respective schools. In my opinion, it would be a great pilot high school club program for any small school that wanted to try it. […]

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