By J.P. Hoornstra
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
ONTARIO, Calif. – Itan Chavira has seen the world, and the world has seen Chavira play hockey. Just not his family and friends in Southern California, at least not lately, and not in person.
The Upland resident is more famous on the Internet, where his YouTube montages demonstrate an impressive puck-handling bag of tricks. Even Ontario Reign coach Karl Taylor has checked them out.
“He does things with the puck I’ve never seen,” said Taylor, who has more than a decade worth of coaching experience.
The only catch is that all of those YouTube highlights, and most of Chavira’s hockey resum , has been compiled on wheels – roller skates, not ice hockey blades. Undeterred, when the opportunity arrived Sept. 27 to try out for the Reign, Chavira seized it.
The small (5-foot-8) but flashy forward notched a few goals in an afternoon scrimmage against many older and more experienced players, looked good enough in conditioning drills, then got a training camp invitation from Taylor, who called Chavira “the best offensive player out there.”
For the 20-year-old Chavira, who once played internationally with the USA U-18 roller hockey team and tried out with an Austrian ice hockey club over the summer, his stint with the Reign represents a rare opportunity to flash his considerable skills close to home.
“I’ve been gone from home for like three years,” Chavira said after a recent Reign practice. “It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to tryout and play in front of my family and friends… My parents probably went to four or five games at the most. To be able to make this team and have a job in my home town would be wonderful.”