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Take the 5 South Freeway…

-          By John Harrington


Brian Morse is very familiar with the 5 South as he made the drive constantly from Fresno to Burbank to play for the Bears.  He endured the 4-hour commute (one way!) a few times per week for a couple of seasons, and although he had the passion and desire to continue the commitment, his parents eventually decided it made more sense for him to billet with a local Bears family. During those commute years, his father kept a keen eye on Brian’s energy, mood, and health to watch for burn-out, constantly checking if this was something he genuinely wanted to do. While Brian shared this with me, I could feel his passion as he reflected on fond memories from those years. It was all he wanted to do. He couldn’t wait to get into the car and make his way down to Burbank to be with his teammates.  He embraced it all. Dryland. Conditioning.  Competition. Practices. Games. At the age of 13, he moved in with his new billet-family (who he’s still close with to this day) and his adventure began which would take him from Fresno, Burbank, Connecticut, Minnesota, and now Chilliwack. Next stop in 2024 is the University of Maine on a D-1 hockey scholarship. I spoke with Brian from his most recent billet’s home in British Columbia, Canada and found him to be a mature, resolute, and humble young man. A key takeaway in our conversation was how he had to evolve and create his role on the Chilliwack Chiefs in the BCHL. He was initially scouted as an offensive defenseman while at Northstar Christian Academy, but soon realized the Junior game was at whole other level, and a some of his defining assets/tactics did not translate as smoothy into the BCHL. So, Brian pivoted and focused on becoming a shut-down defensemen. He eventually gained the trust of the coaches and proved he could contain high scoring opponents. The club witnessed this, and Brian soon realized more ice time with PP and PK responsibilities. I see this theme often with players arriving at new teams, their desired role/position already taken, needing to adapt, and overcome, and finding ways to make an impact. Brian had to create a new identity. What an amazing life-skill to experience and learn as many of us face these types of challenges in careers and relationships. Speaking with Brian, who is now 20, it wasn’t that long ago he was standing outside his billet’s home in Burbank with his bags as a 13-year-old. Although he knew exactly what he wanted, he was a little nervous, but took that next step and adapted to his new environment. Brian is known for being a cerebral player on the ice. And it is clear, he has taken this IQ on the road and off the ice as well!


Why hockey?

My whole life has always revolved around hockey, it is when I am having the most fun.


When did you start playing? Who inspired you?


I was 3 years old when I started playing hockey. Our family was living in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. All of my dad’s friends’ kids were starting to play hockey, so my dad eventually took me out to go try it and I immediately fell in love with it. From that point on, hockey was all I wanted to do. Even though I did play soccer, basketball, and baseball growing up, I always considered myself a hockey player.

Years at the Bears? Best Bear Memory?


I played three seasons with the Bears, Peewee AAA and two years of Bantam AA. Both Bantam years our team won the state championship for AA, so we were able to go to nationals which was an amazing memory! My first time was in Coral Springs, Florida, which was a super fun trip, however we didn’t make it past the round robin. My second year was in Amherst, New York, and that year we had a really good team. We were ranked 1st in the country the whole season, but eventually suffered a disappointing loss in the semifinal game. I remember that being some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing hockey. At that age to play in a national tournament against the best teams in the country felt so cool. The best memories I have with the Bears come during trips like those where everyone is staying in the hotel together. We would play knee hockey in the hallways until too many people called to complain about the noise, it was so much fun.

Nickname among your hockey friends?


I’ve had plenty of nicknames throughout the years. Most common have been Moresy and B-ri. But when I played for the Bears everyone on the team called me Fresno because that’s where I lived, and it was so far away.

Which coach/mentor/role model stays with you, to this day, in the back of your mind? How did they elevate your game?


I have been very lucky in having lots of great coaches growing up. When I was with the Bears, I played for Peter Torsson for all three seasons. I loved playing for Peter. One of my biggest strengths as a player is my work ethic and I feel like Peter really ignited that. He showed me what it would take to become an elite player and I became obsessed with becoming that player. One thing Peter always told us was “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” This has stuck with me throughout my years of hockey and always reminds me to give my best effort.

How did you balance studying, practice, and lots of missed school days?


When I played for the Bears, I was living close to 4 hours away from the rink, so it was tough to juggle hockey and school. Every Friday I would miss my last two classes of the day so that I could make the practice that night. My advice would be to always keep a good line of communication with your teachers and let them know what is going on with hockey. Most of the teachers I had would give me some slack if they knew I was missing for hockey. My school has always been important to me and so I was able to stay on top of my assignments.

Which exercise gives you the biggest advantage on the ice?


I feel that the assault bike gives me the biggest advantage on the ice. Great for the offseason and getting my lungs where they need to be!

Where are you playing now and how did you get there?


I play for the Chilliwack Chiefs in the BCHL and next year will be attending the University of Maine to play Division 1 college hockey. Before Chilliwack I played for Northstar Christian Academy in Alexandria, Minnesota. I spent two seasons there and felt like I really improved a lot in my time there. Before that, I joined most of my Bears teammates in going to prep school for The Gunnery for 2 seasons.


Where do you see yourself in 10 years?


In 10 years, I would love to still be playing hockey professionally. Whether that’s in the NHL, AHL, or overseas. I am studying accounting at Maine next year so if hockey doesn’t work out past my 4 years there, I would like to pursue being an accountant.


Who would win in a hockey fight, Tyson Fury (on skates) vs. Tony Twist?


Tony twist would absolutely beat Tyson Fury on skates in a hockey fight. Being able to box is one thing, but on skates and on the ice is a completely different story.


Best celebrity sighting at Pickwick Ice in Burbank? If not at Pickwick, any other rink in L.A.?


I never saw any celebrities at the rinks in LA but one time after a game I saw Blake Griffin at The Habit.


The longest drive you/parents made for a hockey game?


My parents would drive 4 hours to see me play in Burbank.


Favorite hockey slang that confuses your civilian friends?


My favorite hockey slang is probably “dust” which means bad or lame. My friends back home always look at me like I’m stupid.


You have a Bears time machine (patent pending), you fly back to your first day of Mites, what advice would you give yourself?

My advice to myself would be to always give my best effort and to enjoy all the moments hockey will bring you.


What is the funniest misconception you’ve experienced when trying to explain to hockey players outside of California...that yes, there is indeed hockey in California?


Everybody always assumes that the ice would melt in California. I try to explain that the ice is indoors and so they are able to keep it cold, but they don’t understand.


Look at your phone, what is the very last song you listened to? Be honest! No reason or apology necessary (we all have that one song).


The last song I listened to was Silverado for Sale by Morgan Wallen.


Any real-world experience that made you think “Yes, that’s just like in hockey.”

Hockey has helped me become a less selfish person, because I have been part of a team and have had to put the well-being of the team over my own.


Side note – Many parents ask me about gaming and social media and its negative effects. When I asked Brian about video games, he said that he left his console at home when he went to prep school, recognizing it could be a distraction. He enjoys gaming, with his friends, in moderation.





2009 AAA's in Canada

Tournament Logo


The 2009 AAA team participated in the Toronto Marlboros Holiday Classic between the holidays where they won 2, tied 1 and lost 2. They made it to the round of sixteen where they lost to Little Caesars 3-2 after being scored on with 50 seconds left. It also lost to Don Mills Flyers 4-1 with an open better in the group round. Don Mills would later beat Little Caesars in the tournament finals 3-1. Most games the team had 4D and 8F but managed to Compete with some of the best teams in Canada and USA.

Bears night at Crypto areana!

A huge thank you to the LA Kings, California Bears, and Bear Cubs families for a great night at Crypto!


Bears Hockey Club turns 60 and celebrate long relationship with Pickwick Ice…

Bears History: 

The California Bears Youth Hockey Club a non-profit organization that is one of the oldest hockey clubs in California, first charted by the state in 1964. The club has enjoyed a long standing relationship and look forward to many more years of growth and partnership.

Pickwick History: 

This is from a L.A. Times article in 1991 reporting on the reopening of Pickwick Ice. You can find the link to the rest of the article below.

Several figure-skating and hockey enthusiasts formed a “Save the Ice” committee, which held a rally at Buena Vista Park and launched a massive letter-writing campaign that drew support from the likes of Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall, Walt Disney Co. CEO Michael Eisner and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In a story line that could have been formulated by one of the rink’s many neighboring film studios, the Staverts, faced with overwhelming evidence of Pickwick’s importance to the skating world, not only reversed their decision but promised to provide the rink’s supporters with a new, better-than-ever arena. And when the rink did close July 15, it was for two months of extensive refurbishing at an estimated cost of $500,000. It opened to the public again Sept. 28.

This weekend, the rink is sponsoring a grand reopening celebration beginning with this afternoon’s ribbon-cutting by 1988 Olympic bronze medalist (and former Los Angeles Figure Skating Club member) Debi Thomas.

The highlight of the three-day event will be Saturday’s two performances of “Icestravaganza,” an exhibition by the figure skating club’s members, starring Thomas, current U. S. men’s silver medalist Christopher Bowman and U. S. pairs champions Sand and Natasha Kuchiki. On tap Sunday is a 90-minute scrimmage by members of the Celebrity All-Star Hockey Team, tentatively set to include Richard Dean Anderson, Jason Priestley, and Dave Coulier.

The weekend also commemorates the 30th anniversary of Pickwick’s opening in September 1961.

In those three decades, the facility has served as the practice arena for the L. A. Kings and Sonja Henie, and the training site for two-time world champion-1980 Olympic silver medalist Linda Fratianne and other stellar amateur skaters.

Read more:

Pickwick Image

The Bear Facts…


If those penalty boxes could talk…


Just a reminder to keep an eye out for notification when we release swag to celebrate our 60 year anniversary!


The January To-Do List…


Watch ESPN’s Of Miracles & Men episode of 30 for 30. There was another, unchronicled side to the "Miracle on Ice" story other than a USA gold medal. The so-called bad guys from America's ideological adversary were in reality good men and outstanding players, forged into the Big Red Machine by the genius and passion of Anatoli Tarasov. Narrated by “Dumb & Dumber” actor Jeff Daniels, this smart documentary is a classic!


Read Unbroken the true story of a local track star from Torrance who competed for USC and in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. After the war began, he was soon shot down (twice!) in the Pacific and became a POW (twice!). This is not about hockey, but it’s an incredible true story of courage and resilience. If you already watched the movie first, shame on you! Now read this book. Much better. It will literally change the way you view your own life and personal struggles.  (Age 13 +)



Listen to Wondery’s Sports Explains the World. This podcast is full of cool eclectic stories from CIA and basketball, Howard men’s soccer team, Alpine skier Peter Sabich, and the insane world of competitive cheerleading. Never a dull commute on the 101, 405, 5, 10 or 210 when these stories are playing!



Join the Facebook Group Bears in Prince George. As mentioned in the first issue, I grew up in a Canadian pulp-mill town that is surrounded by bears! Well, this page is full of photos and videos of bears getting into all sorts of trouble.  Always remember this mantra when facing a charging bear; If it’s black, fight back. If it’s brown, lay down. If it’s white, good night.  Fun fact – I stay far away (miles) from polar bears and grizzly bears.



Follow Historicpix on Instagram and explore beautiful and historical pictures. One stunning video is of the bandy Swedish Championship of 1960. Bandy looks like hockey from a distance. But it’s not!