The Anaheim Jr. Ducks captured two CAHA State Tier I championships and qualified four teams for the USA Hockey Pacific District Regionals at the recent state tournament at The Rinks – Lakewood on Feb. 3-5.
The state titles came in very different fashions.
The Pee Wee AAA-1 team, coached by Alex Vasilevsky, swept its three games to capture the 12U crown.
The Midget 16U AAA team, meanwhile, bounced back from a Sunday morning loss to the Los Angeles Jr. Kings, to defeat their rivals to the north, 2-1, in a triple-overtime thriller that evening.
“I’m very proud of the effort from our 16 AAA team and how they have come together as a team both on and off the ice,” Jr. Ducks Director of Coaches and 16U co-coach Craig Johnson said. “It was a very well played game by both teams and was exciting for all the kids to be part of, especially with the game going to three overtimes.”
Added co-coach and Jr. Ducks Director of Player Personnel Alex Kim, “It's playoff hockey and the details really make the difference. We are proud of the way the team competed and stuck together despite it going into three OTs. They stayed focused and continued to work hard until the end.”
The 16U team won when Wyatt Wong scored off an assist from Joseph Harguindeguy 2:27 into the third extra period. Jiyoon Chae had given the Jr. Ducks a first-period lead, but the Jr. Kings tied it midway through the third.
Jakob Wepman made 27 saves for the 16Us in the final. The Jr. Ducks opened the tournament with wins against the San Jose Jr. Sharks (6-0) and the Jr. Kings (4-1) before losing to the Jr. Kings (4-3) to force the decisive game.
“Our players were able to bounce back after losing the morning game,” Kim said. “It was a full team effort, every player was important to the team's victory. Our goaltending was solid and we played very well defensively.
“They are a hard working group that has come a long way since the start of the season. We are glad to see them get rewarded for the hard work they have put in.”
The Pee Wee 12U team also won a state title, defeating the Jr. Kings, 4-1, in the final to cap its undefeated weekend. Joshua Niedermayer scored two goals and Rocco Zimmerman and Colin Chon added one each. Dylan Silverstein got the victory in net.
“Our 2004 team had a great tournament, going undefeated and becoming state champions,” Johnson said.
Four Jr. Ducks teams, including the 16Us, advanced to Pacific District tournaments on March 8-12. The Midget 15U team, which lost to the Jr. Kings, 4-2, in the championship game, will join the 16Us in Las Vegas. The Midget 18U and Bantam 14U teams also received berths for their respective tournaments at Anchorage, Alaska.
“I’m very proud of how all our teams competed at States,” Johnson said. “They worked hard throughout the season and every player competed as hard as they could.”
The two titles are the latest in a highly successful three-year run at the Tier I CAHA playoffs. The Jr. Ducks won four state crowns last season and three during the 2014-15 season. The 18U team advanced to the USA Hockey Tier I Nationals last season, and the Bantam and Midget 16U teams earned Nationals berths in 2015.
Tag(s): Club News