A trio of Anaheim Jr. Ducks and Lady Ducks teams recently captured CAHA Tier I state championships.
The Jr. Ducks’ 15U AAA team won a CAHA Tier I state championship on Feb. 9 at San Jose, edging the host Jr. Sharks, 3-1, in the final. The Lady Ducks’ 16U and 14U AAA teams won titles at Valencia on Feb. 2
The Jr. Ducks’ 2004 birth year team avenged a 7-4 round-robin loss to the Jr. Sharks in the process. The Jr. Ducks also twice defeated the Jr. Kings in round-robin action.
“It’s always fun to see the excitement, to see the kids rewarded when you win a title,” coach David Walker said. “I’m proud of their effort to come back and be focused (in the final).”
After the Jr. Ducks worked their way to the rematch, Walker had the team watch the entire video of the round-robin loss to the Jr. Sharks.
“In the loss we didn’t play our best,” he said. “One thing that stuck out was you’re never as bad as you think you were. We had a lot of great opportunities, we won time of possession and they skated hard. It wasn’t as bad as we had thought, and that allowed us regain our confidence.
“We evaluated where there were some holes and came up with a plan.”
The plan came together the next day, and that meant the 2004s will head to the Pacific District tournament in Tacoma the first weekend in March. The bulk of the team will be shooting for its second consecutive trip to the USA Hockey Nationals.
“We had 20 players all wanting to do what they needed to,” Walker said. “They all were focused, they all paid attention to detail and they seized the opportunity.”
Also at San Jose, the Jr. Ducks’ 18Us reached the championship game before losing to the Jr. Sharks, 4-1. The Jr. Ducks went 2-1 in round-robin play to earn the berth.
The Lady Ducks’ 16U team found itself in a similar position at Valencia the weekend before. They shut out the San Jose Jr. Sharks, 5-0, in the decisive game of their best-of-3 series. The LDs had won the opener, 4-1, before losing 3-2 in the second game.
Goaltender Ella Park had the shutout in the decisive game and also won Game 1.
“Our top line of Alexis Fields, Mia Catalano and Maddie Lalonde played like a top line (and scored all five goals in the final),” coach Gary Cox said. “But no team wins with one line. Every player played to win.
“We had players blowing apart finger tips blocking shots but going back out for their next shift. Those are the things that make you win.”
Many 16U teams ice a lineup that is predominantly made up of 2003s, but the LDs had nine 2004 and 2005 birth years.
Cox noted the rivalry between the two clubs has been turned up several notches.
“The Sharks were tenacious,” he said. “One of our players said in the room, ‘No team wants to beat us more than the Sharks.’ And she was right.
“Their program continues to improve and develop top-level players. This rivalry is great for girls hockey in California.”
The 14U team swept the Jr. Sharks in two games, winning 3-1 and 5-4 in overtime.
Both Lady Ducks teams will head to the Pacific District tournament in Seattle at the end of February.