The Jr. Ducks' 16U and 18U AAA teams and the Lady Ducks' 16U and 14U AAA win Pacific District championships. The OCHC 14U2 team wins State title.
Four Anaheim Jr. Ducks and Lady Ducks Tier I teams captured Pacific District championships at San Jose over the weekend of Feb. 23-26 earn berths in the USA Hockey Youth Nationals at the end of March.
The Jr. Ducks' 18U and 16U AAA teams captured titles, while the Lady Ducks won championships at 16U and 14U AAA.
In addition, Orange County Hockey Club's 14U2 team won a CAHA State title on March 12 at The Cube in Santa Clarita to advance to Nationals as well. OCHC's 12U team also won a CAHA banner.
The Jr. Ducks have gone to Nationals seven of the past eight seasons at 18U AAA and six of the past seven at 16U AAA. Nationals were not held in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The Lady Ducks have sent a team to Nationals six consecutive seasons (not counting 2020) at 16U. They qualified at 14U for the first time since 2019, a year that capped a run of 12 consecutive seasons for that age group for the club.
The Jr. Ducks 18U's defeated the host Jr. Sharks, 3-2, in the championship game. Rex Baren scored what proved to be the winning goal with 10:15 to play in regulation, and Owen Crudale, who won both playoff games, made 34 saves. Crudale stopped 81 of 86 shots in his three starts (.942 save percentage).
Makar Klochkov gave the Jr. Ducks a 1-0 lead in the second period, and Noah Tano extended it to 2-0 before the Sharks got the first of their two third-period goals.
The 18s defeated Team Alaska, 4-2, in a semifinal - four players scored goals - after winning their opener and losing once in a shootout and once in overtime during round-robin play.
"There are always obstacles at this time of year," 18U coach August Aiken said. "The last two games really showed what this group is capable of."
The 18s had balanced scoring - nine players averaged a point or more per game, led by Tano's seven (four goals, three assists), and six from Luke Anthony (four goals), Rex Baren (goals), James Dean (three), Ameen Ghosheh, and Oliver Miller. Brock Devlin, Klochkov, and Quinton McElligott had five points each. Goaltender Micah Kawai allowed just four goals in his two appearances.
"That was one thing that really helped us," added Aiken, who is leading a team to Nationals for the third consecutive year and sixth time overall. "Everyone stepped up and contributed, whether it was scoring a goal, taking a hit to make a play, or blocking a shot."
Aiken is optimistic about the 18s' chances at Nationals, which will be back at San Jose from March 29-April 3.
"We have a ton of experience from our returning players and those that were with the 16s last year," he said. "That's going to be key for us."
The 16s capped a strong tournament with a 4-0 victory over the Jr. Ice Dogs. Jack Kavetsky made 22 saves, Colin Frank, Tanner Henricks, Luka Zoretic, and Carson Castro scored goals. Frank added an assist, and Brendan Dunphy had two. Kavetsky did not allow a goal in any of his three starts.
"Kavetsky was great all tournament, especially in the final," coach Alex Kim said. "Our key guys scored in the final, and the whole team rose to the moment."
The championship was the 16s' fourth victory by shutout in five games. Kavetsky had 12 saves in an 8-0 semifinal victory against the Vegas Jr. Golden Knights, and Tyler McGowan had two goals and an assist, and six other players scored goals - Ty Izadi, Liam McGuern, Castro, Dominick Ybarra, Trevor Huddleston, and Zoretic.
"At that point, it's a one-game season for everyone, so you can't underestimate your opponent," said Kim, who is taking his seventh team to Nationals in 10 years. "The group really delivered and executed when they needed to. Both goalies played really well all weekend."
The 16s also had balanced scoring, with seven players scoring a point per game or more, and an eighth - Zoretic - adding four goals. Henricks had 11 points (eight assists), Izadi had 10 (seven assists), Frank had nine (five goals), Tyler McGowan (four goals) and Dunphy had eight apiece, and Castro and Aidan Yi each had five.
Kavetsky also had a shutout in round-robin play, while Kyle Pisarcik allowed just two goals on 28 shots in his two victories.
The 16s also will travel to San Jose for Nationals from March 29-April 3.
The Lady Ducks got a clutch performance from goaltender Madisyn Ryan when they needed it most to knock off Anchorage in the 16U final, 1-0.
Ryan made 20 saves and stopped 40 of 41 in her two starts in the tournament (.976 save percentage), and Emily Johnson scored the championship game's only goal in the first period. Goaltender Samantha Phelan also went 2-0 in net and stopped 52 of 55 shots on the weekend (.945).
"The highlight of the weekend was the play of both goaltenders," coach Zealin Cronk said. "Their leadership and consistency, especially from Maddie Ryan, was big.
"The level of confidence it gives our team when those two play like that - the 'they're not scoring on us today' mentality is huge."
The final was the second one-goal win the LDs had against Anchorage. The teams started with a 2-1 game in the round-robin opener.
Ryan helped the LDs absorb a second-period push by Anchorage in the final. "She instilled a lot of confidence in the team," said Cronk, who will take his third team to Nationals.
The 16s bounced back from a disappointing weekend at the Pacific Girls Hockey League Championships a week earlier. The LDs finished second, but weren't happy about it.
"It was a reality check for us," Cronk said. "We realized every team is going to bring it, and it provided our team the push it needed."
There has been a shift with the 16s, Cronk added.
"We've developed a team-first attitude," he said. "Talentwise, we're good enough to compete with anyone. Now we have to go to work and prove we belong (at Nationals).
"We had some adversity early in the year, and we're peaking at the right time. There is a different feeling than in years past. A lot of the credit has to go to Caroline Marchant for helping foster that camaraderie, support, and love within the club. Everyone - AAA, AA, grass-roots - has been supporting everyone else, and it's been galvanizing."
The LDs' 14U team wrapped up its Nationals berth by avenging its only loss of the weekend. The LDs routed the L.A. Lions, 7-1, in the final after losing to their SoCal rivals, 2-1, in a round-robin shootout.
Cameron Liu made 16 saves in the final, and Brooke Schlutter scored three goals. Candace Liu added a goal and two assists, Taryn Montgomery had a goal and an assist, and Allison Lebret and Rachel Vincente each had a goal, too.
"They came to play in the final," coach Lilli Marchant said. "They had to find a way to work together and ultimately find a way to bury the puck. It was an important lesson to consistently be able to push through. We've been building toward it, but to see it come together was rewarding."
It was the second banner in two weekends that the 14U's had won, adding Districts to the PGHL Championships a weekend earlier.
"That was huge to show themselves they could win in a pressure situation," Marchant added. "None of them have been to Nationals, and it's going to be good competition every game.
"We have to find a way to play strong defense and capitalize on our chances in the offensive zone."
As is the case with the 16's, the 14's have two good goaltending options. Liu stopped 26 of 28 shots she faced on the weekend, and Anousheh Mohebbi won two games and stopped 41 of 43 shots.
Annika Stock lead the team with six points, including five goals in round-robin play, and Mikaela Dorkin and Phoenix Dickinson each had four points.
The Lady Ducks' 14U and 16U teams will travel to Dallas for Nationals, which are March 30 to April 3.
OCHC's 14U team overcame an uneven round-robin performance to stave off elimination twice in taking the title. OCHC edged the Golden Bears, 1-0, in overtime after losing to the same team, 3-1, in its second round-robin game. OCHC defeated the Jr. Ducks, 3-1, in an elimination game before the final.
The 14Us will advance to suburban Denver for Nationals. Play begins March 30.
The 12U team defeated the SDIA Oilers, 6-2, for the championship. OCHC had won two of its three round-robin games.
The Jr. Ducks 18U AA team lost to the GSE Eagles, 2-1, in the championship game after going undefeated in round-robin play.