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Jr. Ducks 14U and 18U AAA, Lady Ducks 16U AAA Teams Going to Nationals

By Chris Bayee, 02/25/24, 6:30PM PST


All three teams captured Pacific District Championships during the past two weekends

The Anaheim Jr. Ducks 14U AAA and Lady Ducks 16U AAA teams punched their tickets to the USA Youth Hockey Nationals in compelling fashion on Feb. 25. The 18U AAA team joined them on March 3 by capping a dominant playoff run. 

The Jr. Ducks 14Us edged the rival Los Angeles Jr. Kings, 1-0, to capture a Pacific District championship at Seattle. 

The Lady Ducks defeated the San Jose Sharks, 4-3, in overtime for a Pacific District title at San Jose.

The Jr. Ducks 18Us defeated Team Alaska, 4-2, in the championship game at Anchorage, Alaska. 

The LDs have qualified at least one Tier I team for Nationals for 19 consecutive seasons. The Jr. Ducks, meanwhile, qualified at least one Tier I team for Nationals for the 10th consecutive season. 

Jr. Ducks 18U Team Showcases Depth, Goaltending

The 18U team built a 3-0 lead in the championship game before Aidan Callahan scored his second of the contest midway through the third period for the 4-2 margin.

Aidan Grant and Nikita Zozulia scored first-period goals, and Jack Kavetsky made 28 saves for the Jr. Ducks, who had 55 shots on goal. 

The 18s went 3-0 in round-robin play, outscoring foes 25-3.

"The big thing all tournament was having a good start, and the best thing was we had really good starts and took the lead early in every game," coach August Aiken said. "We were never behind this weekend, which is huge."

They knocked off the Rose City Pats, 6-1, in the semifinals as Kenneth McIlwain had three goals and an assist and Kavetsky stopped 29 shots. 

McIlwain led the Jr. Ducks with 12 points in five games and one of his semifinal goals was a short-hander. Julian Young also scored shorthanded and Zozulia had a power-play goal. Ethan Overman added an even-strength goal. 

Kavetsky and tag-team partner Kyle Pisarcik were sterling in net. Kavetsky stopped 76 of 81 shots he faced in three games, while Pisarcik allowed just one goal on 31 shots in two games. 

"Both goalies did great," Aiken said. "The nice thing was we had everybody contributing in every aspect of the game, whether blocking shots, making good plays, getting pucks out of our zone or taking a hit to make a play.

"Everyone did their job, winning their shift and winning battles."

The 18s will compete at Nationals in Las Vegas from April 2-7.

The Jr. Ducks 16U team reached the championship game before losing. 

The 16s went 2-1 in round-robin play then edged the Vegas Jr. Golden Knights, 2-1, in the semifinals. Kasen Mainberger made 29 saves, and Jude Martinez and Owen Delgado scored goals, Delgado's coming early in the third period to provide the difference. 

Jr. Ducks 14U Allows Just One Goal at Districts

The Jr. Ducks 14U team got 22 saves from Kaeden Tate and a third-period goal from Grady Schaefer to edge the Jr. Kings. It marked the seventh time the teams played this season and the third time the Jr. Ducks shut out their rivals.

Schaefer's goal came 2:26 into the third period off of assists from Bradley Marchant and Jordan Tran. Marchant drove in and shot the puck on net. Schaefer grabbed the rebound on the back door and scored.

The District title capped an incredible month for the 14s, who gave up just one goal in four games in Seattle. They also defeated the Jr. Kings by one goal to win the CAHA championship earlier this month, then lost to the Dallas Stars Elite, 3-2, in the championship game of the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League playoffs one week before districts. Before that, the 14s won the CAHA regular-season title, allowing the fewest goals (10) and scoring the most (49).

"It's been a great run," coach Jim Burcar said. "This group grinds. There is no quit in them. The Kings are a hard matchup, and that was a tough game to finish out." 

The 14s ran the table in round-robin play. They shut out Team Alaska (6-0) and the host Jr. Kraken(9-0), before defeating the Wenatchee Jr. Wild (4-1).

Tate shut out Team Alaska and also defeated Wenatchee. Evan Enck shut out Seattle. Tate stopped 42 of 43 shots he saw at Districts, an unreal .977 save percentage.

"He played great," Burcar said. "He's a cool customer."

When it was all said and done, the 14s had played 10 games in 10 days between the Tier 1 playoffs and Districts. It brought to mind a funny story.

"When we were in Minnesota, the Vancouver Canucks were in town to play the Wild," Burcar said. "They came in to play the Kraken when we were in Seattle. The Canucks played three games in that span, while we played 10."

Two other Jr. Ducks teams competed at Seattle. 

The 15U's went 2-1 in round-robin play, defeating the Jr. Sharks (9-2), and Team Alaska (4-2) but falling in overtime to the Jr. Kings (3-2). They lost to the Jr. Kings in the final.

The 13U's went 2-1 in round-robin play, defeating the Vegas Jr. Golden Knights (5-0) and the Jr. Kings (4-2) before losing to the Ice Dogs (3-0). 

The 14s will compete at Nationals in suburban Detroit.

Lady Ducks Rally To Win 16U Title

The Lady Ducks' 16U's rallied to defeat the host team. Down 3-2 midway through the third period, the LDs tied it on Emily Olsthoorn's second goal of the game. Mikaela Dorkin won it with 1:32 left in overtime off an assist from Charlotte Crudale.

Cameron Liu made 33 saves for the LDs, who outshot the Jr. Sharks 40-36.

The LDs' surge capped a back-and-forth game. Olsthoorn scored the first goal before San Jose tied it. Mackenzie Williams re-established the Lady Ducks' lead with 1:56 to go in the first period. But the Jr. Sharks got the next two goals to take a 3-2 lead.

The 16s went 3-0 in round-robin play, defeating Team Alaska, the Jr. Sharks (3-2) and the L.A. Lions (3-0). 

Four other LDs teams competed at Districts — the 19U and 14U AAA teams and the 14U and 16U AA teams. The AA teams posted wins in their penultimate games before losing their finales on Saturday. 

The 16s will compete at Nationals in Wesley Chapel, Fla.