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Jr. Ducks 14U A-2 Team Wins Third CAHA Title In A Row; 12U A-2 and Lady Ducks Also Win Banners

By Chris Bayee, 03/24/24, 6:30PM PDT


The Jr. Ducks' 12U A-2 and 14U A-2 teams, as well as the LDs' 10U team, capture titles at San Jose

March continues to be a banner month for the Jr. Ducks and Lady Ducks. 

Three teams captured CAHA State banners on March 24 at San Jose — the Jr. Ducks' 14U A-2 and 12U A-2 teams, while the Lady Ducks won the 10U B title. 

The core of the 14U A-2 team won their third consecutive CAHA title after twice hoisting banners at 12U.

The 12U A-2 and Lady Ducks teams won SCAHA titles on March 17, while the Jr. Ducks 18U AA team won a CAHA title to clinch a berth at the USA Hockey Nationals. 

Core of 14U A-2 Team Wins 3rd Consecutive TItle

The Jr. Ducks 14U A-2 team turned the tables on SDIA at San Jose. One week after falling 4-2 in the SCAHA final in Anaheim, the Jr. Ducks edged SDIA 4-3 for the CAHA crown. 

"It was very nice to beat those guys. We knew were capable of beating them, we just hadn't shown it throughout the year," coach Brady Horn said. "We made some adjustments defensively and switched up our forecheck after we caught up to some of their strategies." 

The 14U's played one nailbiter after another. 

"It was a dogfight the whole weekend," Horn added

After getting shut out 3-0 by the Capital Thunder in their round-robin opener, the Jr. Ducks won out. First, they beat the Stockton Colts 3-2 in overtime on Marco Valverde's goal. 

Next came the first meeting of the weekend against SDIA.

Goalie Connor Reger made 40 saves and Jack Crouch scored a forehand-backhand shootout goal for a 1-0 victory. 

"We hadn't beaten them yet. They had four breakaways and Connor stopped them all, then he stopped all of their shootout breakaways," Horn added. "He played out of his mind."

The revenge tour continued when the Jr. Ducks avenged their opening loss to the Thunder by edging them 2-1 in overtime to set up the final.

"Another overtime win, and Connor had another great game, including an unreal pad save on a breakaway," Horn said. "Jensen Hoem had the game-winner from the point." 

Six players were on all three championship teams — Jack Crouch, Josh Harmsen, Jensen Hoem, Connor Reger, Marco Valverde and Jamie Warezak.

Four more players earned back-to-back titles — Whitaker Rhines, Sean Taylor, Cameron Wheeler and Samuel Zargoza.

"The poise of our returning guys was crucial," Horn said. "When we got to the final, we were sick of overtime and shootouts — let's try winning in regulation.
"Nothing came easy for the team. We were up 4-3 and took a penalty for the last two minutes, so we had to kill a 6-on-4 power play. The boys ended up blocking some shots and did what they could to hold them off.  Josh Harmsen really stepped up his game.

"None of it was pretty, but was gritty playoff hockey. That was our identity." 

Lady Ducks Cap Incredible Season

The Lady Ducks team pulled off an impressive trifecta. Competing against boys and co-ed teams, the LDs won 10U B CAHA and SCAHA titles as well as the International Silver Stick championship in Canada in February. 

"The girls played awesome. We made history, the first Lady Ducks team to win a CAHA title," coach Vicky Wang said. 

Their closest competition at CAHA was the Jr. Ducks 10U B team, whom the LDs edged 3-2 in round-robin play. The LDs steamrolled the Fresno Jr. Monsters 8-1 in the championship game. 

The secret for the LDs was playing the same type of game they had all season.

"The girls played calmly and passed the puck and scored four goals in the first period," Wang said. "I told the girls, 'Keep playing because we showed we could come back in a round-robin game.' Anything can happen, and the girls kept playing hard. They deserved to be the champions because they played as a team."

The LDs defeated the Cupertino Cougars 8-4 in the opener in a game that showed the team's resilience. Down 4-1 after the first period, they scored the next seven goals.

"Cupertino scored some breakaway goals, but the girls played calmly and kept passing," Wang said. "We tied it with 3:23 to play and then went ahead and kept scoring. It was an amazing game."

Next, they defeated the Jr. Monsters 6-4 in another round-robin game. The LDs amassed a 25-11 cumulative total for the weekend.

"We worked together as a team," Wang added. "They turned a lot of (outside) negativity into energy and played harder." 

12U A-2 Team Adds Second Banner

The Jr. Ducks 12U A-2 team defeated Empire Hockey Club twice in a row, including 2-1 in the final, to take the championship. The Jr. Ducks won the round-robin matchup 5-2 after victories over the Jr. Sharks (9-1) and Capital Thunder (2-1, OT). 

"All of the games were close; sometimes you get lucky with a few shots, but all of the teams were good," coach Vitaly Vishnevski said. "It was a fun season, and I want to say thank you to everyone who put on the tournament, as well as our players and their families."

The undefeated run gave the 12U's a second banner in two weeks as well. Vishnevski said his team's approach lends itself to playing well.

"Be a good teammate, pay attention to what's going on and move the puck. We always want to play with quickness and move the puck," he said. "Hockey is fun when everyone passes the puck and everyone is involved."

Most impressive about the team was its consistency on defense. The Jr. Ducks allowed just five goals in four games. 

"Every team has to have good leadership, and our whole team was making a difference," Vishnevsky said. "Our D and our goalie were good, but everyone played well."