ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Southern California was mostly sunny skies this past weekend, but ice hockey was the focal point at The Rinks in Anaheim as the Pacific District Girls Championship was underway. With a trip to Nationals on the line, the girls stepped onto the ice, some never having made it this far in their young careers.
Given that level of intensity and focus, the backdrop for a competitive Pacific District Championships was set.
Sunday morning's action got off to a slightly less-frenzied start than planned, with the Anaheim Lady Ducks having already clinched their best-of-three championships in both the Tier I 14U and 16U divisions by Saturday evening.
Girls Tier I
14U: Anaheim Lady Ducks
16U: Anaheim Lady Ducks
Girls Tier II
14U: Alaska Pioneers
16U: AHA North Stars
19U: San Jose Jr Sharks
The Lady Ducks Tier I 14U team dominated the San Jose Junior Sharks 3-0 in Game 1 Friday, followed by another strong 3-0 performance Saturday.
Led on offense by Emmerson Hayes' 3 goals (4 total points) and Madelyn Son's two assists, the Lady Ducks interrupted the Junior Sharks' recent success in the 14U division.
Ducks head coach Laura Veharanta was understandably pleased following the win, with team members and parents noting the collective jubilation for their upcoming trip to Lansing, Michigan, for Nationals.
Keeping it Local
The Lady Ducks from Anaheim — regardless of age or division — clearly came into the tournament with an extra level of focus, as their Tier I 16U team bested the competition even more convincingly than the 14U team.
Anaheim won Game 1 of its best-of-three matchup against the Seattle Lady Admirals 4-0 before cruising to another win the next day, 6-0.
Anaheim benefited from the outstanding play of goaltenders Madelyn Morgan and Savannah Gutierrez, who both recorded flawless shutouts.
Pioneers take Tier II 14U Title
The Lady Ducks' dominating run was blocked in the Tier II 14U classification by the Alaska Pioneers, who took the title with a 4-1 Sunday triumph.
Kaylin Garner led the way offensively with four goals and six points, overall. In the final, Alaska recorded 15 shots on goal compared to only six for Anaheim.
The Lady Ducks' lone goal came via Kailey Sato (unassisted) in the second period at the 12:24 mark, otherwise Pioneers' goalie Rachel Symmes was unbeatable.
Alaskan Showdown in Tier II 16U
The Tier II 16U championship game featured a pair of teams from Alaska, with the Pioneers and North Stars facing off for the right to represent The Last Frontier at Nationals. The North Stars headed into Sunday's action following a dominating 9-2 win over the San Jose Junior Sharks, as well as a 4-0 victory over the Alaska All Stars.
The North Stars continued their incredibly high level of play Sunday, defeating the Pioneers 3-1. As the Pioneers' coaching staff discussed afterwards though, the game felt a lot closer than the final score indicated.
The Pioneers actually outshot the North Stars 20-18, but surrendered two goals in the final period, both by Tristin Stetson within a couple minutes of each other. Stetson, from Anchorage, led her team with three goals, three assists and six overall points in this weekend's tournament.
Coach and father, Seth Stetson, proudly stood on the ice as his daughter and team booked their ticket to Nationals.
OT at The Rinks
The tournament's marquee matchup, as it turned out, was the Tier II 19U title game Sunday morning between the Alaska All Stars and San Jose Junior Sharks.
The All Stars reached the championship game after a 4-1 win Saturday over the Washington Wild, led by four goals from Madeline Millar and four assists from Olivia Matson. Both names would be familiar the following day as they tried to take down the Junior Sharks juggernaut.
After a tentative start, the offensive flood gates opened as both teams scored twice in the opening frame.
The second period initially saw the Junior Sharks take control with a 4-2 lead, but just as the game looked to be getting out of reach for the All Stars, Madeline Miller changed gears to tie the score 4-4.
The third period, again, looked to be going San Jose's way, but Alaska did catch a break when a San Jose goal was nullified for kicking the puck into the cage. Still tied at four near the end of the period, Tristan Tolan weaved her way toward the San Jose net, only to be thwarted by Angela Hawthorne. With new life, San Jose eventually made Alaska pay, as Evelyne Blais-Savoie scored the deciding goal with 55 seconds remaining in the 17-minute overtime period.
Hawthorne finished with 21 saves on 25 shots for San Jose, playing the entire 55-minute game. Head coach Bobby Long, beaming with pride, walked across the ice with assistant coach Amanda Long to pick up the championship trophy and the proverbial ticket to Nationals.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
|Youth Tier I (14U)||Scottsdale, Arizona||Arizona Amateur Hockey||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier I (15-year-olds only)||Scottsdale, Arizona||Arizona Amateur Hockey||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier I (16U, 18U)||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||Pittsburgh Penguins Elite||April 6-10, 2017|
|Girls Tier I||Rochester/Macomb, Michigan||HoneyBaked Hockey Club||April 6-10, 2017|
|Women's A, B, C||Rochester/Macomb, Michigan||HoneyBaked Hockey Club||April 6-9, 2017|
|High School||Cleveland, Ohio||Cleveland Suburban Hockey||March 30-April 3, 2017|
|Girls Tier II||Troy, Michigan||Troy Youth Hockey Association||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier II (14U)||Coral Springs, Florida||Florida Panthers Ice Den||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier II (16U)||Frisco, Texas||Texas Amateur Hockey||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier II (18U)||Lansing, Michigan||Lansing Hockey Club||April 6-10, 2017|
|Sled||San Jose, California||Sharks Ice||April 6-9, 2017|
|Adult Rec Men's||Wesley Chapel, Florida||Florida Hospital Center Ice||April 20-23, 2017|
|Adult Rec Women's||Ellenton, Florida||Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex||April 27-30, 2017|