IRVINE, Calif. — The Anaheim Jr. Ducks won a hard-fought battle close to home while a whole state away, two of its teams were cruising in this year’s USA Hockey Pacific District Tournaments. The Tier I 15-Only and 16U tournaments were held at Great Park ICE in Irvine, California, while the 14Us and 18U teams took the ice at City National Arena in Las Vegas.
The Ducks took home titles in three age groups, which is a club record. Those three teams and the San Jose Jr. Sharks team that won the 15-only title have qualified for the 2019 Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championships Youth Tier I National Championships being held April 3-8.
16U Ducks win rematch with Oilers
The 16U Jr. Ducks’ road to the championship game was not an easy one as they had two wins and a loss going into the final. Their one loss was to the Alaska Oilers, who defeated them in 5-4 in overtime.
With revenge on their minds, the Jr. Ducks would once again face the Oilers in the tournament final.
Forward Brendan Williams opened the scoring at the 11:31 mark of the first period to give the Jr. Ducks the lead.
The Oilers evened the score with 5:28 remaining as Kerich Jackson scored an even strength goal to make it 1-1.
The last goal ended up being the game-winner for the Jr. Ducks. Williams potted his second of the day to make it 2-1 with 18 seconds left in the second period.
Goals were at a premium as Jr. Ducks’ goalie Aidan Hanson made 18 saves on 19 shots. Edward Makar made 29 saves on 30 shots in a losing effort for Alaska.
With the victory in the final, the Jr. Ducks qualified for the Youth Tier I 16U National Championship in Grand Rapids, Mich.
14U and 18U Ducks skate in Vegas
The 14U Jr. Ducks went undefeated in Las Vegas, winning all five games by a combined score of 48-5. It wasn’t all easy though, as the Ducks had to hold on in a tough battle in the championship with the Jr. Kings, topping them 2-1.
The 18U Jr. Ducks rolled over the Portland Jr. Winterhawks 8-2 in their first game, then got a wake-up call. The Ducks were down 2-0 to Wenatchee, before responding with eight goals in a row. It was a rematch with Wenatchee in the final, which the Ducks won 7-1.
Both teams now head to the Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championships, with the 14U tournament being hosted in Pittsburgh, Pa., and the 18U tournament set for Grand Rapids, Mich.
Jr. Sharks defeat in-state rival Jr. Kings in Tier I 15-Only final
The Jr. Sharks fired 29 shots on goal to defeat the Jr. Kings 4-2, clinching a berth in the Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier I 15-Only National Championship in Plymouth, Mich.
Riley Ruh scored first in the contest as the Jr. Kings took a 1-0 lead in the first period.
After the Jr. Kings’ first goal, the Jr. Sharks would dominate the remainder of the game. They were able to score four unanswered goals to make it 4-1 going into the third period.
A Jr. Kings power-play goal in the third period by Blake Simons would make it 4-2.
Sean Mentzer’s first period goal would end up being the game-winner as the Jr. Sharks went on to claim the district title.
Despite the loss, Jr. Kings goaltender Lucas Massie made 25 saves on 29 shots. Matthew Malin only had to make nine saves in the victory for Jr. Sharks.