For the first time in recent memory, a club completed a sweep of the Pacific District championships.
All three Jr. Kings teams representing Los Angeles advanced to the USA Hockey Tier I National Championships next month in Green Bay, Wis. The Jr. Kings did not lose a game on any level despite facing stiff competition from all over the West Coast and Alaska.
“It’s amazing,” 18-and-Under Jr. Kings coach Jack Bowkus said. “It just goes to show the depth in our organization at these levels. It’s nice to see that we get the opportunity to go to nationals together and support one another.”
The Los Angeles Jr. Kings 14U team found the net with ease throughout the four-day event, scoring 33 goals while allowing eight. They punched their ticket to nationals with an 11-0 victory over the San Jose Jr. Sharks.
Over the course of the district championships, forward Cameron Hausinger scored seven goals. Forward Robert Herrman led the team with six assists. Forwards Cole Guttman and Luke Ormsby each netted six goals.
Guttman scored four goals in the title match against San Jose, while Hausinger and Ormsby also rang up a hat trick. Goalie Rhett Bruckner blocked 14 shots in the final.
The Jr. Kings’ 16U team, which could be a serious contender at nationals, also went undefeated. The 16U squad finished with a 5-1 victory over the Alaska Jr. Aces. Kailer Yamamoto led the team with seven points on four goals and three assists.
Lastly, the Jr. Kings 18U squad toppled the Jr. Sharks, Jr. Aces and Ontario Avalanche en route to a title victory over the Jr. Aces. Jared Pike had three goals and three assists throughout the championships, while Evan Weinger found the net four times. Goalie Niko Dellamaggiore blocked 47 shots, allowing just one to slip by.
Rough time for host Sharks
While the San Jose Jr. Sharks 14U team reached the Tier I finals, Sharks Ice didn’t offer much of a home arena advantage for the local club.
The 14U team defeated the Alaska Jr. Aces 4-3 and Team Seattle 15-0, but had to face the powerful Jr. Kings twice. Matthew Durst scored three goals (two short-handed) and was credited with three assists. Joseph Cassetti led the 14U Jr. Sharks with nine points (4-5).
However, the 16U Jr. Sharks managed just one victory over Team Seattle. The Jr. Kings defeated the Jr. Sharks 7-2 in the semifinal.
The 18U Jr. Sharks started with a loss to the Jr. Kings, then weathered a tough overtime loss to the Ontario Avalanche before finishing with a 5-2 loss to the Jr. Aces.
Alaska Jr. Aces place two teams in finals
The Alaska Jr. Aces had one of the longest journeys to San Jose, but they had several supporters on hand. The teams rewarded friends and relatives for their dedication by placing two teams in the finals.
Both the 16U and 18U had their runs ended by the Jr. Kings, but the strong showing affirms that the Jr. Aces are a force in the district.
“I think every year we’re getting stronger,” 18U Jr. Aces coach Merit Waldrop said.
Sharks Ice was familiar territory to two members of the Jr. Kings 14U team, who recently moved to Los Angeles from San Jose.
Nicolo Rubino and Cameron Ward both received loud cheers from family who didn’t have to travel far to see them play. Ward’s immediate family moved down to L.A. last year; Rubino’s two years ago.
Both players said that it didn’t have much impact on the ice, but Ward admitted that it was nice to “have your own bed.”
“All my mom’s side and all my dad side came here to watch the [final] game,” Rubino said. “It definitely felt good to win by that much.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Youth Tier I
14U: Los Angeles Junior Kings
16U: Los Angeles Junior Kings
18U: Los Angeles Junior Kings
Youth Tier II
14U: Los Angeles Jr. Kings
16U: Channel Island Riptide
18U: Anaheim Jr. Ducks