Flyers, Jr. Sharks each secure two CAHA A/B state titles
The second weekend in April brought the CAHA State A and B Championships to Sharks Ice in San Jose, and nine teams went home toting championship banners.
Following is a breakdown of each of those teams and how they were crowned champions.
Midget A 18U – Tri-Valley Blue Devils
The Blue Devils captured a second consecutive midget 18U state title with an impressive performance in the state championship tournament. The opened on April 8 with a 9-4 win over the Jr. Flyers, then skated to an 11-0 romp over the Heat the next day. Later on April 9, they suffered their only loss of the tournament, a 4-3 defeat to the Blackhawks in a shootout. On April 10, they responded in a rematch with the Blackhawks, securing a 3-1 victory in the championship game.
The Blue Devils roster includes forwards Garrett Fitzgerald, Jacob Colombo, Alejandro Lorono, Brian O’Connell, Joseph Schott, Jered Stevenson, Parker Stone, Dana Stoneman and Matt Zukoski; defensemen Tyler Asbury, Tiegen Bagnall, Tyler Dawson, Jeremy Goldhawk and Josh Wood; and goalie Robert Lucas. Coaches John Burgess and Todd Lyijynen were assisted by Mark Goldhawk and William Stone.
“I am very proud of everything this team has accomplished this year,” Burgess said. “When we completed our tryouts, we knew we had a good group of players, and as the season unfolded we could see that we had the chance to be part of something very special. We had five returning players from our state championship-winning team from last year and 10 new players to the team. The core of the team has played their entire minor hockey career at Tri-Valley, and we had some players return to Tri-Valley for their final season.”
Midget A 16U – San Jose Jr. Sharks
The Jr. Sharks won one of their two A/B state titles by going a perfect 4-0 in the tournament. On April 8, they opened with a 6-5 triumph over the Jr. Monsters and on April 9, they secured a 4-1 victory over the Cougars. A 6-5 overtime victory later that day against the Jets, their rivals from Vacaville, got them into the championship game, and the next afternoon, their power-play exploded for a 6-1 title game win over the Jr. Monsters.
The Jr. Sharks roster includes forwards Henry Chavez, Todd Thompson Jr., Gio Tarantino, Mykhaylo Ivchenko, Tyler Jue, J.P. King, Mason Hackel, Justin Sternad, Erik Larsson and John Luo; defensemen Alex Maass, Carter Tetherow, Mitchell Elliott, Cole Montoya, Paul Luo and Stephen Fleck; and goalies Alan Maupas-Reigel and Dylan Kamleiter.
“Winning a state championship is the ultimate prize at the A level,” Jr. Sharks coach Tyler Gloski said. “Winning it is the ultimate feeling of accomplishment as a group, and it solidifies the bond you’ve formed over the course of the season.
“They have completely gelled as a unit over the course of the year and now they have accomplished the very lofty goals they set for themselves. In five tournaments, we reached the championship game four times (winning the Chicago Midwinter Classic, and states).”
Bantam A – Capital Thunder
The Thunder didn’t leave much margin for error, but they rumbled home with a state championship banner nonetheless. They had to go to a shootout in their opening game, a 3-2 win over the SDIA Oilers on April 8, and on April 9, they edged the Anaheim Jr. Ducks 2-1. They gave themselves some breathing room and punched their ticket to the championship game with a 3-0 win over the Jets later on the 9th, but in a rematch for the title, they were back to their nail-biting ways, skating to a 4-3 triumph.
The Thunder’s roster includes forwards Francis Flood, Curtis P. Fox, Hunter Getchel, Hunter Hall, Keoni Harris, Hayden Kapanen, Nolan McMahon and Dominic Pollizzi; defensemen Samuel Gaiduchik, Paul Khayet, Carson Schumm and Brandon M. Villaflor; and goalie Damon Leaf.
“These guys really played hard,” Thunder coach Mike Getchel said. “Man for man, we weren’t usually the best team out there, but they played hard and never gave up. We had a real small roster – we had only 10 kids when we won NorCals. Most of the kids were older, which was a big factor because they had been through it before. They really never gave up.”
Bantam B – Santa Rosa Flyers
The Flyers took off early and never looked back en route to their state championship. A 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Jr. Ducks got them started on April 8, and they surged to a 6-2 win over the Dragons on later that night. A 4-0 defeat to the Colts on April 9 put a wrench in their momentum, but they had already done enough to secure second place in their pool, and they bounced back to beat the Colts 3-2 in the title tilt on Sunday for the team’s second state championship in three years.
The Flyers roster includes forwards Kieran Andrews, Cole Charbonnier, Mason Glantz, Jake Herman, Joshua Kaspar, Taj Krieger, Toby Petrus, Zander Sadorra, Mason Siemsen, Mathew Sigel, Henry Winter and Logan Zimmerman; defensemen Hayden Bradley, Gordon Brodeur, Ally Kuehn and Kyle Ridenour; and goalie Colton Lomanto.
“We knew we had a core of experienced players who could take us far, depending on the development of some of the core players,” Flyers coach Mike Kovanis said. “Things started to come together well as the season progressed. We went to some tournaments that were pretty competitive, but we wanted to push ourselves, and knew it would be good for our kids in the long run. They came to understand what it was like to play against tough competition and in high-pressure games.”
Pee Wee A – Channel Islands Riptide
The Riptide ripped through the Pee Wee A division at the state championship tournament, outscoring its opponents 26-9 over the course of four games. They kicked it off with a 7-6 victory in overtime over the Blue Devils on April 8, and the next morning, eased to a 6-1 win over the Black Stars. Later on April 9, they secured the top position in their pool with another 6-1 win, this one over the L.A. Jr. Kings. In Sunday’s championship game, they knocked off the Black Stars 7-1.
The Riptide are coached by Ryan Kalan, with assistance from Brian Vogel. The roster includes forwards Aidan Anderson, Jacon Miltko, Ellis O’Dowd, Luke Perri, Alex Skenderiajn and Cameron Stone; defensemen Tyler Donovan, William Farrell IV, Nicholas Tivy and Maxwell Vogel; goalies Timothy Barbee Jr. and Brandon Inumerable; and managers Kevin O’Dowd and Dino Inumerable.
“I’ve been an assistant coach with most of these guys since they were Mites, so that’s really special,” Vogel said. “This year, it really all came together for them. It was truly a joy to coach these kids – they really worked hard every single practice and games.
“Ryan Kalan is the best head coach I’ve worked with yet. He made sure all these guys developed and got better.”
Pee Wee B – Santa Rosa Flyers
The Flyers captured the program’s second championship of the weekend thanks to a strong team performance. A 4-1 victory over the Maple Leafs got them started on the right foot, and they escaped with a 1-0 overtime win in their Friday night game against the OC Hockey Club. They suffered a 1-0 defeat, also in overtime, to the Blackhawks Saturday, but returned to form on Sunday, winning 3-0 over the Maple Leafs to capture the state title.
The Flyers’ roster includes forwards Ryan Latz, Samuel Pack, Owen Hamblin, Ethan Davis, Jack DiNardo, Ismael Martino, Jake Palm, Hudson Levesque and James Palm; defensemen Nicholas Meshcheryakov, Ethan Bittner, Ian Hopkins and Jahnyha Kofalk; and goalie Will Cornelius, who faced 79 shots in the state tournament and allowed just two goals.
“Santa Rosa isn’t exactly a hotbed for youth hockey, so we don’t have a ton of kids playing, but if they stick with it from year to year, they get a lot better quickly because they get a lot of ice time,” Flyers coach Greg Cornelius said. “Two years ago, these kids didn’t win a regular-season game, but they stuck with it and started to understand the game the way it’s supposed to be played. They really learned to play as a team, and it really was a team effort the whole season. It was great to watch.”
Squirt A – San Jose Jr. Sharks
The second of the Jr. Sharks’ state titles wasn’t nearly as easy as the first. The Jr. Sharks lost an overtime heartbreaker, 6-5, to open the tournament on April 8, and followed that with an 8-3 defeat to the Anaheim Jr. Ducks. They bounced back with a 4-1 win over the Colts on April 9, and thanks to their overtime defeat earlier, had just enough points to secure the No. 2 position after round-robin play. They faced a formidable Jr. Ducks team in the championship game that had scored 21 goals in its first three games, but came out on top with a 6-4 victory that gave them the championship banner.
The Jr. Sharks’ roster includes forwards Donovan Bradford, Rupert Chen, Caden Ghiossi, Max Oppenheim, Nayan Pai, Patrick Fast, Micah Knecht, Vilho Lahtela and Aden Valencia; defensemen Shaun Rios, Dash Nakahata, Cormac Grebe, Zachary Phillips, Philippe Blais-Savoie and Robert Zhang; and goalies Evan Tompkins and Brett DeVincent.
“Growing up in California and playing for the Jr.Sharks, I was never able to win a state title as a player, so for me, being able to coach these kids and see them grow as a team and help achieve their goal is amazing,” Jr. Sharks coach Salvatore Barranco said. “Seeing those kids react and their faces as the clock ran down was something special that I will never forget.”
Squirt BB – Jr. Ice Dogs
The Ice Dogs started hot, cooled off and then responded when everything was on the line. They opened the state tournament with a 6-2 victory over the Jr. Sharks on April 8, and later that afternoon, rolled to an 8-1 win over a second team from the Jr. Sharks program. On April 9, they suffered a 4-3 defeat to the Dragons in overtime, but the next morning, answered the bell and secured a 4-3 championship game triumph in a rematch with the Dragons.
The Ice Dogs roster includes forwards Jack Anderson, Carter Ashby, Nuallan Crawford, Zach Ellis, Aidan Grant, Richard Kvists, Freddie Nelson, Tatum Ramos and Jack Riley; defensemen William Bisset, Preston Hargrove, Cohen Krudwig and Tyler McGowan; and goalie Dylan Newton. Dakota Eveland, Ruben Rumbaut and Jackson Wozniak served as assistants to head coach Sean Riley.
“This was a new team that hadn’t been together before,” Riley said. “As far as our expectations were, we definitely exceeded them.
“A lot of our success can be attributed to the fact that we had 100 percent buy-in from the parents, which led to the players really buying in. We also had an incredible group on our coaching staff, and we got a lot of support from the KHS staff in getting this team started.”
Squirt B – Desert Blaze
With a perfect 4-0 record, the Blaze stormed through the state championship tournament. A 9-3 win over the Grizzlies sparked their momentum on April 8, and they skated to a 5-2 victory over the Blue Devils later in the day. They beat the Jr. Flyers 4-1 on Saturday and eased to an 8-5 victory in a rematch on championship Sunday.
The Blaze’s roster includes forwards Calvin Ruggiero, John Martino, Sheldon Alexander, Tanner Magri, Parker Graham, Ryen Gabuya, Tevin Stokes and Derek MacDougall; defensemen John Ruggiero, Cooper Letendre, Sergei Pickowitz, Ryan Mackie and Trevor MacDougall; and goalie Maverick Avent.
“Our guys are very excited,” Blaze coach Jeff Larson said. “This is just our fourth year as a program, and when these guys started as Mites, we were getting beat badly every game and scored only one goal in that first season, I think. But the kids stuck with it, got better, and it’s rewarding to win a state championship.”
— Greg Ball