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Jr. Ducks’ 16U AAA team making tracks to top of CAHA, Tier 1 Elite League

 

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Championships aren’t won in December, but the Anaheim Jr. Ducks’ 16U AAA team has put itself squarely on the national radar with a start that didn’t include a regulation loss in nearly 30 games.

The Jr. Ducks soared to the top ranking by myhockeyrankings.com in early December with just two losses – one in overtime and one in a shootout – in Tier 1 Elite Hockey League (T1EHL) events while piling up 26 wins.

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“We’ve got a really good group of kids,” said co-coach Alex Kim. “They all get along and are supportive of each other. There’s a lot of cohesion on and off the ice, and that’s a big part of having success.”

The Jr. Ducks had 19 wins in 20 T1EHL games, with the one loss coming in overtime to the Colorado Thunderbirds. The Jr. Ducks had a 107-18 scoring differential in the highly competitive youth league.

They won two of three at the USHL Fall Classic in Pittsburgh, falling only in a shootout to the Chicago Mission. The Jr. Ducks started 7-0 in CAHA play, outscoring foes 42-3.

“This is a group that is very easy to coach,” added co-coach Craig Johnson. “They come to the rink every time willing to listen, willing to work and willing to get better. They’re getting rewarded for what they’re doing every day.

“Everyone one wants to be a better player.”

About one-third of the team has played together for all or nearly all of their youth hockey careers for Johnson and assistant coach Scott Niedermayer. That familiarity has also helped, Johnson said.

Josh Groll had 42 points (19 goals), Jackson Niedermayer had 37 points (21 goals), Ryan Johnson had 34 points (26 assists), Thomas Cody Sherman had 33 points and Joseph Harguindeguy and Jonathan Panisa had 27 each.

The goaltending tag team of Tyler Shea and Ethan Lahmon has been lights out. Shea had not allowed in goal in four CAHA appearances, and Lahmon was 10-0 with four shutouts in the Tier 1 league. Both had save percentages above .950.

— Chris Bayee

(Dec. 21, 2017)