Jr. Ducks, Lady Ducks cap successful 2018-19 campaigns in style
The 2018-19 season will be a tough one to top for the various entities under the umbrella of the Irvine ICE Foundation Amateur Hockey Association and their alumni.
Those include the Anaheim Jr. Ducks and Anaheim Lady Ducks.
Any discussion has to begin with the opening of the state-of-the-art Great Park ICE four-sheet facility in Irvine at the beginning of 2019. The venue played host to CAHA and Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League (ADHSHL) games as well as various tournaments, including the USA Hockey girls Tier I National Tournament in early April. It also serves as the Anaheim Ducks’ practice facility.
The Jr. Ducks accomplished several notable firsts, not the least of which was having two of their alumni – defensemen Cam York and Ryan Johnson – selected in the first round of June’s NHL Draft. They’re only the fourth and fifth California-born and –trained players ever taken in the first round, and York (14th overall) became the highest-drafted Californian ever.
The Jr. Ducks also qualified a club-record five teams (14U, 16U and 18U at Tier I and 16U and 18U at Tier II) for the USA Hockey National Tournament. Since 2015, the club has sent 10 Tier I teams and five Tier II teams to Nationals.
The club also had four more alumni make Division I college commitments, bringing its total since the 2014-15 season to 21. The latest group included York (Michigan), Jackson Niedermayer (Arizona State), and Jonathan Panisa and Ethan Wolthers (both to UMass).
In addition to playing host to Nationals, the Lady Ducks also had at least six more players make college commitments, giving the program more than 125 college commitments in its 20 years. This year’s group included Lokelani Antonio (Lindenwood), Ivy Boric and Lilla Nease (Plattsburgh), Marissa Gebauer and Iman Shepard (Lake Forest) and Madison Laue (Robert Morris/ACHA). Former Lady Ducks making commitments included Lexi Tillemans (Endicott) and Sam Smigliani (Colgate).
And one of its alumni, Annie Pankowski, not only finished her illustrious college career in style by captaining Wisconsin to an NCAA championship, but she scored the golden goal for Team USA in the Women’s World Championships later in April.
For good measure, ADHSHL member Santa Margarita won its second consecutive national championship and third in five seasons. JSerra won the 1A CAHA title, while St. John Bosco captured the 2A crown.
— Chris Bayee
(July 30, 2019)