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Santa Margarita Catholic repeats as CAHA high school state champs

 

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When Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita won back-to-back CAHA high school state titles in 2012 and 2013, members of the current Eagles team were in junior high school and elementary school.

Now those players can also call themselves two-time CAHA champs, as the Eagles followed up their 2017 title by skating to a 7-3 win over Orange Lutheran at THE RINKS-Anaheim ICE in the state championship game March 4.

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“The team played very well,” said Eagles coach Craig Johnson. “We came in with a lot of intensity and focus, and we executed. The kids had the goal at the beginning of the year that they wanted to be state champs, and they were able to achieve their first goal.”

The Eagles opened the state playoffs on March 2 with a 4-0 victory over JSerra. On March 3, they toppled Orange Lutheran 5-0. They skated past Bellarmine Prep 6-2 later in the day to secure their spot in the championship game. Orange Lutheran reached the title tilt with a 2-1 record in round-robin play. They topped Bellarmine 5-4 in the opening game, then fell to Santa Margarita 5-0 and rebounded to beat JSerra 3-1 on March 3.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the Eagles winning the state title for a second consecutive year is the roster turnover from last season to this campaign.

“We lost eight or nine seniors after last season,” Johnson said. “But we have great leadership from our seniors this year, and we have some really good younger guys as well.”

The Eagles’ 2017-18 roster includes forwards Brian Armijo, Joseph Felicicchia, Maxwell Sullivan, Taylor Loh, Brendan Williams, Will Howhannesian, Jesse Logan Orsini, Nicholas Gluck, Marcus Kim, Daniel Doss, Dylan Hernandez-Ramirez, Leevi Selanne, John Mulvihill II, Aidan Casey, Nicolas Mauthe and Tyler Badame; defensemen Jerrett Overland, Brian Mathis, Jacob Makowecki, Ryan Parkinson, Kevin Peck, Michael Allee, Hunter Voyles and Ryan Johnson; and goalies Brandon Yamasaki, Fred Taylor II, Jacob Rossi and Megan Warren. Kaelin Groon, Jesse Orsini and Kevin Skule serve as assistant coaches to Johnson.

During the regular season, the Eagles outscored their opponents 119-17 en route to a perfect 16-0 campaign. They toppled Orange Lutheran, their eventual championship game opponent, three times by a margin of six goals or more.

Mauthe led the team with 20 regular-season goals and 10 assists, while Selanne, Williams, Orsini and Felicicchia also found the back of the net 10 or more times. Taylor logged the most minutes in goal, recording a perfect 13-0 record with 116 saves and a miniscule 1.08 goals-against average.

Next on their radar for the Eagles is the goal that has been at the top of their list all season – winning the USA Hockey High School Nationals, held March 22-26 in Plymouth, Minn., which they qualified for by virtue of their CAHA state championship.

Last season, the Eagles advanced to the championship game but came home without the trophy after a one-goal defeat to Pennsylvania-based Bayard Rustin High School. In 2013, they became the first California team to win a national championship and have played in the title game twice since then.

“We played well last year – we got some bad bounces early in the game and battled back, but it just didn’t work out for us,” Johnson said. “It was very disappointing, but I think this year the kids are prepared to go back and make the most of their opportunities.”

One of the first teams to join the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League, Santa Margarita quickly developed a winning tradition, and has carried that on. The Eagles, founded in 2009, won back-to-back CAHA high school state titles in 2012 and 2013 and now have secured consecutive titles again.

“It says a lot about our program and the culture that the kids have helped create,” Johnson said.

In addition, St. John Bosco won the 2A state championship, 5-4 over Capistrano United, and will also head to Minnesota later this month.

— Greg Ball

(March 21, 2018)