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SMCHS captures second straight national championship

 

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Santa Margarita Catholic High School continued its recent run of success at the USA Hockey National Championships, winning its second title in a row and third in six years on April 1 in Cleveland.

This one came without the heightened expectations that have followed previous Eagles teams. Their lineup featured a significant amount of turnover from last season’s championship squad, and it didn’t enjoy some of the regular-season or CAHA State success that its predecessor did.

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“We were a younger team,” Eagles coach Craig Johnson said of his Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League (ADHSHL) entry. “Last year, we rolled through States and the ADHSHL. This year, a lot of people doubted us. We lost at States to JSerra although we played well and controlled the play, outshooting them 32-12.”

But the Eagles kept after it, and an important life lesson played out in the process.

“For the kids to come out on top, it goes to show that if you believe in yourself and keep working, anything can happen, you can have success,” Johnson said.

Santa Margarita defeated Edina (Minn.) Junior Gold A 4-1 in the championship game.

Joshua Hyden scored the Eagles’ first three goals, and Brendan Williams added a shorthanded goal and two assists. Co-captain Joey Felicicchia chipped two assists. Brandon Yamasaki made 25 saves.

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In addition to the 2018 and 2013 championships, the Eagles have been national runner-up twice (2015, 2017) and finished third in 2011.

The irony of the championship game victory was the Eagles had lost to Edina in round-robin play 2-1.

“I remember seeing Edina during the year at a showcase in Minnesota and thinking they were really good, and then they landed in our group. We had a tough draw, which helped us,” Johnson said. “I thought we showed we could compete with them (in first game). The boys got a little confidence. We tied them 1-1 then they scored with 10 minutes left in the third.”

The Eagles carried that confidence into the final.

“We got them again in the championship, but we started slow,” Johnson said. “Then we competed harder and moved our feet more, executed better.

“The boys played unbelievable. In the championship game, we limited their chances, and we bought into playing defensive hockey. We created chances through forechecks and winning our battles.”

The Eagles reached the championship game by beating Bishop O’Connell (Va.) 6-2 in the quarterfinals and Bayard Rustin (Pa.) 6-3, in the semifinals.

The Hyden-Williams-Felicicchia line was dominant, and the Eagles’ defense played well all tournament. The Eagles allowed just 11 goals in six games.

Hyden’s nine goals were the second most in the tournament, while Williams’ five tied for fourth most. Each had 13 points, tied for second most in the tournament. Yamasaki’s five wins were the most, and Felicicchia’s eight points were tied for sixth most.

The Eagles’ roster also included goalie Jacob Rossi; defensemen Axel Carlberg, Aidan Casey, Aiden Cressy, Will Howhannesian, Lucas Marshall, Brian Mathis, Jerrett Overland, Grafton Platt III, Colin Sekerka, Kristian Seppanen and Hunter Voyles; and forwards Michael Allee, Daniel Doss, Nicholas Gluck, Marcus Kim, Taylor Loh, Ryan Riddlesperger, Maxwell Sullivan and Rocco Zimmerman.

“This team did all the little things really well,” Johnson said. “Sometimes, those little things add up.”

In Santa Margarita’s case they added up to another banner.

Other high school competitors: JSerra was the ADHSHL’s other Division I representative, and it went 1-2 at Nationals, defeating the Gleneig Gladiators 5-4. Conor Clarke led the team with three points, including two goals. JSerra won the CAHA State title as well as the ADHSHL playoff title.

In Division II, St. John Bosco went 1-2, defeating Zionsville Hockey Club 7-3. Preston Park scored eight points (four goals) and Dante Terremani added six points.

Lady Ducks win two women’s medals

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Women’s Senior B: In Irvine, the Anaheim Lady Ducks bounced back from an opening loss to win four games in a row and capture the title with a 5-0 victory over Detroit Honeybaked. Camille Corbin scored two goals, Laura Veharanta and Anne Girtz added a goal and two assists apiece. Sara O’Toole also scored. After falling to Detroit Belle Tire 4-3, the Lady Ducks won the rest of their games by a cumulative 17-2 count.

Women’s Senior C: In Anaheim, the LA Lions captured a silver medal, winning four games in a row before falling to the Minnesota Blue J Bandits 5-2 in the final. Talla Faubert and Tori Pizzuto led the Lions with eight points apiece. The Lady Ducks, who lost to the Lions in the semifinals 3-0, won a bronze medal.

Tier I Boys

18U: In Grand Rapids, Mich., playing in a division with the runner-up North Jersey Avalanche, the Jr. Ducks went 0-2-1 in pool play. Jerrett Overland and John Klus had two points apiece.

16U: Also in Grand Rapids, playing in a division with silver medalist Yale, the Jr. Ducks went 0-3 in pool play, twice losing 3-2 games. Brendan Williams and Jackson Ferry each had three points.

15U: In Plymouth, Mich., the San Jose Jr. Sharks went 0-2-1 in pool play, falling in a shootout and also by two goals in another game. Maclain Chaney led the Jr. Sharks with three points.

14U: Also in Pittsburgh, playing in a division with champion Little Caesars, the Jr. Ducks went 1-2 in pool play, defeating the Sioux Falls Power 9-2. Benjamin Ivey had three goals in the tournament, while Russell Bustamante, Jason Stefanek and Jungwook Hong each had three points.

Tier I Girls

19U: In Irvine, the Jr. Sharks went 1-2 in pool play, beating Team North Dakota 4-3. Claire Peterson had a goal and an assist in that win. Playing in a division with runner-up Shattuck-St. Mary’s, the Lady Ducks went 0-2-1 in pool play. Marissa Gebauer led the way with five points, and Ivy Boric added four.

16U: In Irvine, the Lady Ducks started strong, falling to eventual champion Chicago Mission 2-1 in pool play before losing their next two preliminary games. Callie Wollschlager and Sevilla Banda Hawthorne scored goals for the Lady Ducks.

14U: Also in Irvine, the Lady Ducks allowed eight goals in three games but went 1-2 in pool play. Alexandra Lalonde had five points, including four goals. Playing in a division with the champion Pittsburgh Pens Elite, the Jr. Sharks went 0-3 in pool play. Emma Rathje scored for San Jose.

Tier II Boys

18U: In San Jose, the Jr. Ducks lost to Big Boy Red 5-4 in the quarterfinals after going 2-1 in pool play in the 3A tournament. Jacob Padgett had seven points and Gavin O’Bryan added six. Both had four goals for the Jr. Ducks. The Jr. Sharks went 1-2 in pool play, getting a shutout from Henry Lissner to defeat the South Shore Kings. Rio Kanamaki, Henry Chavez III and Aleksander Erk had three points apiece.

16U: In Plano, Tex., the Jr. Ducks lost to the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies 5-2 in the quarterfinals after going 2-1 in pool play in a division with champion Cheektowaga in the 3A tournament. Cory Girard Jr. led the Jr. Ducks with three assists.

14U: In South Bend, Ind., the California Golden Bears went 1-2 in pool play in the 3A tournament, defeating the Ashburn Xtreme 4-2. The other two teams in the pool, CHA-CSDHL and Canton Hockey, played for the championship. Rohan Anand and Colin Chon had four points apiece for the Golden Bears.

— Chris Bayee

(May 1, 2019)