CAHA Tier I state titles claimed by Jr. Ducks, Jr. Kings
For any team serious about success at the AAA level, the California Amateur Hockey Association Tier I state championships represent both a major milestone and a significant stepping stone to the larger goals of regional and national titles.
On the weekend of Feb. 5-7 in Southern California, a half-dozen teams from the Golden State skated to state titles, with the Anaheim Jr. Ducks sweeping the top four levels and the Los Angeles Jr. Kings taking the two Pee Wee championships.
Following is a breakdown of those six title teams and how they became champions.
18U Major: The Jr. Ducks won all three of their games in the state tournament, toppling the California Titans 4-1 in the championship game. They opened the tournament with a 3-2 victory over the California Wave and shut out the Titans 3-0 in their second game.
Larry Barron is the head coach of the Jr. Ducks’ top team and is assisted by Robert Walsh. The team includes forwards Paul Selleck, Andre Ghantous, Zachary Kiser, Declan Curtis, Jack Sitzman, Alec Grollman, Matthew Poindexter, Nicholas Schultze, Brandon Bergado, Bryce Hunt and Taylor Urch; defensemen Julian Timba, Kevin O’Leary, Kyle Mayhew, Blaise Johnson, Regnars Udris and Justin Driffill; and goalies Rob Ivy and Alexander Frosh.
“I am very proud of the group and the accomplishment they achieved,” said Barron. “No championship ever comes easy and the boys found their way through the many layers of adversity that they had to face.”
16U Major: The Jr. Ducks ice two AAA teams at the 16U Major level, and their No. 1 team (pictured above) toppled their No. 2 team in the championship game 4-0. The Jr. Ducks beat the same team 3-2 in the tournament opener, then squeezed past the California Titans 2-1 to reach the title tilt.
“I am proud of the way the players played throughout the weekend,” said Alex Kim, the team’s head coach. “Our effort in the championship game was very good. It has been a challenging season this year with many obstacles that this group has had to overcome, and they have been resilient through the process. We are looking forward to districts in March and hope to have a great showing there as well.”
Kim’s assistant coaches are August Aiken and David Walker, and his roster includes forwards Jake Sujishi, Jack Lippis, Casey Rhodes, Ronald Bomberry, Taesuk Lee, Jesse Lycan, Dylan Reightley, Vail Ardizzone, Nathan Katzaroff, Cooper Haar, Robert Herrman and Niko Grollman; defensemen Dylan Kammer, Ryan Wilson, Blake Howard, Luke Hicks, Stanislav Demin and Nicolo Rubino; goalies Carl Stankowski and Patrick Pugliese.
14U Major: With a dominating performance all three days, the Jr. Ducks’ Bantam Major AAA team eased to a state championship. The Jr. Ducks skated to 4-0 victory over the San Diego Jr. Gulls on Friday, then eased to another shutout Saturday – this one a 6-0 decision over the San Jose Jr. Sharks. In Sunday’s championship game, the Jr. Ducks left no doubt about who was the best team in the division, romping to an 8-3 victory over the Jr. Sharks.
Craig Johnson coaches the Jr. Ducks’ 14U major team. His roster includes Dylan Bachalo, Luc Charbonnier, Ryan Green, Joseph Harguindeguy, Patrick Harrington II, Ryan Johnson, Connor Kemp, Ethan Lahmon, Nicholas Lee, Spencer Light, Peter Lychnikoff, Collin Madrid, Liam Massie, Jackson Niedermayer, Dominique Petrie, Joseph Quast, Thomas Sherman, Riley Silos and Anderson Violette.
14U Minor: The Jr. Ducks also took home the state title at the Bantam Minor level. They skated to a convincing 6-3 victory over the Jr. Sharks to kick off the tournament on Friday, and their 1-0 win Saturday over the Jr. Gulls secured their spot in the championship game. They made it look easy in the final, rollicking to a 10-2 triumph over the Jr. Gulls to earn their state title.
The Jr. Ducks’ 14U Minor team is coached by David Walker and assistants Kris Badame and Tim Kraus. The roster features forwards Brendan Williams, Brendan Ma, Tyler Silverstein, Cade Libertoski, Jong Yun, Tyler Badame, Jackson Ferry, Tristan Rand and Tyler McNeil; defensemen Michael Sabad, Kobe Pane, Nicholas Smith, Robert Zammetti and Caleb Cordas; and goalies Sebastian Graf and Aidan Hanson.
“This year has been a year of learning for a lot of our kids,” Walker said. “Moving from Pee Wees non-contact to Bantam with contact was not the easiest transition. As a team, we discussed all year that our success will depend on how committed our team will be with the process and the little things. The kids worked extremely hard all year and are very deserving of everything they earned as a team. I’m very proud of this group.”
12U Major: The Jr. Kings got off to a scorching start in the state tournament and never looked back. They romped to a 19-0 win over the Jr. Sharks in the tourney opener, then toppled the Jr. Ducks 9-0. In Sunday’s championship game, they came out on top in a rematch with the Jr. Ducks, 5-2.
Jeff Turcotte coaches the Jr. Kings’ Pee Wee Major team alongside assistants James Gasseau and Glen Murray. The roster includes forwards Noah Alvarez, Brody Biller, Jordan Brisson, Andre Gasseau, Arvega Hovsepyan, Paul Minnehan, Parker Murray, Riley Ruh and Ean Somoza; defensemen Shai Buium, Ryan Gumlia, Aidan Hreschuk, Shane McElhaney, Ty Murchison and Spencer Shugrue; and goalies Alexander Bonrouhi and Jackson Baker.
“This group has been together for a few years, and they’re a very smart hockey team,” Turcotte said. “It’s nice to finish out on top here in California, and now we go off to Quebec (for the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament).
“The kids are very talented, smart, and they work hard. It’s a fun group to teach – with this group, they get it the first time, and they love the game.”
12U Minor: It was a sweep of the Pee Wee division for the Jr. Kings, as the program’s Minor team also came away with a state championship. The Jr. Kings edged the Jr. Sharks 3-2 in their first game of the tournament. They then toppled the Jr. Ducks 10-5 and fell to the Jr. Sharks 2-1 in a shootout. They fell in another shootout 3-2 to the Jr. Ducks, but rebounded for a 5-1 victory over the Jr. Ducks in the championship game.
The Jr. Kings’ 12U minor team is coached by Igor Nikulin and assistants Shawn Pitcher and Jaroslav Modry. The roster includes forwards Joshua Bonrouhi, Jefferson Coffin, Brando DiAntonio, Sebastian Hunter, James Mastrosimone, Luc Modry, Cade Moxham and Merril Steenari; defensemen Sean Dolim, Michael Karvelas, Jazek Terrill, Connor Thue, Brandon White and Anthony Yu; and goalies Chloe Baker, Vincent Lamberti.
— Greg Ball