Jr. Ducks teams capture quartet of NHL Youth Cup championships
The Anaheim Jr. Ducks’ NHL Youth Cup overfloweth.
Four birth year teams out of six won NHL Youth Cup West championships during the first weekend in January. Two of the four won them at the brand-new Great Park ICE & Five Point Arena in Irvine.
“It was our first tournament at the new building,” Great Park ICE general manager Eddie Hawkins said. “Everything went really smoothly, and we’re proud of how well the Jr. Ducks did.”
The club won titles in the 2005 and 2007 age groups and finished runner-up at 2009. The 2004 and 2008 birth years won championships in the Dallas area.
The sixth annual tournament provides NHL-affiliated youth hockey clubs the opportunity to play a weekend series of five games against each other in a showcase format.
This was the third year in a row the Jr. Ducks hosted a Western event, with the past two at The Rinks-Anaheim ICE.
This year’s event came just two days after the new facility opened on Jan. 2. Two of its four rinks were utilized for the Youth Cup. The other two were ready on Jan. 16, just in time for the inaugural MLK Classic on Jan. 18-21.
“We heard nothing but positive feedback about the facility,” Hawkins said.
On the tournament’s opening night, there was a welcome ceremony at its amphitheater that included special guests Pat LaFontaine, a Hockey Hall of Famer, former Anaheim Ducks defenseman Bryan Allen and Ken Martel, a California native who is USA Hockey’s technical director of its American Development Model.
The Jr. Ducks defeated the LA Jr. Kings 4-2 in the 2005 final. The Jr. Ducks edged the same opponent 2-1 in the 2007 final. The Dallas Stars edged the Jr. Ducks 4-3 in the 2009 final.
In the 2004 final, the Jr. Ducks defeated the Colorado Thunderbirds 3-2. In the 2008 championship game, the Jr. Ducks edged the Dallas Stars 9-8 in a shootout.
— Chris Bayee
(Jan. 28, 2019)