With the calendar turned to March, plenty of teams within the Los Angeles Jr. Kings and LA Lions programs still hold high hopes of making postseason waves at the state, regional and national levels.
After winning a California Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) Tier I state championship last month, the organization’s Jeff Turcotte-coached 16U AAA team, along with its James Gasseau-led 15U AAA and Shawn Pitcher-coached 14U AAA teams, earned a berth to this year’s Pacific District Championships, which are being showcased this weekend (March 6-10); the 16 and 15 teams are playing their districts at Irvine’s Great Park Ice, while the 14 squad is in Las Vegas.
The winners of each division will advance to next month’s USA Hockey National Championships, which will be contested from April 3-8 in Grand Rapids, Mich. (16U AAA division), Plymouth, Mich. (15U AAA) and Pittsburgh (14U AAA).
At the A, BB and B levels, eight Jr. Kings and Lions teams qualified for the Southern California Amateur Hockey Association (SCAHA) playoffs after fashioning top-six-or-eight regular-season finishes in their respective divisions, including the organization’s 14U A team, coached by Tony Rudy; 12U A1 squad, led by Jeff Bain; 12U A2 team, coached by Sam Graham; 12U BB club, led by Chet Carlbom; 12U B squad, coached by Ryan Santana; 10U A1 team (pictured), led by Dimitri Voulelikas; 10U A2 club, coached by Jamie Storr; and Lions’ 10U B Flight II team, led by Richard Gomez.
All eight squads will play their opening quarterfinal rounds on March 9-10, with the 12U A and 10U A teams facing off at Ice Station Valencia; 12U B and Lions’ 10U B squads at Anaheim's KHS Ice Arena; 14U A team at Burbank's LA Kings Ice at Pickwick Gardens; and 12U BB team at Ice-Plex Escondido.
After quarters, the top two teams in each pool in each division (four teams total per division) will advance to the semifinals, which will be held the weekend of March 16-17 in Valencia.
The teams advancing from semis will compete in the SCAHA Championships, which will take place the weekend of March 23-24 at El Segundo’s Toyota Sports Center, followed by the season-ending CAHA State Championships, which will be played from March 29-31 in San Jose.
The Jr. Kings’ Pee Wee AA1 team, led by head coach Kyle Calder, already qualified for the CAHA Tier II State Championships after advancing through 12U AA Playdowns, which were showcased last weekend (March 1-3) at Vacaville Ice Sports. The four-team states will be played from March 15-17 at Ice-Plex Escondido.
Other season-ending accolades for L.A. this month included Tier I state championships won at the 13U AAA, 12U AAA and 11U AAA levels.