The Los Angeles Jr. Kings’ 16U AAA and 14U AAA teams qualified for next month’s USA Hockey National Championships after celebrating titles in their respective divisions at this year’s Pacific District Championships, which were showcased last weekend (March 5-8) in Tacoma, Wash.
At the Tier I national tournament, which will run from April 1-6 (the 16U division in Rochester, Mich.; 14U in Chicago), the squads will face off against the rest of the country’s best in their age group.
At the 16U level, the state champion Jr. Kings, led by head coach Mark Hardy, forged a 3-1 record at districts, including a hard-fought 2-1 triumph over the Wenatchee Wilderness in Sunday’s championship game.
The Jr. Kings opened the round-robin portion of the tournament on Thursday with a 5-0 loss to Wentachee but rebounded with victories over the Seattle Jr. Thunderbirds (5-0 on Friday) and San Jose Jr. Sharks (10-2 on Saturday) to advance to the championship game.
Forward Easton Armstrong led the Jr. Kings’ scoring charge over the weekend with seven points (four goals), followed by forwards Ean Somoza (two goals for six points) and Russell Bustamante (two goals, six points). Between the pipes, goaltender Alex Bonrouhi won two games, including the Sunday’s districts-clincher, and Lucas Massie the other.
Under the direction of head coach Jack Bowkus, the state champion 14U AAA team also fashioned a 3-1 record at districts, including a 5-1 victory over the Jr. Sharks in the title game.
The squad opened its weekend on Thursday with a 3-0 win over Team Alaska, followed by a 9-2 triumph over the Seattle Jr. Northwest Admirals the next day. On Sunday, the Jr. Kings dropped a 3-1 decision to the Jr. Sharks setting up Sunday’s rematch for the championship.
Forward Aidan Park connected for three goals for nine points to lead the Jr. Kings’ scoring attack over the weekend, followed by forwards Hunter Anderson (seven goals for eight points) and Brenden Fields (one goal, seven points). In net, goaltender Calvin Vachon picked up two wins, including Sunday’s finale, and Micah Kawai the other.
At the A, BB and B levels, four Jr. Kings teams - 14U A and B and Squirt A1 and B - advanced through the quarterfinal round of the Southern California Amateur Hockey Association (SCAHA) playoffs in their respective divisions to punch their tickets to next weekend’s semifinal round, which will be played on March 14 at various Southern California rinks.
Semifinal winners will compete for SCAHA championships in their division the next day (March 15) at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo.
Under the direction of head coach Tony Rudy, the Jr. Kings’ 14U A club finished with a 2-1 record (six points) in its quarters, which was contested at Ice Station Valencia, while the 14U B squad (pictured), coached by Chet Carlbom, also went 2-1 (six) at The Rinks-Lakewood ICE.
With Chris Benoit behind the bench, the 10U A1 team forged a 2-1 (six points) mark in its division at Anaheim’s KHS Ice Arena and the Squirt B club, coached by Carlbom, also finished 2-1 in the Flight II division at Ice-Plex Escondido.
At the Tier II level, the Jr. Kings’ 18U AA team, led by head coach Sean Hoang, 16U AA1 squad, led by Ray Macias, and 12U AA1 team, led by head coach Jeff Bain, will all compete in next weekend’s CAHA State Championships, which will be played from March 13-15 in Escondido.
Four Jr. Kings and LA Lions teams saw their seasons come to an end in the SCAHA quarterfinal playoff round: 12U A2, Lions 12U AA2 (playing 12U B), 10U A2 and Lions 10U B (playing Flight II).