There isn’t any question the entire Los Angeles Jr. Kings organization hit one of its highest notes during the 2017-18 campaign, and it can’t wait to ride that winning wave into the new season.
“Both on the ice and administratively, it was without a doubt a year everyone within our club should be proud of,” said Jr. Kings general manager of hockey operations Nick Vachon. “We accomplished so much on so many levels.”
The signature highlight came during the California Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) Tier I State Championships when all seven Jr. Kings teams celebrated titles. With the sweep, the program staked claim to the unprecedented feat of winning every age division at the event in a single season.
The Jr. Kings’ Bantam Major team parlayed its state championship into a Pacific District title to earn a berth to the USA Hockey Tier I National Championships, while the club’s Squirt BB1 team took home a CAHA state title.
The program’s accolades continued into the offseason when a number of current and former Jr. Kings were selected in elite junior league drafts, along with being invited to prestigious USA Hockey select camps and tournaments.
And, in addition to witnessing a handful of alumni make their NHL debuts and commit to NCAA Division I schools over the course of the season - and one, Cayla Barnes, win an Olympic gold medal - former Jr. King and Yale University recruit Jack St. Ivany was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in June’s NHL Entry Draft.
“To see so many of our teams have success and then so many of our players and former players recognized is rewarding to say the least, and deserving because of all the hard work they’ve put in over the last few years, along with the commitment and support of their families,” said Vachon. “I’m nothing but confident this coming season will yield more of the same.”
The 2018-19 campaign unofficially got underway over the spring with three spirited tryout weekends that yielded 25 teams: seven at the Tier I (AAA) level; five at Tier II (AA); and 13 at the A/BB/B levels.
At Tier I, Barry Dreger will once again lead the program’s 18U team, while Jeff Turcotte (pictured) will serve as head coach of the 16U squad. Jaro Modry, an assistant coach with the American Hockey League’s Ontario Reign - the Los Angeles Kings’ top affiliate - will guide the Jr. Kings’ 15U AAA team.
Shawn Pitcher will lead the organization’s Bantam Major (2004) team, and Jack Bowkus will have the reins of the Bantam Minor (2005) club. Brett Beebe will guide the Jr. Kings’ Pee Wee Major (2006) squad, and Turcotte will lead the Pee Wee Minor (2007) team.
At Tier II, former Jr. King Ray Macias, who played a handful of games with the Colorado Avalanche, will serve as head coach of the club’s Midget 16U AA team, while Erik Lektorp will guide the program’s Bantam AA1 squad. Kyle Calder, who played eight-plus seasons in the NHL, including two with the Kings, will lead the Jr. Kings’ Bantam AA2 squad, and Maik Tatavosian has the reins of the Pee Wee AA1 team. Pitcher will guide the Pee Wee AA2 contingent.
The Jr. Kings’ A, BB and B coaches include: Tony Rudy (Bantam A); Jeff Bain (Pee Wee A1 and Mite B2); Sam Graham (Pee Wee A2); Chet Carlbom (Pee Wee BB); Ryan Santana (Pee Wee B); Dimitri Voulelikas (Squirt A1); former Kings goaltender Jamie Storr (Squirt A2); Shane McColgan (Squirt BB1); Joe Consolazio (Squirt BB2); Beebe (Mite A1); Stephane Desjardins (Mite A2); and Derek Johnston (Mite B1).
“In my opinion, these guys separate our club from any other,” said Vachon. “They have so much experience and a passion for both hockey and teaching and, most importantly, do things the right way, both on and off the ice.”
And with a new hockey season already on the horizon, Vachon is also quick to credit the Kings and El Segundo’s Toyota Sports Center - the Jr. Kings’ home base and practice facility of the NHL club - for their continued support.
“It’s huge and another reason we’re able to take our club to new levels year after year,” said Vachon. “What they do to help enhance our players’ and families’ Jr. Kings experience is second to none.”