The Anaheim Jr. Ducks Bantam AA-1 team encountered few roadblocks this season … until they reached the CAHA Tier II State Championships at Simi Valley.
There the Jr. Ducks, who had rolled through regular-season CAHA play and won both games at playdowns, had to overcome a second-game loss and win three elimination games in order to reach the USA Hockey Youth Nationals.
“The team hadn’t faced a lot of adversity,” coach Todd Marchant said. [Marchant, of course, was a member of the 2007 Cup-winning Ducks team.] “At state is not a good time to experience it for the first time, but that’s where the structure, the attention to details and the playing for one another made a difference.”
The Bantams rebounded from a 3-2 loss to the California Wave on Saturday morning to shutout the Wildcats that night, and then the Jr. Ducks defeated the Wave twice on Sunday, 3-2 and 7-1, to clinch a Nationals berth. The national tournament will be held in Charlotte, N.C., from March 31 to April 4.
“This is the first big championship they’d won,” Marchant said. “The group had not won a SCAHA title and lost in the state final two years ago.
“I’m extremely proud of this group. They worked extremely hard and they are a true team in that they really care about each other. Even on days we don’t have team activities they get together and enjoy hanging out together.
“That’s a big contributor to their success.”
The Bantams went 21-1 in CAHA regular-season games, outscoring opponents 98-27 in the process, and then won their playdown games to reach state.
Getting that far was a two-year process, their coach said.
“Last year, they played Bantam AA as first-year players. They were competitive but didn’t win a lot of games,” Marchant said. “This year, they reaped the benefits.”
The team didn’t depend on one player or line, rather it received contributions from up and down the lineup all season, Marchant added.
“All 12 forwards, all six defensemen and both goalies played huge parts in the team’s success,” he said. “Some games our forwards stepped up, other games our goalie, or the penalty killers or the power play. We never relied on one player or one group.”
Team members include: Wyatt Allan, Kyle Baker, Michael Baseggio, Brendan Carley, Nolan Conrad, Bryson Fletcher, Morgan Frey, Parker James, Garrett Kennedy, Tyler Kurth, Nathan Lane, Zachary Lane, Timothy Marchant, Aiden McDonald, Connor McMahan, Kyle Melchior, John Mulvihill, Aidan Petrie, Shane Swanson and Alex Villa.
-- Chris Bayee