Three players who spent many of their formative years playing youth hockey for the Anaheim Jr. Ducks are among the 46 players that USA Hockey has selected for its National Team Development Program Evaluation Camp for 2001 birth years.
Current Jr. Ducks Midget 16U AAA player Ryan Johnson and former Jr. Ducks Nicholas Kent and Cam York will participate in the camp, which will help select the 2017-18 U.S. National Under-17 team. The camp will take place March 24-28 at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich.
All three players are defensemen, and all three began playing together as Mites under coach Craig Johnson, who is now the Jr. Ducks' director of coaches and co-coach of the club's 16U AAA team with Alex Kim. York played eight seasons for the Jr. Ducks, while Ryan Johnson, Craig's son, has played seven years for the club. Kent played five seasons for Johnson, including for the Jr. Ducks.
"To have three kids who grew up playing hockey together at the Jr Ducks reach this camp is pretty special," Craig Johnson said. "All three have worked very hard to develop and deserve this opportunity."
Ryan Johnson is a key member of a Jr. Ducks team that recently qualified for the USA Hockey Youth Nationals in Pittsburgh on April 6-10. A left shot, he had 24 points in 32 Tier 1 Elite Hockey League games and seven more points in 11 CAHA games.
The right-shooting Kent played for Delta Academy's Elite 15s and Prep teams this season in British Columbia. A Quinnipiac University commit, Kent has 25 points in 33 games.
York, a left shot, was one of the youngest members on Shattuck St. Mary's Midget Prep team this season. A Boston College commit, York has 41 points in 48 games for a team that also has qualified for Nationals.
"Craig and (assistant coach) Scott (Niedermayer) have had a tremendous impact on the players they have coached," said Kim, who also serves as the Jr. Ducks' director of player personnel. "The players have or had an opportunity to learn in one of the best possible environments. The end result is that there are three former players going this year to the NTDP evaluation camp."
In addition, all three attended USA Hockey's Select-15 camp in 2016 and the Western Region High Performance camp in 2015.
The Jr. Ducks tied Chicago Mission and Dallas Stars for second-most selections for the NTDP evaluation camp. Only Shattuck, with five, had more.
"It's great for the program that all three from California were with the Jr. Ducks at one time," Johnson said.
Last season, 2000 birth year Slava Demin, then a member of the Jr. Ducks' 16U AAA team was selected to the camp. The Jr. Ducks also have had a 1998 birth year (Justin Dixson) and a 1999 (Rory Herrman) spend time playing for the USNTDP's U17 team in the past three years.
Demin, who is playing junior hockey for Wenatchee of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), committed to the University of Denver this season. Herrman, who is playing for Green Bay of the United States Hockey League, committed to Arizona State. And Dixson, who is playing for Chilliwack in the BCHL, committed to UMass-Amherst.