SAN JOSE, CA - The San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) Jr. Sharks program is sending four separate teams to the 2019 USA Hockey Nationals. The Girls 19uAAA, 18uAA Boys, 15uAAA Boys and 14uAAA Girls are all competing for the Championship in their respective tier, the first time in the Jr. Sharks program's history that it has seen four teams make the tournament.
In Tier I play, the Girls 19uAAA won its third consecutive Pacific District Championship over the Anchorage North Stars in Anchorage, AK. In a three-game series, the squad dropped the first decision before emerging victorious in the final two games, 4-1 and 4-3. The USA Hockey Nationals for the Girls Tier I will take place in Irvine, CA from Apr. 4-8. The Girls 14UAAA will also be competing in Irvine, as they will represent the Pacific District with an automatic bid into the National Tournament.
The 15uAAA Boys will compete in Plymouth, MI at USA Hockey Arena from Apr. 3-8, after defeating the Los Angeles Junior Kings in two consecutive games on Mar. 10-11 by a score of 3-1 and 4-2 to capture the 15AAA Pacific District Championship. Official tournament schedules have not been released yet.
The 18uAA Boys will host the 2019 USA Nationals for the Youth Tier II Championships in San Jose from Apr. 4-8. Two rinks will host the tournament in the Bay Area; Solar4America Ice at Fremont and Solar4America Ice at San Jose, the official practice facility of the San Jose Sharks.
Established in 2000, the Jr. Sharks program boasts 28 teams comprised of boys and girls hockey. The program boasts two previous USA Hockey National Championships; 2017 Girls 19uAA and the 2011 Girls 12uAA.
NHL players who have come through the Jr. Sharks program and its predecessor program include Alec Martinez (Los Angeles Kings), Brett Sutter (Calgary Flames/Carolina Hurricanes/Minnesota Wild), Casey Wellman (Minnesota Wild/Washington Capitals), Matt Tennyson (San Jose Sharks/Carolina Hurricanes/Buffalo Sabres), Viktor Tihkonov (Arizona Coyotes/Chicago Blackhawks), Stefan Matteau (New Jersey Devils/Montreal Canadiens/Vegas Golden Knights).
The USA Hockey Nationals is an annual tournament dating back to 1938, where youth hockey teams across the country compete for the ultimate prize, the USA Hockey national championship. Thousands of players have taken the ice under USA Hockey to compete, some going on to play in the National Hockey League. Some of the notable players to appear in the USA Hockey Nationals are current Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, Jeremy Roenick, Kendall Coyne-Schofield, Julie Chu and Hilary Knight.