Pacific District Champions Earn Automatic Bids To National Tournament
March Madness started a week early on the west coast.
USA Hockey’s Pacific District held its 2022 Tier 1 championships Feb. 24-27, crowning the teams that will represent the region at the upcoming national tournament.
The Pacific District, made up of Alaska, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, gathered its top teams in Irvine, Calif., for an impressive weekend of hockey action.
The California Golden Bears captured the 14U crown, while the Los Angeles Jr. Kings won the 15O division. The Anaheim Jr. Ducks won the 16U and 18U divisions — the latter of which needed a shootout in the title game to decide a winner.
Those teams lock in their spots for the 2022 USA Hockey National Championships, earning automatic bids from the Pacific Division. They join the following teams that have already earned their respective bids:
- Shattuck St. Mary’s 14U (Minnesota)
- Shattuck St. Mary’s 15O (Minnesota)
- Minuteman Flames 15O (Massachusetts)
- Shattuck St. Mary’s 16U (Minnesota)
- Boston Jr. Eagles 16U (Massachusetts)
The Pacific District was the third region to conclude its playoffs. The other nine USA Hockey districts will be hosting their state/district championships over the coming weeks. Each of the national playoff fields will be filled out with a select number of at-large bids, as well.
The 14U Golden Bears impressed as they stormed through the district playoffs to win a region title and a ticket to Chicago for nationals. After starting the tournament off with a 5-4 loss to Team Alaska, they rattled off four straight wins to erase the blunder. A quick turnaround was necessary, as they had the No. 10-ranked L.A. Jr. Kings next on the schedule; the Bears pulled off the upset 6-4.
Momentum led the way from there, as the ‘07 Bears posted a 13-0 win over the Sno-King Jr. Thunderbirds and a 7-2 win over the Anaheim Jr. Ducks to line up a rematch with Team Alaska in the final. There, the Bears got their revenge, topping Alaska 4-2.
In the 15O age group, it was the L.A. Jr Kings getting the job done. Like the Golden Bears above, they had one stumble against Team Alaska, but they were able to rebound when it mattered most.
The Kings started with a 2-0 win over the Anaheim Jr. Ducks, followed by a 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ice Dogs. On Saturday, the ’06 Kings dropped a 4-0 game to Team Alaska, but the two teams squared off again on Championship Sunday, and there, it was the Kings winning the game that mattered most. A 2-1 nail biter went the way of L.A., and they’re now packing for USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich., for the 15O national playoffs.
At 16U, the Jr. Ducks rolled through tournament play, with the championship game being the only one that presented any type of stress on the team. The ’05 Ducks started with a bang, beating the San Jose Jr. Sharks 10-1. They did even better the next day, shutting out the Sno-King Jr. Thunderbirds 10-0. From there, they posted Saturday wins of 7-1 and 11-1 over the Vegas Jr. Golden Knights and San Jose Jr. Sharks, respectively.
In the final, Team Alaska gave ‘em a run for their money, but the Ducks’ four goals were enough to overcome Alaska’s three. With the victory, the Ducks can start planning their trip to Metro Detroit for the 16U nationals.
The 18U Ducks ended up playing the Northwest Stars to a shootout on two different occasions on the weekend, and while the Stars won the first one, the Ducks won the one that sends them to Nationals. Along the way, the Ducks also picked up a 4-1 win over the California Wave and a 5-0 win over Team Alaska. Now, they’re off to Metro Detroit, as well, for the 18U national tournament.
World Hockey Hub will have continued coverage of USA Hockey Nationals and the remaining nine district championships leading up to the tournament. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the latest in who advances to the ‘big dance!’
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