18U, 16U win AAA state titles

Two Los Angeles Jr. Kings teams - the 18U AAA and 16U AAA Major squads - celebrated California Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) state championships after victories today at The Rinks-Lakewood Ice.

In the 14U bracket, the Jr. Kings’ Bantam Major team advanced to the championship game in its bracket, which will be contested on Sunday.

The Jack Bowkus-led 18U AAA team, which started the tournament with a 2-0 record on Friday, took home the championship in its division after a 9-1 thrashing of the Ontario Avalanche on Saturday.

“This is a hard-working, good group that wants to learn," Bowkus said.  "They’re dedicated. We have some guys who have jobs and they come in to work out on their off time. Other players see that.”

The Louis Pacella-coached 16U AAA Major team, which also began the tournament with a pair of victories on Friday, staked claim to the state title in its bracket on Saturday with a 3-1 triumph over the California Titans.

"This is a great first step towards our goal of a USA Hockey national championship," said Pacella. "Everyone contributed over the weekend with solid play at both ends of the rink."

With a 1-1 record entering Saturday, the Jr. Kings’ Bantam Major team, coached by Shawn Pitcher, advanced to the championship game after a 5-4 overtime win over the Anaheim Jr. Ducks.

In the title tilt, Jr. Kings will face off against the Jr. Ducks again on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

In the Pee Wee division, the Jr. Kings entered the day with a 1-1 mark before being eliminated by the Jr. Ducks on Saturday after a 2-1 double-overtime defeat.

The winners of the 18U, 16U and 14U divisions, as well as the runners-up in 18U and 16U, will advance to the Pacific District Regional Championship Tournament, which will be contested from March 6-9 at Sharks Ice-San Jose.

The top four teams in each division in CAHA regular-season play qualify for state playoffs (in the Bantam AAA division, the Jr. Sharks, who finished third in the regular season, earn an automatic bye to regionals as hosts), which for the second year in a row is using a double-elimination format.

For more information on the Tier I state playoffs, including the complete schedule, visit CAHA.com.