Bantam AA1 squad shows well at Bauer Invitational

It might not have brought home a championship banner from this year’s Bauer World Hockey Invitational, but it did forge the best finish of any California team to participate.

The Los Angeles Jr. Kings’ Bantam AA1 team skated to a semifinals appearance in the 01 Nexus division at the showcase, which was contested in the Chicago area earlier this month, putting together a hard-fought 3-3 record along the way.

“The boys grew in moments of adversity, both individually and collectively as a unit, during the weekend,” said Jr. Kings head coach Robbert McDonald. “This has always been a difficult tournament - not only because of the strong competition you face, but also because the deeper you go, the more games you play on short rest.”

The Jr. Kings opened the tournament against a buzz saw in the Minneapolis Storm and lost the contest, 7-1. They rebounded in their next game with a 5-0 triumph over North Carolina’s East Coast Eagles, and then fell to the Grand Rapids Griffins, 4-0.

In their Sweet 16 game, the Jr. Kings proved victorious over Michigan’s Rochester Rattlers, 2-1, after surviving 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 overtimes and a five-man shootout.

The quarterfinals yielded a 2-1 triumph over the Chicago Bruins. L.A. then met up again with Minneapolis in the semifinals where they put forth a much better effort in a 3-2 loss.

Forwards Luc Manley, Grant Sikich, Matty Ramos and Ian Sculteure, along with defensemen Jatan Desai and Gabe Shipper, came up big all weekend long for L.A., according to McDonald.

Goaltender Ian Uyeda delivered a strong performance between the pipes, too, leading the Jr. Kings to all three of their victories, including the dramatic Sweet 16 shootout win.

“I’m proud of our boys for their showing, especially in our rematch against Minnesota, which deservedly won the tourney,” said McDonald.

The Jr. Kings are undefeated through four games in California Amateur Hockey Association play, and will head to Denver over Thanksgiving Weekend for the OneHockey Rocky Mountain Rumble and then to Hershey, Pa., for a SuperSeries event over Presidents’ Day Weekend.

It opened the season with a convincing championship performance in the Bantam AA division of the Jr. Kings-hosted Tinseltown Labor Day Festival.

“We’re constantly improving, but there’s still a long ways to go and a lot of work to be done,” said McDonald. “But we have a promising group, no question.”