Pacific District leftovers … the OC Hockey Club edition

OC Hockey Club’s Midget AAA teams left a strong impression on me this season, and I wasn’t the only one.

The hard-hitting 16U and 18U teams from Yorba Linda didn’t leave El Segundo with a Pacific District title, but as they had all season, they gave every one a tough game.

A quick review of both teams’ performance follows, and I want to give a strong nod to brothers Jim and Joe Burcar, who coach and assist each other with the two teams.

The 16s reached the semifinals after a 2-0-1 (OTL) record in round-robin play. They gave the Jr. Kings their toughest game (it was 3-2 at one point in the third period) and were a tough out. They came in having finished runner-up at the CAHA States.

As he was at State, defenseman Riley Hummitsch was the team’s leading scorer (6 points). A pair of forwards, Shane McMahan and Elijah Barriga, each chipped in five points. The goaltending combo of Jon Manlow and Kenneth Eakle was solid with both boasting save percentages north of .910.

They were in every game, regardless of outcome.

The 18s went 1-2 yet had a positive goal differential (6-5). They played what amounted to a semifinal in the round robin against the Jr. Kings and lost, 2-1, on two power-play goals.

Like the 16s, they play a physical style, which often results in a lot of penalties. I believe it’s important to draw the distinction between playing tough and playing dirty. I’ve watched this group at least a half dozen times this season, and I can say OCHC plays tough without crossing the line.

The CAHA State champs, the OC 18s were led at Districts by Lonnie Clary with three goals and defenseman Adam Plonski with three assists. Goalie Arthur Brey was stellar, finishing with a 1.67 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage.

One of the things that struck me about this team was how the core of it has played together for several years, and many of the players won a 16AA National title two years ago. Their improvement from then to 18AAA this season has been pronounced. That tells me this is a dedicated group of players, who work hard and receive excellent coaching and skill development instruction.

It should be noted that OCHC was the only California club that sent both Midget teams to the Prospects Hockey League playoffs.

While their seasons ended earlier than they’d have preferred, the boys at OCHC have nothing to be ashamed about their seasons.

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Midget Hockey galore

If you want to watch some outstanding Midget Major hockey this weekend, then Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo and East-West Ice Palace in Artesia are the places to go.

Ten of the top teams from the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League are converging in California for a 25-game showcase. In addition to the LA Jr. Kings and the LA Selects 18U AAA teams, several teams from Chicago, Wisconsin, Colorado and Arizona will participate.

Visit Calirubber.com for the complete schedule.

09-10 AAA hockey in California

(Updated on June 11)

Here is what we know thus far about programs playing Midget AAA hockey in California for the upcoming 2009-10 season – there likely will be eight  programs at the 16U level and six at the 18U:

The 18Us: California Stars, LA Selects, LA Jr. Kings (with CA Wave additions), OC Hockey Club, SoCal Titans and San Jose Jr. Sharks

The 16Us: California Heat, California Stars, LA Selects, LA Jr. Kings, OC Hockey Club, SoCal Titans, San Diego Gulls and San Jose Jr. Sharks

This is tentative, but it is what has been posted thus far. Can anyone remember a time when there were 14 Midget AAA teams in the state?

The first weekend in June was tryout time, so I expect these to become more concrete in the coming weeks.