The Alaska Junior Aces U-18 team booked their berth in next month's USA Hockey Tier I national championships when they beat the Los Angeles Junior Kings, 3-1, in the Pacific District final Sunday at the Subway Sports Centre.
Though outshot 30-16, the Aces leaned on goaltender Owen Carlson, who stopped 29 shots.
Andrew Cummings and Kenny Hausinger staked the Aces to a 2-0 first-period lead, with Hausinger's strike coming just 11 seconds before intermission.
The Kings trimmed their deficit to 2-1 five minutes into the second period, when Thomas Plese bagged his fifth goal in four tournament games.
But Alaska's Lane Bauer restored the Aces' two-goal lead at 3-1 with a power-play strike five minutes into the third period. That marked Bauer's seventh goal in four games.
The Aces earned a spot in the national tournament in Pittsburgh. Tier I is the highest level of American youth hockey.
Two other teams also qualified for Tier I nationals with victories Sunday at the Subway.
The Anaheim (Calif.) Junior Ducks took the Pacific U-14 title by upsetting the Los Angeles Junior Kings, who were unbeaten in four previous tournament games, 4-3, in triple overtime.
Anaheim's Brady Newton delivered the dagger to complete his hat trick and goalie Garrett Nieto shined with 53 saves.
The Ducks never led until Newton forged the winning goal. Anaheim also received a game-tying goal from Keelan Ulnick with just 1:39 left in regulation.
Los Angeles got goals from Sean Cullihane, Kailer Yamamoto and Chase Sriprijittichai.
In the U-16 final, the Los Angeles Junior Kings used 28 saves from Evan Sarthou and goals from four different skaters to bag a 4-1 win over the Alaska Junior Aces.
Nick Rivera, Evan Weinger, Nick Klishko and Alex Mehr scored for the Kings.
The game was deadlocked 1-1 late in the second period -- Rivera scored in the game's opening minute and the Aces' Tristan Phillips countered less than four minutes later -- when Weinger struck for the go-ahead goal.
Aces goalie Kris Oldham made 26 saves.
Anchorage Daily News