The Orange Lutheran hockey team entered the California Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) tournament at Anaheim Ice as back-to-back-to-back state champions and wanted to add another banner to the collection.
The CAHA tournament is a round-robin style event over three days, and to advance to the title game, you have to finish in the top 2 of the standings out of a four-team pool. Each team will play the other once before Sunday's championship game.
Game 1 vs. Santa Margarita
The Lancers opened the tournament on Friday morning against Santa Margarita, a battle of Southern California's two most decorated hockey programs.
After a scoreless tie through 2 periods, senior Ethan Kuehn broke the deadlock as he glided into the right side of the zone and beat the Eagles goalie with a shot off the left post and into the net just over five and a half minutes into the 3rd period. Senior Carson Ferry assisted Kuehn. They added the insurance goal on an empty netter by senior Brady Craik to win game 1 2-0.
Senior Caleb Martinez was dominant in the net, saving all 36 shots faced for the shutout.
Game 2 vs. Fairmont Prep
In the nightcap on Friday evening, OLu met Fairmont Prep looking to start 2-0 in the tournament.
They didn't waste any time jumping all over Huskies, scoring three goals in the first 12 minutes of the game. Sophomore Aiden Zakaria, Chaik, and junior Matthew Mendez each had a goal in the first. Up 3-0 after one period, junior Aerick Bacon tacked on one more in the 2nd period, which was more than enough to defeat Fairmont 4-1. Junior Lucas Ananias had two assists.
Junior goalie Micah Kawai got the call in the net and stopped 23 of Huskies 24 shots.
Game 3 vs. Tahoe Prep
On Saturday morning, the Lancers played Tahoe Prep, the same team they defeated in last year's title game, and won 5-4.
Down 2-0 early, seniors Kyle Lee and Ferry notched a goal a piece to tie the score at two after one. In the second, Zakaria and Bacon each scored their second goal of the weekend to give the Lancers a 4-3 lead to the final frame. Lee got the game-winner 3 minutes and 7 seconds into the final stanza, his second of the game to finish off Tahoe Prep.
Kawai recovered after giving up the two early goals, saving 24 shots on 28 attempts.
OLu went 3-0 in round-robin play to advance to the CAHA State Title game on Sunday morning against Santa Margarita.
State Championship Game vs. Santa Margarita
It was a rematch of the Friday morning opener when the Eagles and Lancers met in the championship game on Sunday morning.
It started very similarly, with a scoreless first period, but that only lasted 4 minutes into 2nd, when JJ Dean converted on a one-timer off of tic-tac-toe passing that started with Ananias, who fed Ferry, and he found Dean at the side of the net for the score.
With 2 minutes left in the 2nd period, Logan Baum extended the lead to 2-0 after taking a pass that hit the boards and fired it through the Eagle goaltender. Ferry was credited with the assist.
That was all the Lancers needed as Martinez blanked the Eagles for the 2nd time in 48 hours, and the Lancers went on to win 2-0.
The Lancers are 4-peat champions of the CAHA State Tournament; the win is the program's 6th.
Next, up for OLu is the USA High School Hockey National Tournament held in Plymouth, Minnesota, from March 23-27.
Stay updated on the Lancers journey to Nationals on Instagram or at oluathletics.org.