Hultgren's effort helps Villa Park win Ducks League 2A title


ANAHEIM - From the opening period, Monday’s Ducks High School Hockey League Division 2A championship game looked like it was going to turn into an old-fashioned shootout as both teams notched three goals apiece.

But Villa Park goaltender Anders Hultgren turned in a performance for the ages, shutting out Capistrano United on 18 shots spanning the second and third periods to help the Spartans to the Division 2A title with a 5-3 win over the defending champion Coyotes.

Troy Yano pushed in the eventual game-winner 4:31 into the second period and Evan Camba added an insurance goal on the power play for the Spartans, who won despite being outshot 27-18.

“We definitely had to refocus,” Hultgren said about heading into the second period. “I had to be better on my angles and my defense gave me more support up front. Ultimately that’s what did it for us.”

Hultgren’s biggest save came early in the second period with the Coyotes on the power play and the score knotted at 3-3.

The Coyotes’ Jack Lippis sent a centering pass in the crease to Niko Grollman, but Hultgren stretched his glove across to block the tip-in try.

The two teams met twice in the regular season with the Coyotes outscoring Villa Park, 16-4.

Spartans coach Don Johnson said his team’s top priority was clogging the slot. Several Capo United shots were deflected, and Hultgren was there to clean up the rest.

“Last time we played, all of their goals were right in the slot, so we knew we had to get everyone back,” Spartans coach Don Johnson said. “That’s what they did. It was about who wanted to work harder on both sides and we came up with the win.”

Villa Park never trailed, taking a one-goal lead three times in the first period, only to watch the Coyotes respond.

The Spartans pushed the puck forward and used odd-man rushes to create opportunities. Andrew Hoyt, Taylor Urch and Nick Paulos each scored goals to put Villa Park ahead.

Niko Grollman responded with a feed from Mike Boutossov to put Capo United on the board. Max Kamper beat Hultgren twice with top shelf wrist shots, tying the score on each tally. But the Coyotes couldn’t capitalize on the power play, going 0-5. Villa Park finished 1-6.

“We had some great chances and we didn’t capitalize,” Coyotes coach Jean Labbe said. “I think we were trying to be a little too fancy with our plays and in a game like this that tend to be tight, you have to take advantage of the chances you’re given and I think that was the difference.”

Hultgren finished with 24 saves on 27 shots for the Spartans. Kyle Mayhew added two assists for Villa Park.

The Spartans denied Capistrano United a chance at back-to-back championships, while claiming their first in the program’s two-year stint in Division 2A.

“This being my senior year, there’s no greater feeling than winning a championship,” Hultgren said. “It was definitely a team effort, my defense had my back the entire game and that helped us pull through.”

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