The Juneau-Douglas High School hockey team scored three power-play goals to down Soldotna 3-1 in the Division II state hockey championships third-place game in Wasilla on Saturday.
Senior Bill Bosse set up the game-winning power-play goal before getting the board himself in a bounce-back game for the senior-laden squad.
“We all obviously wanted to make it into the championships, but making third is still a huge accomplishment for us,” Bosse said. “We’re all happy about it.”
SoHi and JDHS, the No. 1 and No. 2 respective seeds out of the Railbelt Conference, both lost Friday semifinals to set up their third meeting of the season. Soldotna had won the prior two games in Soldotna.
“It definitely was a memorable way to end the season and that group’s career,” JDHS coach Luke Adams said. “Third place at state is something we’ve never done, and it just pushes the bar higher, which is something that we take responsibility with every year we coach and every year the players play — kind of leave the place better than we found it.”
Junior Ethan Welch scored the first goal at the 2:33 mark of the second period after Soldotna was whistled for back-to-back penalties. The second one at the 2:02 mark gave the Crimson Bears a 5-on-3 power play. JDHS had not scored in four and a half periods at that point, having been shut out in its 3-0 semifinal loss to Homer.
“We got into some penalty trouble early on, basically we were losing a little part of our discipline,” Adams said. “But after the first period, we recouped; the kids regained focus. We had a lot of good leadership in the locker room and from that point on we kind of took control and never looked back. It was a great win.”
About a minute later, still on the power play, Welch barely got his stick blade on a puck that was headed out of the Stars’ zone. He passed to Bosse, who found fellow senior Finn Yerkes all alone in front of the net for the second goal.
Galen Brantley III cut the Stars’ deficit in half in the third period, but Bosse answered with another big play. The senior rocketed the puck past goaltender Corbin Wirz’s shoulder for a 3-1 lead that would stand until the final buzzer.
“I had the puck on the 5 on 3 and they just gave me so much space to skate in, and the goalie was cheating on the short side,” Bosse said. “So I just put it right over his shoulder and in the net.”
Bosse and junior Cody Mitchell (40 saves) were both named to the all-tournament team. Bosse led the team in points (goals and assists) and Mitchell was the starter in all but four games. It was Mitchell’s first time receiving the honor.
“This season he really took an aspect of work harder in practice and stay more focused, which I think paid dividends,” Adams said. “He’s also a great puck handler, which in this tournament was noticed by not only his own team but other teams as well. It’s a skill that a lot of goalies his age don’t have.”
Mitchell, Bosse and Welch were first-team all conference selections. Seniors Cameron Smith and Dalton Hoy made it on the second team.
“We have a really nice, close team, and it’s made the season great,” said Hoy, who scored five of team’s eight goals in Thursday’s quarterfinal win over Tri Valley. “I know other years there’s always been players with conflicting issues with each other. But this year the team gets along great and it makes it so much more fun.”
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or email@example.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.