The final stanza of eight high school hockey teams’ seasons will be written over the next three days.
The Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears (8-10) and seven other teams congregate today at the Curtis Menard Sports Complex in Wasilla for the opening round of the 2017 Alaska School Activities Association 4A hockey championships.
JDHS faces Cook Inlet Conference champion Chugiak in the second game of the day at 2:30 p.m. Fans can watch today’s match, through a link provided at www.asaa.org/activities/hockey.
It’s the second consecutive state tournament berth for Juneau-Douglas, but still anything but routine for the Juneau squad.
“It’s really cool, the state tournament, the experience of going up there is super fun,” said sophomore forward Billy Bosse. “All these really good teams are playing and you get to watch all them.”
Good teams is right. The tournament features 2011, 2014 state champion South Anchorage, and 2012, 2013 state champion Dimond.
JDHS’ first-round opponent isn’t too bad either. The Chugiak Mustangs averaged six goals per game during the regular season defeated Eagle River last weekend to win the Cook Inlet Conference. The Crimson Bears lost to Chugiak 8-1 during their lone Anchorage roadtrip in mid-January. Despite the beating, JDHS hockey assistant coach Matt Boline says the team has continued to hone its game.
”We talk to them like this season being a semester in school. You start off at the beginning of the year, you get all your assignments, and you’re really working up to that final at the end and that’s what were doing now,” said Boline. “So now it’s just, we’re giving them fewer words and higher expectations.”
For sophomore Cameron Smith, it was Chugiak’s physical defense he remembers the most from regular season play.
“All their players are just really big and they are good at hitting. I think that’s what really slowed up down,” Smith said. “Once they just keep hitting us, and hitting us, it took the energy out of us, and they kept scoring goals.”
Despite all that, the Crimson Bears have higher expectations this season than last for the state tournament.
“Well, the state tournament last year, we knew we were going to get beat up and kind of tossed around so we were looking more for that experience and having fun,” Smith said. “I think this year we’re trying to really compete with the other teams and … find a better spot than just last [place.]”
The JDHS hockey state championships roster:
Forwards: Quin Gist, Logan Ginter, Jacob Dale, Owen Squires, Joseph Monsef, Blake Bixby, Billy Bosse, Ryan Liebelt, Cameron Jardell, Gavin Murphy
Defensemen: Niko Hebert, Cahal Morehouse, Ronan Lynch, Jaime Moreno
Goalies: Cody Mitchell, Wolf Dostal, Kyle Farley-Robinson
Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org