Facing a team it had already lost to four times within two weeks, a Juneau Capitals 16-and-under A Division squad turned back its Anchorage rival, 3-1, to claim an Alaska State Hockey Association championship March 5-7 in Anchorage.
Representing the Juneau Douglas Ice Association, the Capitals had twice lost to the Anchorage Comets in the three-day tournament, but qualified for the title game by defeating Fairbanks twice in the round-robin play. The Capitals suffered two 4-1 losses before meeting the Comets again, this time for the title to close out the tournament.
Already missing two key defensemen to injuries, the Capitals withstood periods of relentless attacks and converted critical opportunities to hold off the Comets, returning home with a champions’ trophy.
Juneau received balanced scoring, including an unassisted, second-period, game-winner by defenseman Luke Bovitz. Caden Johns helped the Capitals to a first-period lead with assists from Gabe Hansen and Sonny Monsef, who later put the game out of reach with Juneau’s third goal with 6 minutes to play.
The victory ended a four-game skid against the Comets, who also twice defeated the Capitals at the February Presidents Day Invitational in Anchorage.
“This team adjusting, making corrections, and fighting through adversity throughout the entire tournament is everything you like to see as a coach,” said Mike Bovitz, who, along with Kevin Hansen, coached the team.
Three Juneau goalies Mason Sooter, Cookie Murphy and Caleb Friend collectively held opponents to 13 goals spanning five games. Murphy produced the team’s lone shutout in a 1-0 victory over Fairbanks. Sooter recorded 22 saves in the championship game.
The goalie trio received critical front line help from defensemen Bovitz, Hansen, Minta Schwartz and Dane Pederson.
“Going into tournament with three goalies is a unique situation,” Bovitz said. “The goalies were well prepared, played well, and did exactly what was needed to complete the task: Giving the team a chance to win State.
In a tightly contested tournament, Juneau produced 14 hard-fought goals. Leading the scoring were Monsef (two goals, six assists), Johns (five goals, two assists) and Bovitz (two goals, five assists).
The Capitals got additional production from Matthew Plang (two goals, one assist), Busby West (two goals) and Lake Bartlett (one goal, one assist), Other forwards contributing offensive support were: Xavier Meloncon and Marzena Whitmore.
“Watching this team having fun with the games while working hard, and then to have this success, that was an awesome experience for us all,” Bovitz said.
Anchorage 4, Juneau 1
Juneau 1, Fairbanks 0
Anchorage 4, Juneau 1
Juneau 8, Fairbanks 4
Juneau 3, Anchorage 1