The Juneau Capitals Under-12 team swept their state tournament in Anchorage on March 2, defeating all comers.
“We set out to prove we’re the best team in the state, and they proved it,” said Coach T.J. Jones in a phone interview. “Not just proved it, but kind of drove it home.”
A tightly knit and highly trained squad made all the difference as Juneau tore through teams from around the state, Jones said.
“The entire age group is really strong. This is, hands down, the best team I’ve been around,” Jones said. “They mesh well, and they’re extremely skilled and quite fun to be around.”
The Capitals smashed through six games, winning the tournament by defeating Homer 7-1 on Monday morning. Jones credited a team that gelled together confidently and competently with the victory.
“We knew we were good right off the bat in October. A lot of these kids started in intro, which can be as young as 4 years old,” Jones said. “I’ve coached a lot of this group’s older siblings who are now in high school or graduated. We know the depth and strength of our program.”
The players practiced four times a week or more over the season, including every-other-week 6:45 a.m. Sunday practices. The Capitals have won another tournament outright and gotten second place in one more so far this season.
“You look at this group, and before every faceoff, they’re talking to each other,” Jones said. “It’s cool to see how intense they all are.”
Jones praised the players for their commitment to coming to extra practices, and how smoothly they worked with each other to operate as a single body.
“These kids, they’re all really smart. Some years, the kids are locked in and can’t get enough,” Jones said. “They’re all set up to get out and turn the high school hockey around.”
The season is over for the Capital’s A-team. Their B-team will compete in Anchorage in two weeks in their state tournament, Jones said. Many of the kids who made the U-12 team such a powerhouse this year will move up to the next division next year. But for this year, they’re champions.
“It’s a huge trophy. The trophy goes up in Treadwell,” Jones said referring to Juneau’s ice arena. “The kids go to the rink for free skate and they get to show it off to their friends.”
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757.621.1197 or email@example.com.