Limiting sports has been one of the most visible mitigation measures during the pandemic, but for some, their season was entirely curtailed.
“We had an interesting season,” said Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé hockey coach Luke Adams in a phone interview. “We didn’t get to play any games all season much like the football team didn’t. Our regional opponents are all in Kenai and the Mat-Su Valley, and we didn’t have a chance to play any regional competition.”
The 33-player coed team, which would ordinarily travel to other boroughs for its matches, was precluded from doing so by high and ongoing transmission rates in Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. While the Crimson Bears were ready, Adams said, their day didn’t come this year.
“We were preparing for an opportunity if it came about,” Adams said. “We were hoping things would be better by the state tournament, which happened on Feb. 20, but Mat-Su was still in the red.”
The season, which began on Jan. 4, ended on Feb. 20, Adams said, a season of about seven weeks. Fortunately, Adams said, many of the players will play with the youth hockey leagues.
“It was an abbreviated season for sure. Our kids with the high school program work really closely with the youth association,” Adams said. “After the season, they’re able to go ahead with our youth program. It’s awesome to have a hockey program that supports these kids; it’s a good organization.”
“It was awesome to be a part of that. To see the kids, they were content playing the game with their teammates and being ready for an opportunity to arise if it arose,” Adams said. “It didn’t mean it didn’t sting. But at the same time, the kids and coaches were prepared for that. We kept on training even though it wasn’t on the table anymore. We defined our own success. The goal was to get better every day, and when the kids bought into that, it was remarkable to see how they grew into each other and how they improved together.”
The team’s three seniors took the gameless final season in stride, Adams said.
“With the seniors, even though they really wanted to play games this year, the big picture is make our program better and the three seniors did that,” Adams said. “This was a tough year but these kids were resilient. They did themselves and their families proud.”
Editor’s note: These comments were submitted by coach Luke Adams.
Taylor Bentley (No. 3 — Defense – Captain)
Taylor has played hockey since she was 5 years old.
Nickname: ‘Cupcake’ when she was young, but now it is ‘TayTay’
Favorite hockey memory: The trip to Kenai her sophomore year and staying in the Challenger Center with the whole team
What she will miss most from JDHS Hockey: Seeing her coaches and teammates every day, and locker room gossip with the girls.
After high school: Taylor plans on attending UAS and majoring in Elementary Education
“Playing hockey has taught me many things and has shaped me into the person that I am today. Always remember that it matters more to be a good person than to be a good hockey player.”
Taylor’s contribution to JDHS Hockey cannot be overstated. It has been a joy to watch her earn the respect of her coaches, teammates, and opponents day in and out during her career. As a captain, her lead by example mentality was on display each day, never afraid to say what needed to be said, never backing down to a challenge, and being a relentless competitor. Her never quit attitude is what has always fueled her. We hope that future HS players can follow learn from her love for the game and her teammates. We will miss Taylor’s leadership, competitive spirit, smile….and definitely her laugh.
Dawson Hickok (No. 31 — Goalie)
Dawson has been playing hockey for 13 years.
Favorite hockey memory: Going to state his freshman year
What he will miss most from JDHS Hockey: The trips
After high school: After high school, Dawson plans on Going to Arizona to a trade school for welding and playing competitive club hockey.
“Playing hockey has taught me many things and has shaped me into the person I am today.”
Coach’s comments: Dawson’s contribution to the JDHS Hockey over his 4 years was his pure athleticism, competitive drive, and will to win. He has brought a spirit to the program that not many others have ever been able to do as a competitor and one of will be remembered for his athletic ability and has an uncanny ability to ‘chirp’ with the finest grace, humor, and ease keeping his teammates entertained and competitors at bay.
Even this year as a senior, Dawson openly welcomed and worked with our incoming Freshman goalies whenever the opportunity provided. He has elevated the standard of what a team player is by his actions and sacrifice over his JD hockey career.
Zac Stagg (No. 1 — Forward)
Zac has played hockey for 8 years. Nickname: Staggy or Shaggy
Favorite hockey memory: Winning Pee-Wee state in 2015 with many of his current JDHS teammates.
What he will miss most from JDHS Hockey: The Trips, traveling, hotels with the team.
After high school: Zac plans on attending college to study engineering.
“Playing hockey has taught me to always keep your head up, both mentally and physically”.
Coach’s comments: Zac’s contribution to JDHS Hockey has been an example of how hard work and determination pay off if you stick to it. He has become a leader with a no-quit attitude and never making excuses. Zac will always be remembered as the guy who never gave up on his opportunity and became a prime example for so many players to look up to. His work ethic and humor are contagious. His fun-loving attitude, desire to always get better, and locker room antics will be sincerely missed
18U wins a title
Juneau’s youth teams cleaned up in recent club tournaments in Tok on the weekend of March 12, with the 14U and 18U teams winning state titles for their divisions. The 18U team won four consecutive games to secure its title.
“This team kept the positive work ethic, a leave it out there one shift at a time and, all while not straying from the fun aspect of the game,” said 18U coach Mike Bovitz in an email. “This spelled success.”
The Capitals’ first game of the tournament ended in a 1-1 tie with Homer. Juneau next defeated Healy, 3-0, on a pair of goals by Fin Shibler and one by Jack Cisney. The boys best Kenai by a 2-1 score. The Capitals were powered by goals from Andre Peirovi and Joey Meier.
The Capitals won the championship game in a rematch of the opener, but this time, Juneau bested Homer, 2-1, on a pair of goals by Peirovi.
“The resilience and maturity the team showed throughout the state tournament was a testament to how players buying into having fun while trusting your teammates,” Bovitz said. “The stellar goaltending, small disciplines and hard work throughout the entire team is what produced a championship.”
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.