Courtesy Photo / Douglas “Pap” Conlon
The Juneau Capitals won the 10 and Under A Division State Championship this past weekend in Kenai.

Courtesy Photo / Douglas “Pap” Conlon The Juneau Capitals won the 10 and Under A Division State Championship this past weekend in Kenai.

‘Total team effort’ earns Juneau team a 10-U state title

“All 10 of our athletes performed at their highest level this weekend…”

  • Douglas “Pap” Conlon For the Juneau Empire
  • Wednesday, March 22, 2023 9:20pm
  • Sports

The Juneau Capitals won the 10 and Under A Division State Championship this past weekend in Kenai.

“This was a total team effort, all 10 of our athletes performed at their highest level this weekend,” said coach Alec Venechuk, who is assisted by Mike Nelson and Heather Brandon.

The Capitals started the tournament with a strong performance against the Kenai Peninsula Hockey Association Ice Hawks, scoring 13 goals while goalie Oscar Nelson, earned a shutout. It was one of two tournament shutouts for Nelson, who gave up only eight goals across three days against tough competition.

In the second game of pool play on Friday, March 17, Juneau picked up their second win defeating Palmer Hockey Association Pioneers 11-1.

Moving into the second day, the Capitals faced Hockey Club Fairbanks. HCF also entered this game with a 2-0 record. The game went back and forth with the Capitals leading 3-2 with under a minute to play. HFC pulled the goalie and scored a last second goal to tie 3-3.

The last game of pool play saw the Capitals again put in a dominant performance against the Alaska Avalanche of Wasilla winning 7-1.

Four of the 11 teams that started the tournament advanced to the semifinals on Sunday. The final day started with a jolt; literally, as a 5.4 earthquake shook the arena approximately an hour before game time. The Capitals didn’t need any jolt as they went on to defeat NAHA Grizzlies of Fairbanks 5-0.

This victory set up a rematch against HCF in the finals. The game started similar to the previous game with HFC – a real back-and-forth effort by both teams. With five minutes left in the first period, Juneau scored on a laser pass from Mikhail Venechuk to the stick of Max Hayes for a tap in, ending the period with Caps up 1-0.

HFC responded with a goal early in the second period tying the game at 1-1. Juneau again took the lead when Quinton Burick positioned himself in front of the net and put in the Capitals second goal. HCF came right back for the second time, trying the game at 2-2. The third period was dominated by the Caps. Mitch Host went on a tear, scoring a natural hat trick and putting the Caps ahead by 3.

Then, Landy Kisser and Sawyer Friend hit the boards and kept the puck in HFC zone most of the third period. Landon Love and Rowan Taintor, with their speed and hustle kept HFC off balance the entire game. Porter Love played outstanding on defense. She was a one-lady wrecking crew, nobody got past her.

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