Eagle River ready for first state tournament, faces West Valley
If state hockey tournament newbies Eagle River and the Chugiak Mustangs share anything in common this year, it’s good goaltending. Both Mustang Jack Walters and Eagle River’s Trent Burnham are All-Cook Inlet Conference selections.
Joining Burnham on the All-CIC team for the Wolves are Sutton McDonald, Josh Linn, Ben Rinckey and Connor Canterbury.
Eagle River will play Fairbanks powerhouse West Valley Thursday at 2.30 pm at the Menard Center in Wasilla, while Chugiak plays Soldotna at 7 p.m.
Eagle River earned their first-ever trip to state with a first-round upset over South by a score of 2-1 in triple overtime.
Since then, losses to Dimond and West have brought the Wolves down to earth a bit, but the team is still focused on making a strong showing at state.
Wolves coach Bill Comer, who was named the Cook Inlet Conference Coach of the Year, reflected on the CIC tourney.
“After an emotional game (with South) it was very difficult to regroup and play another tough opponent two nights later. Playing in a triple overtime game really took a lot out of us. We had another game the very next night against the defending state champions. We’re just learning about the grind it takes just to get to the state tournament.”
Burnham enters the tournament with a .915 save percentage, and a 3.16 goals-against average.
“We rested over the weekend and enjoyed some time off. Trying to get everyone healthy before Thursday. The team is excited about playing in the state tournament and they will be ready,” said Comer, adding that “overall it’s been a fun ride to this point and we just are not ready for it to be over yet."