Wolves win in Wasilla, advance to state hockey semis for third time in four years

Sunday, February 10, 2019 - 13:23
  • Eagle River players celebrate the first goal of the team’s 5-4 win over Wasilla in the first round of the First National Cup Alaska Division I Hockey Tournament on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 at the Menard Center in Wasilla. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Eagle River’s Ian Newman skates with the puck during the Wolves’ 5-4 win over Wasilla in the first round of the First National Cup Alaska Division I Hockey Tournament on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 at the Menard Center in Wasilla. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Eagle River’s Logan Dudinsky shoots the puck during the Wolves’ 5-4 win over Wasilla in the first round of the First National Cup Alaska Division I Hockey Tournament on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 at the Menard Center in Wasilla. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Eagle River goalie Ryan Gray makes a save during the Wolves’ 5-4 win over Wasilla in the first round of the First National Cup Alaska Division I Hockey Tournament on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 at the Menard Center in Wasilla. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Eagle River’s Sal Demma shoots the puck during the Wolves’ 5-4 win over Wasilla in the first round of the First National Cup Alaska Division I Hockey Tournament on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 at the Menard Center in Wasilla. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Eagle River goalie Ryan Gray watches the puck fly into the air after making a save during the Wolves’ 5-4 win over Wasilla in the first round of the First National Cup Alaska Division I Hockey Tournament on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 at the Menard Center in Wasilla. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Eagle River’s Ty McEnaney looks up the ice during the Wolves’ 5-4 win over Wasilla in the first round of the First National Cup Alaska Division I Hockey Tournament on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 at the Menard Center in Wasilla. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Eagle River’s Skyler Johnson, right, defends against Wasilla’s Colin Goff during the Wolves’ 5-4 win over Wasilla in the first round of the First National Cup Alaska Division I Hockey Tournament on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 at the Menard Center in Wasilla. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Wasilla’s Langston Bouma reacts as Eagle River players celebrate behind him following Eagle River’s 5-4 victory over Wasilla at the First National Cup Alaska Division I Hockey Tournament on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 at the Menard Center in Wasilla. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)

Logan Dudinsky scored three goals — including the game-winner — Thursday night to lead Eagle River into the state hockey semifinals for the third time in four years.

Dudinsky’s shot from the blue line with 10:37 left in the third peiord broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Wolves the lead for good in front of a large and decidedly pro-Warriors crowd at the Menard Center in Wasilla.

The game featured three ties and two lead changes. The Warriors sent the home crowd into a frenzy just 25 seconds in when Larson McKinley beat Eagle River goalie Ryan Gray on the first shot of the game.

Eagle River equalized less than four minutes later on a Brooks Christian goal off a Dudinsky assist, then took the lead less than three minutes after that on Dudinsky’s first score off Tucker Lien and Ian Newman helpers.

Wasilla’s Zachary Roush scored the only goal of the second period to tie things heading into what would prove to be a wild third period.

Eagle River scored three power play goals and Wasilla had one of its own in a period that featured 10 of the game’s 16 penalties. The Wolves took a 3-2 lead when Tay Kurpius sent a picture-perfect feed across the Wasilla crease to Skyler Johnson, who slapped the puck into the open net with 14:22 to play. Wasilla tied the game again with a power play goal of its own by Langston Bouma less than two minutes later.

Kurpius and Ty McEnaney assisted on the game-winner, a low shot by Dudinsky from the blue line with 10:37 left in the period.

Dudinsky added some insurance with 2:25 to play, and it proved important when Wasilla pulled back within a goal 13 seconds later on a Troy Randall tally.

Gray finished with 17 saves on 21 shots for Eagle River, which outshot the Mid Alaska Conference champions 29-21. Aaron Campbell made 24 saves for the Warriors.

The win advanced the Wolves to the state semifinals for the third time since 2016. There, they’ll meet Cook Inlet Conference champion South at 5 p.m. at the Menard for the second time in the last three years. The same scenario played out in 2017, when the Wolves also advanced to the semis against South with a win over Wasilla. That year, the Wolverines posted a 3-1 win en route to a runner-up finish behind Chugiak.

In 2016, Eagle River lost to Chugiak in the semifinals in the team’s first ever state appearance. In both previous state appearances the Wolves lost in the consolation round and finished fifth.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled Kurpius’s first name.

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