Chugiak hockey coach faces tough decision

Mustangs’ netminder sees 51 shots in 8-0 loss


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Chugiak’s Ted Walters nails Dimond’s Austin Arnold into the boards during a CIC game Dec. 16 at the Mac. Dimond won 8-0.

STAR PHOTO BY MIKE NESPER

Rod Wild has some tough decisions to make.

Chugiak High’s head hockey coach will cut his 27-man roster down to 20 once the Mustangs return from their holiday break. The team has carried a heavy roster because Chugiak didn’t field a junior varsity team this year — the first time without one in school history.

Not wanting to cut anyone, Wild let the would-be JV players on varsity to develop their skills during practice. Though it’s not something he’s looking forward to, Wild said he needs to slim down his roster to gear up for the postseason.

No player will be cut from the team, Wild said, but their ice time during games will be significantly reduced.

At 3-5-1, Chugiak is fifth in the Cook Inlet Conference, just one point behind fourth-place East. Eagle River is in sixth at 1-3-2.

Wild said he’s hopeful Chugiak can stay in the middle of the pack in order to secure a decent first-round playoff match-up. Though Chugiak has been absent from the state tournament the past two years, Wild said, it’s something his team is striving for.

“It’d sure as [heck] be nice to get back,” he said.

The Mustangs’ two-year drought is the longest stretch Chugiak has gone without making state since Wild took over the program 12 years ago, he said.

Dimond (9-0) remained undefeated in conference play with an 8-0 win over Chugiak on Dec. 16 at the Mac. The Lynx, who are four points ahead of second-place Service (7-1), downed Chugiak by the same margin in the season opener back on Nov. 1.

The Mustangs will return to action Jan. 6 when they host Soldotna at 7:30 p.m. at the Mac.

Dimond threw a barrage of rubber at Chugiak netminder Joey Lindquist, who stopped 43 of the 51 shots he faced.

Chugiak managed just seven total shots on goal.

Aaron Dunlap, Tyler Thompson and Dawson Glover scored two goals apiece for Dimond.

Junior Nick Fussner’s play was one positive Chugiak took away from the game, Wild said. Fussner — who was dressing every other game — is now part of Chugiak’s regular lineup, he said.

“He competes. He works hard,” Wild said. “He was one of the bright spots tonight.”

If Chugiak wants to make state, the team can’t afford to give up so many shots, Fussner said.

“We need to work on our defensive zone coverage,” he said. “Joey’s doing fine. We just need to help him out more.”

Despite going 1-3 to end 2011, Fussner said he’s confident the Mustangs will turn things around in 2012.

“It’s been a rough couple weeks, but we’ll get back in it,” he said. “That’s the Chugiak way.”

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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