Double overtime victory over East earns Chugiak first state tourney berth since 2009


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Chugiak’s Josh Smith reaches for the puck in front of East goalie Owen Carlson during the Mustangs’ 3-2 win on Jan. 31 in the first round of the CIC hockey tournament at the McDonald Center. Smith’s goal 39 seconds into double overtime was the game-winner.

STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH

Sometimes a bad break can turn into a golden opportunity.

Trailing East 2-0 in the opening round of the Cook Inlet Conference hockey playoffs on Jan. 31 at the McDonald Center, Chugiak found itself on the verge of catastrophe when the T-Birds were awarded a second-period penalty shot after the Mustangs’ Chad Peterson was judged to have covered the puck in the Chugiak crease.

But when East’s Alex Jackstadt was stoned by Chugiak goalie Joey Lindquist on the freebie, the Mustangs’ stampede began.

“It was an entire turnaround for me because it made me feel like I had the game in my hands after that save,” Lindqust said after stopping 38 saves to help his team to a dramatic 3-2 win in double overtime. “It made everything feel a lot better.”

Junior captain Josh Smith sent the home fans into a frenzy when he beat East goalie Owen Carlson just 39 seconds into the second overtime on a partial breakaway.

“I don’t even know what happened, honestly,” Smith said after sneaking the puck past an East defender and through Carlson’s legs. “I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

Smith’s goal capped an improbable comeback for the Mustangs, who trailed 2-0 midway through the second period after goals from Jackstadt and Steven Butts.

Two minutes after Lindquist’s big penalty save, Chugiak cut the lead to 2-1 on a strike by Kris Tomazevic off assists from Smith and Eliot Herz.

Between the second and third period, Chugiak coach Rod Wild said he told his team that a momentum shift had occurred.

“I told the kids, ‘If you win this third period, I guarantee you’ll win the game,” Wild recalled.

The Mustangs did just that, picking up the tying goal on a Peterson rocket from the high slot less than two minutes into the third period. Hunter and Sam Hanson each notched assists on the play.

Neither team could net a goal in the first eight-minute overtime, setting up Smith’s heroics in the second bonus frame. Wild said after his team fought back to tie things up, he felt like the game was Chugiak’s to win.

“I was not surprised when Josh came down and buried the puck,” he said.

The victory put Chugiak in the state playoffs for the first time since 2009.

“It feels good to go back,” Wild said.

One of four seniors on the team, Lindquist said he couldn’t bear the thought of a third consecutive first-round CIC tourney loss.

“All or nothing tonight,” he said. “There was no reason to hold anything back.”

Smith said Lindquist’s leadership from between the pipes was the difference.

“He covered the whole net tonight,” Smith said.

Chugiak will face No. 1 seed Dimond tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Ben Boeke Arena in the CIC semifinals. The winner of that game moves onto the conference title game, while the loser will play for third place against tonight’s South/Service loser. All four semifinalists will play in the state tourney, which begins Feb. 9 at the Menard Center in Wasilla.

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