Michael Dinneen

A beautiful if frosty morning with a temperature of -10 degrees greeted nearly 100 fat bike enthusiasts as they wound their way through Saturday’s Icy River Rampage, a 10-mile loop at the Eagle River Nature Center this past Saturday.

Shadows and sun played across the course as the surrounding peaks blocked the late morning’s warmth from reaching Eagle River’s frozen surface during most of the race, an annual fund raiser for the center.

The Chugiak varsity basketball teams doubled down on impressive wins Saturday night as the home squads played aggressive defense against their Bartlett visitors.

In the opening game, the girls stifled their Golden Bear opponents early, coasting to a 35-9 first-half margin then withstanding a second half rally to end their game with a comfortable 56-37 win.

Chugiak center Daniel Casey won the opening faceoff and without taking a stride fired the puck at the Service net for the first shot game Monday night.

The puck bounced off Cougar goalie Kevin Taunton and skittered harmlessly away. That was as about good as it got for the Mustangs in the opening period of their first round of the Cook Inlet Conference playoffs.

Managing Eagle River’s opening pressure was key for the Chugiak Mustangs in their 4-2 season-ending win Thursday night at the McDonald Center.

“We had to survive that first five minutes; if they had scored, it would have been a different hockey game,” said Mustangs head coach Rodney Wild. “And Riley had to be good.”

Wild was referring to netminder Riley Fugere, who was good as he stopped 14 shots in the first period alone and the offense used the momentum to jump to a 3-0 lead.

This year’s incredible spring weather has allowed increased access to local glaciers and lakes, by all manner of vehicles, four wheelers, snow machines, cross-country skiers and the ubiquitous fat bikers.

As they often do, Eagle River hockey parents Melanie Linn and Debbie Rinckey placed a banner on the McDonald Center glass Saturday prior to the day’s hockey game, then headed to the stands to watch.
What was unusual was that Linn would be watching two sons play for the Wolves varsity that day. With Austin’s call up from JV, Linn would soon watch team captain Josh and younger brother Austin play varsity together.

A blanket of fresh snow Friday may have made for challenging driving and added shoveling, but it couldn’t have been more welcome at the Beach Lake Trails in Chugiak, where the snow fell just in time for Chugiak Stampede, the first high school Nordic ski race of 2017.

Indeed, it felt like real winter again at the trails off Birchwood Loop as a brisk wind blew the fresh snow off the trees. The wind was powerful enough to flip Chugiak’s wax tent, making that particular chore a bit more complicated for the day.

As Heidi Booher’s day finished with a second-place finish in the sprint finals at Saturday afternoon’s Service Snowball races, she had two words for her handlers, “Clothe me!” she exclaimed, as she hurried to add layers to her ski suit. She then promptly skied off through the stadium tunnel to warm up following a very cold day of skiing.

There was suffering aplenty as 10-degree temperatures and a healthy breeze from the north combined to make a frosty opener to the prep ski season.

Shoes have many a meaning.

Cinderella’s slippers helped her find a handsome prince to marry. Another is to project a sense of personal style. Yet another is metaphorical, such as walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, an idea that promotes empathetic feelings.

In that regard, several students of Eagle River Elementary, along with Eagle River High School art students, are set to begin participating in a unique effort that combines philanthropy and art, the result of which will produce some 74 area children with artfully decorated shoes.

Winless on the season in four attempts, the Chugiak-Eagle River girls hockey team faced one additional hurdle Monday night: Their one and only netminder came down with the flu, and was unavailable for duty.

To another set of hockey players, this might be cause for alarm and/or depression. But Coach Ryan Suchan looked around the room, and found a volunteer in Annika Sullivan, who was willing to give it a go.