Chugiak hockey starts state tournament today
UPDATE: Chugiak lost 4-3 to Lathrop in the opening round of the state hockey tournament on Thursday's, Feb. 8, and fell 4-1 to Wasilla in the semifinals on Friday, Feb. 9.
Chugiak High’s quest for a Class 4A state hockey title begins today at 2:30 p.m. against Lathrop in the opening round of the ASAA Alaska Class 4A State Hockey Championships at the Menard Center in Wasilla.
The Malemutes beat Chugiak twice during the regular season. The first was a 4-0 win Nov. 11, 2011 in Fairbanks, and Lathrop completed the sweep with a 3-1 victory at the McDonald Center less than a month later.
Lathrop — the 2009 state champions — earned the No. 1 Mid Alaska Conference seed with a 6-4 win over West Valley on Feb. 4 in the conference championship. Chugiak enters the tournament as the Cook Inlet Conference’s fourth seed after losing 5-1 to Service in the CIC third-place game Feb. 3.
Chugiak head coach Rod Wild said his team’s success at state hinges on the performance of senior netminder Joey Lindquist.
“If Joey plays some of his best hockey, we’ve got a chance,” he said.
Chugiak captain Tyler Painter echoed his coach’s words.
“If Joey has a good game, we’ll probably come out with a win,” he said.
Lindquist is no stranger to rising to the occasion in big-pressure situations.
Trailing 2-0 in the opening round of the CIC tournament, Lindquist denied East’s Alex Jackstadt on a penalty shot to keep Chugiak in the game — which the Mustangs went on to win 3-2 in double overtime.
Lindquist, who along with Josh Smith was named to the all-conference team, made 113 saves in three games during the CIC tourney to help Chugiak make state for the first time in three years.
Eagle River junior forward also earned All-CIC honors. See www.alaskastar.com for a complete All-CIC list.
Other keys to success for Chugiak will include hard forechecking and taking the body, Painter said.
“When we’re doing good, we usually keep on them,” he said.
Wild agreed, saying Chugiak’s offense comes from forcing turnovers.
The Mustangs’ forecheck will be aided by the Menard Complex’s regulation-size sheet of ice, Painter said. The Mac’s Olympic-size sheet wears the team down faster, he said.
“The Olympic ice kills us,” he said.
A smaller ice surface will help neutralize opposing teams’ speed, Wild said.
With a locker room full of players experiencing state for the first time, being mentally prepared will be crucial, captain Chad Peterson said.
“We need to bury our heads and focus,” he said.
Chugiak will need to be first to every loose puck, Peterson said.
“We’re not as much of a skill team,” he said. “We’re all about work ethic.”
Getting traffic in front of opposing teams’ goalies will lead to scores for Chugiak, Peterson said.
“Chugiak hockey is about crashing the net,” he said. “They’re not pretty goals.”
Getting a win in the first round can set the tone for the rest of the tournament, Wild said.
“That kind of momentum generates itself,” he said.
Wild said he wants his team to break each game down shift by shift.
“We look at it as individual shifts,” he said. “I don’t have to win this game or this period, I have to win this shift. Hopefully, at the end of the game when you add them all up, you have a chance to win.”
Service 5, Chugiak 1
Led by Aaron McGinnis’ hat trick, Service downed Chugiak 5-1 in the CIC third-place game Feb. 3. at the Mac.
Smith scored the Mustangs’ lone goal with Painter and Kris Tomazevic adding the assists.
Chugiak trailed 2-0 heading into the third period, but two Service goals 21 seconds apart sealed the victory for the Cougars.
Lindquist stopped 41 of 46 shots faced.
Dimond 7, Chugiak 2
Top-seeded Dimond defeated Chugiak 7-2 in the CIC semifinals Feb. 2 at the Ben Boeke Ice Arena.
Smith and Painter each scored power-play goals for Chugiak. Tomazevic recorded two assists, and Peterson and Smith each had one.
Dimond put up three second-period goals to hold a 5-2 advantage going into the final period.