Chugiak tops rival Wolves to end regular season
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.
The Mustangs’ defense also escaped a pair of 5-on-3 power plays on a night when they were outshot 23-16.
On the evening, Chugiak spread the goals among Jacob Kosinski, Tyler Huffer, Peter Simmes and Grant Epple. Daniel Casey had three assists. Eagle River eventually cut the lead to 3-2 in the third period before Epple sealed the win with 7 minutes to play.
Eagle River had goals from Nick Silance and Sal Demma, who had the third-period goal for the Wolves to make it 3-2. Silance had an assist as well and Ty McEnaney had two.
Looking ahead to next week’s Cook Inlet Conference playoffs, Wild noted that his skaters will have a another shot against the Service High Cougars after falling Jan. 20 by a 3-2 count despite outshooting them 15-5 in the final period without putting the puck in the net.
Chugiak will enter the CIC tourney as the No. 4 seed against No. 5 Service on Monday at 7:15 at the McDonald Center.
“The kids are super-excited to have another chance to play them,” said Wild.
Eagle River head coach Travis Martin felt his team started out a little jittery Thursday night, but overall thought his team played well.
“We had our chances on the 5-on-3s, but we just couldn’t put the puck in,” he said. “It was fast hockey and our kids left their hearts out there.”
The Wolves will play West to open their tournament on Tuesday, entering the CIC tourney as the No. 6 seed. Eagle River lost 4-3 on Tuesday to West, who is the No. 3 seed. The game will also be at the McDonald Center at 7:15.
“We’ll keep our heads held high, and there’s a good chance for us,” he said.
Chugiak has won the last two CIC tournaments, defeating Eagle River in the title game last year.