Wolves ice Chugiak once again
The Wolves can howl for another year.
For the second straight season, Eagle River won its two-game, regular season series against crosstown rival Chugiak with a 7-4 victory Saturday, Jan. 28 at the McDonald Center.
The two skated to a 1-1 tie their first meeting Nov. 17, 2011. Eagle River beat Chugiak for the first time in school history last season by sweeping the Mustangs with two one-goal wins.
“I feel like the tides might be turning a little bit,” Wolves’ captain Stephen Wescott said.
Wescott gave Eagle River its first lead of the game with the eventual game-winner midway through the third period. Prior to that, the teams traded goals on the first eight tallies of the game.
Wescott’s strike came in the middle of Eagle River’s five-goal burst in the third period.
“I don’t think we’ve ever scored five goals in a period,” Wolves’ head coach Kirby Senden said.
The offensive onslaught rattled Chugiak netminder Joey Lindquist, Wescott said.
“Joey’s a great goaltender,” he said. “To be able to get that many points on the board is amazing.”
Carter Jesiel led Eagle River with three goals and an assist. Brett Wood continued his hot streak with two goals and two assists. The Eagle River captain racked up 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists) in the past two games.
Kris Tomazevic and Tyler Painter led Chugiak with two points apiece.
A goal by Josh Smith in the closing seconds of the second period put the Mustangs up 3-2 heading into the third. The lead only lasted eight seconds.
Off the opening faceoff, Wood and Jesiel broke into Chugiak’s zone two-on-one. Wood slid a pass to Jesiel on the back door, and he buried it into the open net behind Lindquist.
“We just wanted to come out strong and get some points on the board,” Wood said.
Tomazevic regained the lead for Chugiak just over a minute later.
Six minutes later, Jesiel knotted the game at 4-4 and opened the floodgates for Eagle River.
Jesiel’s tally with 7:40 left sparked four unanswered Wolves’ goals, three of which came in a minute-and-a-half span.
Eagle River didn’t give Chugiak a chance to respond after taking its first lead with 6:26 to play. Quinn Hulse scored 16 seconds after Wescott to give the Wolves a 6-4 lead.
Jesiel capped his hat trick with an empty netter with just 20 ticks left on the clock. The goal came after a scramble in front of Eagle River netminder Brandon King.
With King down and without a stick, Chugiak’s Chad Peterson whiffed on a chance to cut the lead to one. Jesiel got to the puck and sent it into Chugiak’s gaping net from in front of Eagle River’s bench.
There was no better way to end the regular season than with a win over the Mustangs, Wescott said.
“It’s quite the buzz in the locker room,” he said. “Everyone is really excited.”
Wescott said the team fed off the energy of the packed house of screaming fans.
“Nobody — for even a second — gives up,” he said. “It’s always 110 percent.”
Eagle River remained poised despite trailing four separate times, Senden said.
As expected, Chugiak gave Eagle River a hard-fought game, Senden said.
“I knew coach Wild would have a good game plan,” he said. “He always does.”
The season finale served as Chugiak’s senior night. Four seniors — Lindquist, Peterson, Zach Johanson and Brady Sizelove — were honored during the first intermission.
The Mustangs finished fifth in the CIC with a conference record of 5-8-1, just one point ahead of sixth-place Eagle River (4-8-2).
Dimond (14-0) finished first followed by Service (11-3), South (10-4) and East (8-6). West (2-11-1) and Bartlett (0-14) finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
Eagle River 7, Bartlett 5
Brett Wood scored a goal in each period to lift Eagle River to a 7-5 conference win over Bartlett on Jan. 26 at the McDonald Center.
Carter Jesiel added a pair of goals and an assist for Eagle River.
Dimond-West 2, CER 1
With a 2-1 win Jan. 28 at the Mac, Dimond-West won the season series with Chugiak-Eagle River 3-2.
Holly Linder had the lone CER goal and goaltender Nicole Mrugala made 30 saves.
CER’s six seniors were honored prior to the game. They included, Russell, Mrugala, JoEllen Walters, Erin Shue, Sheridan Beal and Tilly Cantor.
CER finished third out of the four CIC teams and played Dimond-West in the opening round of the CIC tournament on Feb. 1. Check www.alaskastar.com to see how the team fared.