Eagle River hockey downs Chugiak
Brett Wood scored 55 seconds into the third period to lift Eagle River hockey past Chugiak 4-3 on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at the McDonald Center — stretching the Wolves’ undefeated streak against their rival to five games.
Eagle River is now 4-0-1 against Chugiak over the past three seasons. The two don’t meet again until the final game of the regular season Jan. 26, 2013.
Wood’s power-play tally came with just three seconds left on Kris Tomazevic’s head contact minor. Wood got to the rebound after a shot from defenseman Quinn Hulse and lifted the puck over Chugiak netminder Matt Bennett.
“I just spun around looking for the rebound and tipped it in,” Wood said.
Bryan Grant also assisted on the game-winner.
With the win, Eagle River improved to 2-3 while Chugiak fell to 1-4.
Chugiak had a chance to force overtime when a late tripping penalty against Stephen Wescott put the Mustangs on the man advantage with 38 seconds left in regulation. Though nerve-racking, Eagle River kept calm and killed it off, Wood said.
Chugiak had another third-period power play opportunity when Wyatt Beebe was called for holding six minutes in.
After giving up three first-period goals, Wolves’ goaltender Justin Lopez said he was determined to keep his net a puck-free zone.
“I just kept strong on my feet,” he said. “I wasn’t going to let them score anymore.”
Lopez said the Wolves were rewarded for their hustle.
“We deserved to win,” he said. “We played harder than them.”
Eagle River took a quick lead after Grant scored less than two minutes into the game with the assists going to Hunter Gally and Kyle Johnson.
Chugiak responded with three straight tallies in a two-and-a-half-minute span.
Taylor Garner lifted a backhand over an outstretched Lopez to knot the game at 1-all. Then, penalties by Carter Jesiel and Gage Nehilla put Chugiak on a two-man advantage for 1:40.
And the Mustangs cashed in.
After William Casey scored on a feed from Tomazevic, Hunter Hanson buried a close-range backdoor goal 42 seconds later to put Chugiak up 3-1. Sam Hanson and Matt Lowery had the assists on Hunter Hanson’s goal.
“They got goals when they needed them,” Wolves’ head coach Bill Comer said.
Eagle River cut the lead to one when Nehilla put a rebound past Matt Bennett with 2:26 left in the first. Hulse and Brant Bennett had the helpers.
Jesiel tied the game in the second period on a feed from Jesse Johnson.
During the first intermission, Wood said Comer told the team — which took three first-period penalties — to play more disciplined.
“Skate hard the rest of the game and stay out of the box,” he said.
Eagle River responded well to the two-goal deficit, Comer said.
“We’re proud of the boys coming back the way they did,” he said.
Chugiak was solid defensively, but the Wolves’ owned the neutral zone, Mustangs’ head coach Rod Wild said.
“Eagle River did a great job controlling the middle of the ice,” he said.
Though disappointed, Wild said it’s a long season and the team can’t dwell on one loss.
“We just got to get better and not be so hard on ourselves now,” he said.