Mustangs ice Wolves
Chugiak ended a five-game winless streak against Eagle River with a 3-2 win Saturday, Jan. 26 in front of a raucous crowd at the McDonald Center in Eagle River.
"That was freaking incredible," said Chugiak senior Nick Fussner.
Chugiak's Adam Groendyke broke a 2-2 tie with a power-play goal with 7:16 left in the second period for the game-winner. Kris Tomazevic netted the first two goals for the Mustangs, who finished the regular season 4-9-1 in the Cook Inlet Conference and will play No. 2 seed Dimond in the opening round of the CIC tournament on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Ben Boeke Arena in Anchorage.
Brett Wood scored two power-play tallies for the Wolves, who finished 5-9-0 in the CIC and will play No. 3 seed Service on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. at the Mac.
McDonald Center officials said Saturday night's crowd was the largest of the season, and both teams seemed to feed off the energy provided by the packed house.
"You could hear the crowd, you could feel the crowd," said Wolves coach Bill Comer.
Anyone expecting something other than a skate-thin margin of victory hasn't been following the rivalry closely. In the past eight meetings between the rivals, Eagle River holds a slim 4-3-1 advantage — with all eight games decided by a single goal.
Tomazevic credited the big crowd with giving his team a lift all night.
"The blood just starts going when you hear that," he said. "The fatigue goes away."
Eagle River was 4-0-1 in the last five meetings between the two teams, but Fussner said the winless streak is ancient history.
"Now we have bragging rights for another year," he said.
Tomazevic opened the scoring when he beat Wolves goalie Justin Lopez on the glove side midway through the first period.
Wood answered with a power play goal five minutes later to make it 1-1 after the first.
The two players traded power play goals in the second, with Tomazevic putting Chugiak up 2-1 with 9:57 and Wood equalizing less than two minutes later.
Groendyke's goal came on a slap shot from the top of the right wing circle off on assist from Jonathan Benovetz — his second of the night. Taylor Garner and Tyler Painter also picked up assists for Chugiak. Hunter Gally, Carter Jesiel and Troy Bouwens notched assists for the Wolves.
Goalie Matt Bennett made 21 saves for the Mustangs; Lopez stopped 15 shots for the Wolves.