Eagle River rallies to reach 4th place game at state hockey tournament
Just 16 hours after suffering its most devastating defeat of the season, the Eagle River High hockey team put itself in position for the program’s biggest triumph.
The Wolves knocked off Service 2-1 on Friday afternoon in the consolation semifinals of the ASAA/First National Cup Alaska State Hockey Championships at the Menard Center in Wasilla. The win put the Wolves into Saturday’s fourth-place game at noon against Dimond, where a victory would give the team its best finish in state tournament history. The No. 2 seeded Lynx defeated Homer 8-1 in Friday’s other consolation round game.
Tay Kurpius scored both goals in Friday’s victory. The all-conference forward struck on the game’s first shift, scoring off an assist from Tucker Lien less than 20 seconds into the game. Kurpius made it 2-0 early in the second period, this time off assists from Lien and Bryan Collins.
That was all Wolves goalie Ryan Gray would need, with the senior stopping all 15 shots he faced in a scoreless third period. Gray finished with 30 saves for the Wolves, who were outshot 31-27 by the No 8 seeded Cougars. Service’s lone goal was scored by Ian Bare with one second left in the second period.
Eagle River is making its second straight state tournament appearance and fourth since first making the tournament in 2016. The team has finished fifth in its three previous trips to state, including 2016, 2017 and 2019.
Friday’s noon start against Service quickly for fifth-seeded Eagle River, which was bounced from the winner’s bracket late Thursday night in a 7-4 opening round loss to No. 4 seed Wasilla. Lien scored twice and Kurpius had three assists in the game, which started about an hour late after No. 7 seed Colony stunned Dimond in double overtime. Brooks Christian and Zachary Rinder also scored for the Wolves, who got 20 saves on 27 shots from Gray.
Wasilla got two goals from Troy Randall and three assists from Michael Schachle.