Chugiak's Doug Keller, left, battles Kenai's Dylan Hendricks during Kenai's 2-1 win over the Mustangs on Jan. 8 at the McDonald Center in Eagle River.
STAR PHOTO by Matt Tunseth
Chugiak hockey coach Rod Wild has a theory that his team's recent offensive drought means the Mustangs are due to go on a scoring binge.
"These kids should be scoring more goals than they have been, so when they do start scoring goals they're going to come in bunches," Wild said following a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Kenai Central on Jan. 8 at the McDonald Center.
Chugiak fell to the Kardinals despite outshooting the North Star Conference squad 31-11 and dominating much of the action throughout. Kenai opened the scoring with a Jacob Iverson goal in the first, but the Mustangs tied things up on a second-period score by freshman Kris Tomazevic, who bulled his way to the front of the Kenai net and somehow pushed the puck past Kenai goalie Keegan Remsen.
"That's the kind of goals we need to get," Wild said of Tomazevic's gritty score.
But with the game looking to be heading toward overtime, Kenai's Zack Zulkanycz took advantage of a defensive mishap senior Lucas Geurts fell down as Zulkanycz broke in on net to beat goalie Matt Bennet with just 4.3 seconds left to go.
The goal came just seconds after the Mustangs had several golden chances to score, but were stonewalled by Remsen, who made 30 stops in the game.
"It's almost comical to do so much right and to have something like that develop," Wild said.
The loss continued a difficult stretch for the Mustangs, who haven't won since a Dec. 7 win over the Kardinals in Soldotna. Since that 2-0 victory, Chugiak has gone 0-4 and been outscored 12-2. The loss dropped Chugiak to 6-9 overall.
The loss to the nonconference Kards didn't hurt Chugiak in the standings, something that can't be said of the team's last two games in the CIC. Chugiak lost 5-0 to undefeated Dimond on Jan. 4 and fell 2-0 to East on Jan. 6. The losses dropped the Mustangs to 2-6 in the league, which Wild said likely a low seed in the CIC playoffs is now a near-certainty.
"I think we've worked ourselves into a position where we'll be stuck playing one of those top teams," Wild said.
If Chugiak wants to turn its season around, they'll have to do so without senior captain Sam Linder, who is no longer with the team. Chugiak lost two players to the mid-season grades check, and junior defenseman Chad Peterson is out for the year with a wrist injury.
Wild said he felt like Chugiak played well against the Kardinals, and believes his team turned a corner with a strong showing in the loss.
"We're playing so much better now than we did in the last five or six games," he said.
The key for the Mustangs down the stretch, he said, is for the team to continue believing that the goals will come and that victories will follow.
"Two years ago we were in sixth place and had to play the No. 3 seed and we beat them," he said. "...I don't know if it's us against the world so much as it is just playing one game at a time and working on things we've been working on."
Dimond 5, Chugiak 0
First-place Dimond got goals from five different players to roll to a 5-0 Cook Inlet Conference win on Jan. 4 at the Mac.
Dimond wasted little time asserting itself, getting a tally from Daniel Roberts just 14 seconds into the contest and rolling from there.
Chugiak goalie Joe Lindquist made 26 saves in the loss for the Mustangs.
East 2, Chugiak 0
Alexander Jackstadt scored twice in a span of 34 seconds to lift East to a 2-0 win over Chugiak on Jan. 4 at Ben Boeke.
Wolves lose game, captain loses cool
Eagle River lost the game and captain Ben Russell lost his cool in a 7-1 Dimond win in Cook Inlet Conference play on Jan. 5.
Russell, a senior captain who leads the Wolves in scoring this season, earned a game misconduct and two-game suspension with a brutal two-handed slash on Dimond's Aaron Dunlap, who had to be helped off the ice with an injury to his midsection.
"He's someone who should be setting a better example for our kids, and that kind of thing is just not tolerated," said Eagle River coach Kirby Senden.
The suspension meant Russell had to sit for Eagle River's 4-0 loss to East. He'll also miss tonight's clash with Service, but will be eligible to return on Jan. 15 when the Wolves face West. That game is likely to be key in the CIC standings, with Eagle River and West battling for fifth place in the eight-team league.
Dominic Thompson scored Eagle River's lone goal in the loss.
East 4, Eagle River 0
Joe Reynolds notched a pair of goals as East handed Eagle River a 4-0 CIC loss on Jan. 8 at Ben Boeke. Eagle River fell to 7-6 overall and 3-6 in the conference.
Carr stays busy in girls hockey defeat
It's hard to stand out in a 6-0 loss, but Chugiak/Eagle River goalie Sierra Carr did just that on Jan. 5 when she made 31 saves against Dimond/West at Ben Boeke.
"It was hard," said Carr, who blanked Dimond/West in the first period as the teams skated into the locker room tied 0-0.
"The first period we played really well," Carr said. "After that, we just fell apart."
Carr said she enjoys facing a large number of shots, though she admitted she needed a break after getting peppered by Dimond/West.
"I like getting a lot of shots, but I also like it when the defense gives me a break," she said.
The loss dropped Chugiak/Eagle River to 3-10-1 on the season, but Carr said she believes the team is getting better with each passing game.
"I think we're improving big time," she said.
Kenai Central 2, Chugiak 1
Jan. 8, McDonald Center
First period 1. Kenai- Iverson (un), 6:13.
Second period 2. Chugiak- Tomazevic (un), 3:27
Third period 3. Kenai- Zulkanycz (un), 14:57
Shots on goal: Chugiak 9-11-1131, Kenai 5-4-211. Saves: Kenai- Remsen 9-10-1130, Chugiak- Bennett 4-4-19. Penalties: Chugiak 2 for 4, Kenai 6 for 12.
Dimond/West 6, Chugiak/Eagle River 0
Jan. 5, Ben Boeke
First period none.
Second period 1. D/W- Soria (Koontz, Kristenson), 1:50; 2. D/W- Wolverton (Murray), 5:40; 3. D/W- Soria (Kristenson, Koontz), 6:49.