Eagle River's Dacota Wood (25) scored on a rebound with 22 seconds left to lift the Wolves to a 2-1 win over Chugiak on Jan. 27.
STAR PHOTO by DAN SHEPARD
In the days leading up to the big Chugiak-Eagle River hockey game on Jan. 27, the Internet was buzzing with chatter from the Chugiak student body about how the upstart Wolves' 3-2 victory in the teams' first meeting of the season had been something of a fluke.
"All over Facebook, everyone was talking," said Eagle River forward Dominic Thompson.
Thompson and his teammates decided to do their talking on the ice.
Dacota Wood scored on a rebound with just 22 seconds left and goalie Andrew Shortridge made 19 saves to lift the Wolves to a 2-1 victory, leaving half the fans in the packed McDonald Center screaming and the other half silent.
"You can't really call it a fluke anymore," Wood said.
The victory helped Eagle River clinch fifth place in the Cook Inlet Conference standings and a first-round playoff date with East. Had the Mustangs won, they would have secured the fifth spot with their upset win over Service on Jan. 28.
Fans who stood in line outside the Mac hoping to see a repeat of the classic battle the two teams waged in December were not disappointed, as the second meeting between the squads was a hard-hitting, tense affair from the opening puck drop.
"It's brutal to lose a game like that," said Chugiak goalie Joe Lindquist, who made 24 saves. "Hometown rivals, such an intense crowd, an intense game all around. There were no slow parts of the game."
The game was scoreless after one period, but not for a lack of trying. Shortridge was pressed into battle mode midway through the period, making a huge save on Josh Smith's wrister with the Mustangs on the power play midway through the frame. Later in the period, Lindquist had a huge glove save on Carter Jesiel's point-blank slap shot that earned loud chants of "Joey, Joey" from the Chugiak faithful.
There were heavy checks from the opening minute through the final buzzer, when Eagle River's Joel Cage upended Doug Keller to give the crowd something to chat about during the intermission.
"It was very physical," Lindquist said.
Hunter Gally sent the Eagle River fans into a frenzy when he netted the game's first goal off an assist by Thompson with six minutes to go in the second period, and that's how things stayed until the third, when Chad Peterson evened things up from right in front of the net to make it 1-1 with 11:41 to go.
Eagle River nearly broke the deadlock with 37 seconds left, but Lindquist came up huge, stopping a slap shot from Quinn Hulse and a point-blank rebound attempt by Stephen Wescott. But just 15 seconds later, the Chugiak junior had no chance when Wood lifted the game-winner into the top of the net.
"It was just a scramble," Lindquist said. "I got a couple saves there and they just popped one of the rebounds home."
Both team's coaches came away from the thriller pleased with the effort if not the outcome.
"To a man, every kid out there did the same thing, they were all on the same page," said Mustangs coach Rod Wild. "I couldn't be more proud of the kids. We didn't win, but somebody's gotta lose."
Eagle River coach Kirby Senden said the game lived up to the hype, and he expects the twice-annual rumbles between the two squads to be just as intense in years to come.
"We have to prepare for a battle like that every time," he said. "It's good for the community, and it's good for hockey in the area.
Chugiak 3, Service 1
Ben Morse, Jake Wells and Jaron Jones each scored goals as Chugiak ended its regular season with a 3-1 upset of Service in the Cook Inlet Conference finale on Jan. 29 at the McDonald Center.
All three goals came in the third period, with Jones' strike finding an empty net with just six seconds to go. Joe Lindquist made 29 saves for the Mustangs, who ended the regular season with a 9-11 overall record and went 5-9 in the CIC to finish sixth.
Eagle River 5, Bartlett 1
Eagle River completed a season sweep of Bartlett with a 5-1 CIC win at the McDonald Center on Jan. 25.
Five different players scored for the Wolves, who improved to 9-9-1 overall and 5-7-1 in the conference.
Bartlett finished 0-14 in the CIC.
Dominic Thompson, Joel Cage, Stephen Wescott, Addla Platt and Dacota Wood each notched goals for the Wolves, who scored twice on the power play and outshot the Golden Bears 46-12.
Brandon King made 11 saves in net to pick up the win.
Eagle River 2, Chugiak 1
Jan. 27, McDonald Center
Chugiak 0 0 1 1
Eagle River 0 1 1 2
First period none.
Second period 1. ER- Gally (Thompson), 8:58
Third period 2. Chu- Peterson (Herz), 3:19; 3. ER- D. Wood (Thompson) 14:38
Shots on goal: Chugiak 6-6-820, Eagle River 8-10-826. Saves: Chu- Lindquist 8-9-724, ER- Shortridge 6-6-719. Penalties: Chugiak 5 for 10, Eagle River 3 for 6.
Eagle River 5, Bartlett 1
Jan. 25, McDonald Center
Eagle River 1 2 2 5
Bartlett 0 0 1 1
First period 1. ER- Thompson (Nehilla), 10:45
Second period 2. ER- Cage (Thompson), pp, 6:22; 3. ER- Wescott (D. Wood), 11:45
Third period 4. ER- Platt (un), 3:03; 5. Bar- Johnson (Whittle, Gephart), pp, 10:48; 6. ER- D. Wood (un), pp, 12:53
Shots on goal: ER 20-14-1246, Bar 3-5-412. Saves: ER- King 3-5-311, Bar- Andariese 19-12-1041. Penalties: ER 2 for 4, Bar 5 for 10.
Chugiak 3, Service 1
Jan. 29, McDonald Center
Chugiak 0 0 3 3
Service 1 0 0 1
First period 1. Ser- Crabb (Brown, McInnis), 7:35
Third period 2. Chu- Morse (Wells), 4:51; 3. Chu- Wells (Morse, Casey), 8:38; 4. Chu- Jones (Wells, Casey), en, 14:54
Shots on goal: Chugiak 6-6-618, Service 10-6-1430. Saves: Chugiak- Lindquist 9-6-1429, Service- Bradison 6-6-315. Penalties: Chugiak 3 for 6, Service 3 for 6.
This article published in The Alaska Star on Thursday, February 3, 2011.