River's Dacota Wood (25) lines up a shot as Chugiak's Sean Casey (22) tries to poke the puck away. Wood and Casey were each named to the Cook Inlet Conference's all-conference team after a vote by the league's coaches. Eagle River hockey coach Kirby Senden (above, left) gives instructions to his team during a timeout during the Wolves' 2-1 win over Chugiak on Jan. 27. Senden was named the Cook Inlet Conference's Coach of the Year after guiding the fifth-place Wolves to their best season in school history.
STAR PHOTOs by Matt Tunseth Eagle
Kirby Senden knows just where his new plaque is going.
"I'm definitely the kind of guy where it'll get lost in the drawer," Senden said.
Senden, who guided the Wolves to a school-best fifth place finish in the Cook Inlet Conference this season, was named the CIC's Coach of the Year by his peers in voting announced following the conference championship game on Feb. 5.
Chugiak and Eagle River each had one player named to the All-CIC team, which this season included 12 forwards, six defenders and two goalies. Wolves senior Dacota Wood, who scored the game-winner in his team's regular season-ending win over Chugiak, made the team for Eagle River, while Chugiak senior captain Sean Casey got the nod for the Mustangs.
Dimond, which went undefeated during the regular season and beat South 2-0 in the CIC title game, placed eight players on the team. South and Service each landed four players on the team, East had two on the squad and West and Bartlett got shut out.
Senden said he felt like Wood was one of a handful of Wolves players who had an honors-worthy season.
"But if you look at the names on that all-conference list there are some phenomenal hockey players," he said.
Wood finished tied with Dom Thompson and Ben Russell for the team lead in goals with 12, and finished second to Thompson in points scored. He also scored the biggest goal of the season for Eagle River, netting the game-winner in the team's 2-1 win over Chugiak to help them complete a season sweep of the Mustangs.
"He made some big plays when it counted," Senden said.
Casey, meanwhile, was Chugiak's steadiest skater down the stretch, notching a pair of assists in Chugiak's upset of Service in the team's regular-season finale, then giving the Mustangs a brief lead over the Cougars in Chugiak's 4-2 loss in the opening round of the CIC playoffs.
Though he guided the Wolves to a school-best 11-win season Senden said he views his own award as more a reflection of his program and the community as a whole.
"In my eyes it's a team award. I wouldn't have been a recipient if it wasn't for the kids and the parents that have to put up with me," he said.
The CIC coaches who voted on the award would disagree. Senden's Wolves this season gained a big measure of respectability they swept three conference opponents this season and took a point from second-place South and he admitted he's proud of the season his team had.
"It's a nice award, some recognition of the fact that you're doing a good job is always nice," he said.
Senden said the most gratifying part of getting named the CIC's top coach is that it means the program he's building he's been the Wolves coach since the program's inception has finally started to gain some ground as a team to be reckoned with.
"We have worked so hard to make this program one that kids want to come back to and be a part of," he said. "I think we've done that so far."
Contact Matt Tunseth at firstname.lastname@example.org or 694-2727.
CIC All-Conference Team
Forwards: Sean Casey, Chugiak; Dacota Wood, Eagle River; Tyler Thompson, Dimond; Daniel Roberts, Dimond; Shilo Vega, Dimond; Adrian Ramos, Dimond; Alex Jackstadt, East; Jeremy Smith, Service; Conor Deal, Service; Aaron McInnis, Service; Quest Bain, South; Kyle Simmons, South.
Defense: Austin Arnold, Dimond; Tyler Andrews, Dimond; Tony Crow, Dimond; Garrett Brown, Service; Sage Welch, South; Austyn Onstott, South
Goalies: Justin Luiten, East; Thomas Davis, Dimond
Coach of the year: Kirby Senden, Eagle River
This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, February 9, 2011.