Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The biggest, baddest bears in Alaska are Crimson, not Kodiak. The Juneau-Douglas Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears hockey team had a dominating home ice stand as they swept the visiting Kodiak Bears on Friday and Saturday at Treadwell Arena by scores of 6-2 Friday and 8-1 Saturday.
“I think the kids made a great effort, and energy,” head coach Luke Adams said. “An emotional weekend in just that we haven’t played in so long at home and they were so excited, but once things settled down we were able to take control of the game. We’re really pleased with that result. The kids played hard, and that’s all we can ask.”
On Friday, the Crimson Bears found themselves in a first period battle with their Railbelt Conference opponent as both teams found the net.
JDHS junior Anna Dale scored the first home goal of the season at the 13:14 mark with an assist by sophomore Camden Kovach for a 1-0 advantage.
“I feel great,” Dale said. “I think it was a good motivation booster for our team. We really came together in the next period.”
Kodiak answered with goals from Colin McCarthy at 9:59 (assist Kody Mitchell) and Miles Grimes at 3:49 (Mitchell) for a 2-1 lead. But that would be the last feeding for the skaters from the isle of Kodiak.
JDHS senior Sam Bovitz scored unassisted at 2:24 of the first period to tie the score and the Crimson Bears were on their way, out-shooting the visitors 3-1 the rest of the way.
“It’s great to have family and friends and everyone playing together,” Bovitz said. “All of us having fun and winning games.”
In the second period, junior Karter Kohlhase scored at 10:51, assisted by senior Joey Meier, and Meier scored at 1:59, assisted by senior Dylan Murdoch.
“It was great,” Meier said. “We really missed having fans in the building. It brings a whole different atmosphere. It is nice having people cheering us on. It really helps the success of the whole team. And it really helps having everybody on the bench participating and getting points and just keeping morale high.”
In the third period, junior Brandon Campbell scored unassisted at 14:14.
“It was awesome. I think we all did great,” Campbell said. “We all played awesome. Got some good hits, got some good goals and good teamwork.”
Campbell grew up playing with his idol, older brother Matthew, who skated for the Crimson Bears from 2009-13. He wears the number 20 in honor of Matthew, who passed in 2020 from cancer. The team awards a scholarship in Matthew’s name (www.LiveLikeMatthewC.com).
“I got a goal and my coach said I had a smile like my brother did when he got his goal,” Campbell said. “It was awesome. And playing in front of all the fans is awesome. A great relief from a few years ago.”
Senior Andre Peirovi scored at 11:22 of the third, assisted by senior Fin Shibler and Bovitz.
Sophomore Mason Sooter stopped 11 shots on goal while Kodiak’s Oskar Klausner stopped 28 of 34 shots.
JDHS accumulated first period penalties for elbowing and holding and a second period interference call; Kodiak had penalties for interference, tripping and hooking in the second period, and hooking in the third.
On Saturday the Crimson Bears and Kodiak Bears skated hard and even through the first 14 minutes until JDHS’ Dale fought for a dirty goal at the front of the visitor’s net with 5.6 seconds remaining to take a 1-0 lead. Meier and sophomore Ian Moller were credited with assists.
“Just coming out hot,” Dale said. “I think we all are.”
Dale commented on playing in front of the home fans again.
“It was really good,” she said. “We missed out on it for a couple years. It was really nice. I think the energy was really good.”
Kodiak’s McCarthy scored at the top of the second period for a 1-1 tie, assisted by Noah Schrof, but roughly 17 seconds later JDHS’ Bovitz answered for a 2-1 lead with an assist by Shibler and the Crimson Bears would dominate puck possession the rest of the game.
Shibler assisted Bovitz again at the 11:40 mark for a 3-1 lead.
“I’m really glad that all of our team, like, I didn’t score my goals myself,” Bovitz said. “All of us work together. I just happened to have the puck on my stick and scored. It’s all a team effort. It is all about everyone just being positive. Just focusing on the game and everyone just having fun. That’s pretty much all it is. Everyone was just touching the puck. Everyone was moving the puck good entering the zone, everyone getting shots on net and just everyone having fun, having a great time.”
Kohlhase scored his second goal of the weekend with 4:06 remaining with assists by sophomore Caden Johns and senior Colton Johns for a 4-1 advantage.
The Crimson Bears put four more pucks to bed in the third period.
Peirovi scored his second goal of the weekend at the 9:11 mark, assisted by Bovitz and Kovach; Bovitz scored his third goal of the game, and fourth of the weekend, with 5:58 remaining, assisted by Peirovi and Colton Johns; junior Lake Bartlett scored with 3:05 remaining, assisted by Dale; and Meier slipped his second goal of the weekend across with 1:46 left, assisted by Bartlett, for the 8-1 final.
“Now we just have to carry this momentum through the rest of the season,” Meier said. “We have a lot of important conference games left.”
JDHS junior goalie Brayden Baxter stopped 12 of 13 shots on goal, Kodiak’s Noah Baxter 29 of 37.
Not showing on the score sheet was the passing and dirty work up front by senior forwards Illya Wallace, Cody Kesselring and Kyla Bentz and the end-to-end rink speed of senior defenseman Cody Roomsburg, among others.
JDHS had a roughing penalty in the first and second periods; Kodiak had a tripping penalty in the second period and was called for interference, tripping and roughing in the third.
“Discipline was a huge key,” Adams said. “Just because we knew that Kodiak was going to get frustrated as we kept moving all of our four lines into play. And when they got frustrated they started taking penalties and as long as we can keep our discipline and not take penalties we have a man advantage and we were able to capitalize.”
JDHS is a member of the Division II Railbelt Conference with Homer, Houston, Kenai, Kodiak, Palmer and Soldotna. The other DII conference, the Aurora Conference, includes Delta Junction, Glennallen/Kenny Lake, Monroe, North Pole and Tri-Valley. Three teams from each conference qualify for the state championships, plus there are two at-large bids from a pool of both conferences' fourth and fifth place teams.
JDHS next plays at Soldotna on Jan. 6-7 and at Kenai Jan. 8.
Adams noted that, while they have a lot of time off to work on minor adjustments, it is the holidays and players will be on vacations.
“Really we just have to keep working on the simple things, the basics and the fundamentals that we always go back to,” Adams said. “It’s skating, shooting, passing and team defense. It’s not one thing we need to work on but we just have to keep up with our skills and our progression on our special teams and that’s our goal, to just keep getting better until the end.”
Adams said he was happy with the team effort.
“Anna Dale had a great weekend,” he said. “She is a very dynamic player, scores goals, plays physical, so she had a great weekend. But also a lot of kids that didn’t get on the score sheet… Cody Roomsburg, Kyla Bentz, Illya Wallace, Cody Kesselring… those guys and girls are not out there on the score sheet but they are contributing in ways that are huge for our team and I think sometimes they don’t get the accolades they deserve and they had great weekends. So we were really pleased with that, too. It is good to see this team just keep growing and we’re excited to see where we can go from here.”
In Friday JV action, the Crimson Bears won 6-2. JDHS goals were scored by - 1st Per. - sophomore Macabee Brna (assist freshman Luke Bovitz, sophomore Dane Pederson); 2nd Per. - L. Bovitz unassisted; 3rd Per. - senior Jack Cisney unassisted, Brna (L. Bovitz, freshman Matthew Plang), Brna (L. Bovitz), freshman Zander Smith (freshman Dylan Sowa). Juniors Ian Murphy and Lydia Ploof and freshman Caleb Friend combined to stop 25 of 27 shots on goal. Kodiak scores came from Blake Terry (McCarthy) and Rylee Otto (Aiden Buschbacher) and goalie Christopher Newbill stopped 12 of 18 shots.
In Saturday JV action, the Crimson Bears fell 5-3. JDHS goals came from - 1st Per. - Sowa (sophomore Xavier Melanon), Sowa unassisted; 2nd Per. - junior Aidan Kovach (Pederson). Murphy, Ploof and Friend combined to stop 14 of 19 shots. Kodiak scores came from Terry (McCarthy), McCarthy (Terry), McCarthy, Gavin Baxter (Vonn Ardnt, Grimes) and Terry (LeElla Caskey, McCarthy). Tristian Aebb and Aidan Johnson combined to stop 14 of 17 shots.
Key to programs success is the team support across varsity and junior varsity lines.
“We try to build that culture with the whole program, JV and varsity,” Adams said. “But the best thing they are going to get out of this experience is just those relationships. We really let the kids know that when they focus on that, good things happen on the ice because you trust your teammates. And you trust the JV kids that are going to replace you one day when you graduate. So a lot of good things are happening in the program. We are proud about where we are at and where we are going.”