The Juneau-Douglas High School hockey team has secured a spot in the Mid Alaska Conference playoffs. With a 4-0 conference record (9-5 overall) the Crimson Bears are assured a game on Feb. 3 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Patty Center when the MAC playoffs begin, but this week’s road trip will be a factor in who that first round opponent is.
“I think we are all pretty excited to get back out on the ice again,” senior Bill Holbrook said. “We are eager for games. Especially against Lathrop and West Valley. I really like the feel of our team this year. We are all working good together and it feels like we have three solid lines. I am never concerned when one line is on the ice rather than the other two.”
The Crimson Bears will play Hutchison tonight and Monroe Catholic tomorrow, both are 3A schools that battled in the state championships last year. These two contests are non-conference opponents and, aside from being strong competitors, will serve to get the game rust off the JDHS skates after a long holiday break of practice and dry land training.
“Our practices have been going good,” senior Chris Jacobsen said. “We have been working on the little things. Like our coach says, we may not be the most talented team but we definitely work the hardest. I think that will pay off. We have definitely held our own this year. We have a lot of stamina, which is one of our strong points; we can play through the last seconds of the game. If we can work on the little details we have been practicing it will pay off.”
On Friday and Saturday the Crimson Bears will play conference foe Lathrop in Fairbanks and then play their final games next weekend against West Valley at Treadwell Arena. These last four games against the Malemutes and the Wolfpack will determine the seeding for the conference tournament. Currently the Crimson Bears are guaranteed the third seed.
“Our attitude is pretty good,” senior Zach Bicknell said. “A lot of us our on the ice just having a good time. A lot of smiles and hard skating, but that is expected. I guess we will just have to see how the trip goes. We have a lot of team chemistry and we are a little bit more creative than we have been in the past and hopefully we can get a few wins a place a little higher.
The top seed in the MAC playoffs faces the four seed in the opening round, the second and third place teams face off. The winners play for the conference title and both move on to the State Tournament at the Curtis Menard Sports Complex in Wasilla Feb. 9-11. They will join two teams from the North Star Conference and four from the Cook Inlet Conference.