The Juneau Douglas Ice Association Squirt Division team won a silver medal in a seven-team tournament played at the Bill Brewster Arena in Haines Junction, Yukon Territory, Feb. 8-10.
Playing in their first series of games outside of Juneau, players displayed competitive grit and sportsmanship cited by opposing coaches as some of the classiest they’ve seen in youth hockey according to Squirts travel team coach Steve Baseden.
“Our kids played as they practiced, with maximum effort,” Baseden said. “Each game, on and off the ice, they represented Juneau by displaying good sportsmanship.”
These players, ages 10 and under, won six straight games, then dropped the title game that came down to an overtime shootout versus a Whitehorse club.
The championship ended in a 4-4, regulation tie. Neither team scored in a five-minute overtime, so the seventh Whitehorse player clinched the game in the final shootout.
Juneau defeated a team from Haines Junction, Watson Lake and three teams from Whitehorse, including two victories against one of the Whitehorse teams.
The trip began Feb. 8. with an eight-hour trip to Haines Junction; 4.5 hours by ferry and 3.5 by car. It closed with a weather-delayed return that ended with a 3:30 a.m. arrival Feb. 12.
The players hit the ice for their first game two hours after the long ferry ride and drive and recorded a 5-0 victory over Haines Junction.
The next day the Squirts won three straight games, claiming a second playoff seed to the also undefeated Whitehorse Black team.
Juneau won two playoff games Sunday before facing a much-awaited match up versus the Whitehorse Black team which had worked their way back up from the losers bracket, having lost its first playoff contest.
Juneau grabbed a 3-0 second period lead before Whitehorse staged a quick strike with three goals in the final five minutes of the second period.
Whitehorse took a 4-3 lead with a power-play goal, but Juneau quickly struck back with its own score, forcing the overtime and ultimately the shootout.
In March, the team travels to Anchorage for a statewide competition against teams from Fairbanks, the Kenai region and the Anchorage area.
“Our hosts were extremely gracious, and we were thankful for an invitation to play such competitive teams and for their hospitality,” Baseden said. “Now, we’re looking forward to representing Juneau at the state tournament in Anchorage in mid March.”
Players representing Juneau in Canada were: Gage Cooney, Taylor Bentley, Gabriel Miller, Colter Polley, Fin Shibler, Evan Fabrello, Cody Kesselring, Scott Baseden, Paxton Wildes and Dawson Hickok.
Coaches Baseden, Dan Fabrello, Bill Wildes and Steve Quinn accompanied them.