The Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears were looking for a golden goal road this weekend and instead found some of the roughest and most icy conditions, in and out of the rink.
Finally arriving in Anchorage on Friday after flights were canceled in the capital city, JDHS battled ice storms on a bus ride to Homer for an early evening game against the small school Great Land Conference Houston Hawks.
The night was not any easier as the Mid Alaska Conference Crimson Bears put up their first two points of the season but fell 5-2 while racking up 11 penalties in one of the roughest games in recent memory.
“A lot of those were undisciplined penalties,” JDHS coach Luke Adams said. “Discipline is one of the things that we really try to get the kids to buy into. We just kind of fell apart. There was a lot of frustration with the trip, which is not an excuse but we let it be, and we paid for it. We paid that price and we learned a good lesson.”
Logan Moser was cited for boarding; Cole Cheeseman for roughing; Shane Moller crosschecking; Ethan Seid roughing and tripping; Josh Lahnum received knee, elbow and roughing calls; and Chase Barnum notched roughing and boarding.
The game was so physical that goalie Liam McDermott, who usually waits in the crease to stop any pucks and action coming his way, received a roughing penalty.
Houston totaled just five whistles, three for roughing, one crosscheck no-no and one hooking call.
Houston’s Mike Spidal lit the lamp at 6:03 in the first period with assists by Bradley Fortin and Yurly Natekin and added another at 10:26 in the second (assists Jon Ball, Jon Lovelace).
JDHS’ Ethan Seid scored unassisted at 9:46 in the second to cut the Hawks’ lead in half.
Houston started the final period with a Patric Thistle score (Ast. Lovelace) and JDHS’ Moser answered a minute later (Ast. Zach Easton, Moller) to bring the score back within one goal. The Crimson Bears were then given their first of five penalties in the final period and the Hawks the first of their three final period whistles.
Houston’s Lovelace capitalized on a man advantage at the end to score unassisted at the 0:42 and 0:10 marks for the final points margin.
JDHS’ McDermott stopped 18 shots on goal and Houston’s Rhys Jones turned back 24. The Crimson Bears outshot the Hawks in each of the last two periods.
“We didn’t play our best,” Adams said. “We couldn’t really generate much. Our kids were definitely frustrated but we just had to regroup and we made a lot of adjustments for the next game.”
Saturday morning the Crimson Bears topped the GLC’s Hutchison Hawks 4-0 behind two goals from Zach Hebert and a strong net performance by Neal Chapman.
“We mixed up our lines and tried to find different parity,” Adams said. “The kids played fast, did a lot of little things correct, and got the result. Neal played the best game we have seen him play,” Adams said. “He really helped us gain a lot of momentum and that was the backbone for us. He definitely delivered.”
Chapman stopped all 27 shots that came his way and allowed JDHS to stay on the offensive.
The Crimson Bears did not let themselves get frustrated when shots missed, kept their heads clean, and stayed out of penalty trouble.
“We did take a few penalties but they were penalties from working hard,” Adams said. “Our focus all week was creating goal-scoring opportunities.”
The Crimson Bears put 28 shots on the net and had bodies in front of the crease to screen the goaltender, which allowed the puck to bounce their way for, rebound shots that scored.
“Instead of playing fancy and having a perfect set up that was a highlight reel goal we really just focused on putting ourselves into position,” Adams said. “That way if we had a shot on net we created a second and third opportunity. That is the kind of hockey our team has to play to be successful. That is the type of hockey players we have.”
With 0:23 remaining in the first period Zach Hebert scored (Ast. Barnum, Moser) and followed that with a goal at 10:12 in the second (Ast. Luke Sewell, Grant Ainsworth).
Ainsworth connected on a power play goal at the 7:52 mark (Ast. Barnum, Cheeseman) of the second off a faceoff draw. The JDHS players set up quick and created the quick opportunity.
Sewell hit a shorthanded shot at 4:15 for the final point in the period and both teams skated the final stanza putting a total of 20 attempts at the nets.
Penalties on the night came from Lanham (elbow, roughing, interference), Easton (hooking), Kate Metcalf (crosschecking), Cheeseman (tripping), Michael Dale (roughing) and Barnum (interference). Hutchison had four penalties.
The Crimson Bears wrapped up their road trip with a 4-2 win over Homer on Saturday night, scoring two goals in the first period to take momentum from the Mariners who had been the only undefeated team in the tournament.
“They were the hardest competition and we played really well,” Adams said. “We got a great fast start.”
Moser scored at 13:12 (Ast. Dale) and Ainsworth at 7:52 (Ast. Moser).
Homer hit their first net at 8:09 of the second on a Clem Tillion shot but Hebert answered at 7:47 (Ast. Ainsworth) and Barnum scored just over a minute later (Ast. Hebert). The Mariners’ Kiril Samaron scored at 3:59 to end the tallies.
“Everybody contributed for sure,” Adams said of the balanced scoring. “Barnum hit a quick wrist shot from the point in traffic, Cheeseman played good defense that helped us establish good puck control moving up the ice and we just had a solid effort from everyone.”
Physical play ensued through a scoreless third period as both teams combined for 11 penalites on the night.
“We took everything we learned over the weekend and put it all together in this game,” Adams said. “This was our best three periods of hockey. We played disciplined hockey and never got in penalty trouble.”
The Crimson Bears next face North Pole at Treadwell Arena on Dec. 6-7.