After a 20-day layoff from game action, the Juneau-Douglas hockey team is ready to put their three-game win streak on the line as Homer travels to Douglas Island in Juneau to take on the Bears tonight at TreadwellArena.
This marks the third of a 10-game homestand for the Crimson Bears (4-8, 2-4) as they take a break from Mid-Alaska Conference play. However, playing Homer is anything but a break, coach Dave McKenna said.
McKenna said Homer, who defeated JDHS 4-3 at their tournament earlier this season, will provide a physical challenge for the Bears.
"They play with a lot of intensity and bring a physical game, so we have to do our best to come out ready to play and not get wrapped up in the physical side of things," he said. "Offensively, they set the tone with their checking last game, but it wasn't our best effort."
McKenna said his team cannot afford to get mixed up in the style of play that Homer brings to the table.
"There is a tendency of physical play and it tends to be disruptive more than anything," he said. "So, we need to stick to our gameplan. In order to do that, we need to do to show up ready to play with full intensity."
During the long layoff, he said the team had several days of physical practices to help prepare for the weekend against Homer.
"You have to have a lot of physical play in practice leading up to it - which is one thing we've done - so that it doesn't really catch you off-guard if you play a team that's more physical than some of the other teams we've played," he said. "Our last games were not very physical before the break against Tok. Knowing that we have some tough competition coming up, we've done a lot of one-on-one battling for the puck and really tried to emphasize playing the body so that we push each other to be ready for physical play when the time comes."
McKenna said riding a three-game winning streak is a huge confidence builder heading into the remaining eight games in the current homestand, though the time off may have slowed the team's momentum.
He also said these games will help prepare the team for the remaining conference tilts on the schedule.
"Homer has always given us a good run for our money. It's always a fairly even matchup, so you can't come out and expect to walk away with the win. You have to work for it every time," he said. "So this is a really good game for us and it always has been in the past, so we're expecting a good weekend of hockey."
The game starts at 8 p.m. tonight at Treadwell Arena and 7 p.m. Saturday night.
Note: JDHS boys' basketball team opens tourney with win over 3A No. 2 Ben Eilson. More on B2.