The Juneau-Douglas High School hockey team knew they were in for a dizzying week when they embarked on a four-game Fairbanks road trip to cap their season as 4A Mid-Alaska Conference members.
The Crimson Bears (14-6 overall, 2-4 MAC) followed Wednesday night's tough 5-2 loss to West Valley with a 9-0 blanking at the hands of North Pole Thursday night.
"We knew coming in that they're sitting at second in the conference and they're not too far behind Lathrop in terms of quality of play," JDHS coach Dave McKenna said. "Supposedly, this is a top five team in the state and we found out why first-hand tonight."
The Patriots (5-2 MAC) lost the MAC season title to Lathrop, who finished undefeated in conference play, with a 4-3 loss on Tuesday.
McKenna pointed to the games relentless pace as the downfall of his team on Thursday night.
"They have two really good scoring lines and other lines are pretty good too," McKenna said. "If we have one guy out of breath against them we're in trouble."
The Bears were also hurt by the loss of senior Albert Svensson, who was knocked out of the West Valley game with a severly sprained ankle, according to McKenna. Svensson will likely miss the remaining games of the road trip against West Valley again tonight and North Pole again Saturday night.
The bright spot for the JDHS squad in both games came in the net. Sophomore goalie Garrett Cheeseman faced 43 shots and allowed just five goals on Wednesday night. Fellow sophomore goalie Matt Noreen faced 44 shots of his own Thursday against the more highly-touted Patriots.
Juneau-Douglas managed seven shots of their own against North Pole.
"We're still making the transition from teams like Monroe to teams like these. It's a big extreme to cover," McKenna said. "It's great for us to get this kind of competiton, though. This is what we need to make us better."
With the same two teams coming up for quick rematchs, McKenna feels his squad will be better able to handle the pressure of their final conference games.
"The speed on the first night out can put them back on their heels a bit, but now we know what's coming up and we need to muster up our focus," McKenna said. "If we don't, they'll take advantage."
West Valley 5, JDHS 2
FAIRBANKS - The West Valley hockey team didn't allow Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears near the net often, as the Wolfpack rolled to a 5-2 win.
The Crimson Bears were outshot 43-9 in Wednesday night's Mid Alaska Conference contest in the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
"We kept a consistent forecheck and the defense did a good job of deciding when to pinch and not to pinch," Wolfpack coach Wayne Sawchuk said.
Though it was a dominant performance by West Valley, Juneau was able to tie the score at 1-1 with what Sawchuk described as a "bang-bang play" from a face off with 57 seconds left in the first period.
The Wolfpack responded almost immediately with a goal 20 seconds later by junior forward Tyler Bolles.
West Valley goalie Cacy Wilfer stopped the other seven shots and his team's record improved to 9-10 overall and 3-4 in conference.
Tanner Shoemaker, Dylan Blankenship, Patrick Evans and Johnny McGee also netted one goal each for the Wolfpack.
Blankenship tabbed two assists, and West Valley's Ben Henne, Logan Henne, Joe Brady and Justin Woods notched one helper apiece.
Brady and defenseman Sean Sylvester were honored during the game, as it was the Wolfpack's senior night.