The Crimson Bears hockey team got all they could handle from the Delta Junction Huskies in a tightly contested 3-2 victory at Treadwell Arena on Friday night.
With the score tied 2-2 with 11:05 left in the third period, Dillon Tomaro broke out into the Huskies' end, split two defenders and flipped a wrist shot into the top left corner of the goal to give the Bears a 3-2 lead that they would hold the rest of the way.
"I went at the guy and I pulled (the puck) in and shot," he said. "I really wanted that. I only have one varsity goal right now so I really wanted it."
Tamaro is one of several JDHS hockey players that got more time on the ice during Friday's game, with several regulars getting the night off in preparation for the playoffs.
"I like having these games where they don't play all the varsity because I get a lot more ice time and get some more time to show the coaches what I can do," Tamaro said. "We need the experience, so it definitely helps us."
Delta Junction caught the Bears by surprise with their aggressive, scrappy style of play. After going down 1-0 at the end of the first period, JDHS regained focus in the second with two goals in the first four minutes of the period by Zane Chapman and Tod Baseden.
Marc Heifitz, another player who got a chance at more playing time, said the team wasn't expecting the style of play the Huskies brought to the ice.
"It was hard because you aren't used to people just going everywhere," he said. "People were making random lines and we weren't used to that.
Coach Dave McKenna said he wasn't pleased with the way his team came out to start the game.
"I wasn't really happy with how the group showed up to play tonight," he said. "But I'll take some of that blame, too, because we've been focusing so much on who we're going to see in the playoffs. So I do think we looked past these guys. They played hard, they played smart and it turned out to be a great game."
McKenna said the team was looking for a competitive game in order to give some of the younger kids some valuable experience.
"What we really wanted was a close game to make us better. It wasn't pretty, but we found a way to win," he said. "Once again, some of our younger players were some of our better players, so that's good for the growth of the program."
With a probable rematch against West Valley looming, it's safe to say this Bears team will see a much faster-paced game.
JDHS won Saturday's game 6-2, and earned a spot in the Mid Alaska Conference playoffs. More information will be in Monday's sports section.