After a closely contested 3-2 victory Friday night, the Crimson Bears picked up the pace Saturday in a 6-2 win at Treadwell Arena.
Juneau-Douglas (10-10, 2-6) got their first line back as Nick Mow, Bill Holbrook and Chris Budbill got the start after resting during Friday's game. Zane Chapman, Zander Hoke and Eric Verrelli took Saturday's game off in preperation for the upcoming trip to Fairbanks for theplayoffs.
Head coach Dave McKenna said the team came out with more intensity Saturday and it showed on the scoreboard.
"Mow's line played a really good game and had a noticeable presence out there. I thought we played with a lot more heart on Saturday, and that's sometimes a result of having to sit and watch a game," McKenna said referring to Mow, Budbill and Holbrook not playing Friday night. "Nothing makes you want to play more because it's frustrating sitting on the sidelines.
"I felt good about the way things went especially because we had seven different players in the lineup than we did on Friday night."
With West Valley's victory over Houston last week, the Bears are officially playoff-bound.
Many of the young Bears players got a chance to play over the weekend, giving them valuable experience that will be important to the maturity of the team in the future.
"I think we're maturing as a group and it was really nice to see a lack of panic. We just realized we came in a little under-prepared and under-motivated (Friday), and (Delta Junction) was actually a little better than we expected," McKenna said. "It was a challenge, but we rose to it and found a way to win. It wasn't the prettiest win in the world, but the next night we came out better prepared."
McKenna said with the first line back on the ice on Saturday, there was more control of the puck and there were fewer broken plays. He also said several younger players stepped up in the absence of those sitting and played very well, including Ben Peyton, Marc Heifitz, Dillon Tamaro, Riley Leary and Martin Woodby.
With playoffs set to begin Friday, McKenna said though Friday's game was closer than expected, the team feels good about their upcoming trip to Fairbanks. He said the rest he gave several of the older players should prove beneficial going forward.
"It gives them some recent game experience, but not a whole bunch at a slower pace. It makes them a little hungry to get back out there and do a better job if they didn't have a great night, or, in the case of Nick Mow's line, they still have a little momentum," he said. "It could have backfired, for sure. Friday night made me a little nervous because it was a very close game and we didn't play our best.
"But when the weekend was all said and done, we felt good about the way things went."