A group of 9- and 10-year old players made Juneau hockey history Monday in Soldotna.
The Juneau Douglas Ice Association Squirts team won the first youth state championship in town history after defeating Kenai 7-2 for the Alaska State Squirts Tier IV title.
"Not one of them has touched the ground since they started throwing the gloves in the air," coach Steve Foster said.
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"We had a pizza party and brought the trophy inside, and the kids are having a ball."
The Juneau Squirts trailed 1-0 after one period to Kenai but rallied back to win the title.
Juneau scored four goals in the second period and three more in the third in the win.
Jonathan Weston scored four goals, Tod Baseden added two more and Cole Cheeseman scored a goal and had two assists in the win. Cory West had two assists for Juneau.
Goaltender Liam McDermott turned back 4 of 6 shots he faced to preserve victory.
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The team finished undefeated after rolling its way though the field.
In the preliminary round, Juneau defeated three opponents 24-1 before routing Healy 14-1 Saturday in the quarterfinals.
Juneau then beat Fairbanks 12-0 in the semis earlier Monday to set up the final against Kenai.
In all, Juneau scored 57 goals while goaltenders Alec May and McDermott yielded just four goals in six games.
"Most of the kids on this team have gone through the mites program (for 7- and 8-year-olds) and had a year of squirts already," Foster said of his team. "They are the ones that have hockey mentality to them. They know how to ice skate. They understand the objective is to chase that little black biscuit."
The JDIA, which serves as Juneau's youth hockey organization, is currently in its fourth season.
This season has quickly turned into a milestone season for local youth hockey. The Bantam Tier IV team made it to the state championship finals, while a Pee Wee squad became the first Juneau team to compete in the more competitive Tier III. The Pee Wee Tier III team made it to the quarterfinals while Juneau's Pee Wee Tier IV squad won a game in its state tournament.
For the first time though, a first-place state trophy will be coming to Treadwell Arena.
"It means we're getting better," Foster said. "We are growing. ... You have to take it one step at a time and this is a very good step."
Juneau's Squirts Tier IV team featured Kaipo Tseu, Zach Hebert, Ty Scott, Logan Coleman, Rush Baker, Ike Myskowski, Joe Spencer, McDermott, West, Weston, Cheeseman, Baseden, Spencer and May.
"We loved everybody down here, and the hospitality was excellent, and we were well received," Foster said. "There was a lot of heart from the kids."
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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