The Crimson Bears hockey team was tested over the weekend in Anchorage, and coach Dave McKenna found out he's got a pretty good team.
Juneau-Douglas posted a 2-1 record in three games against Cook Inlet schools Colony, Bartlett and Eagle River, and McKenna said it was a good way to start the season.
After defeating Colony 2-1 on Thursday and knocking off Bartlett 6-1 on Friday, the Bears couldn't get their offense going in a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Eagle River.
"We got better as the game went along, but I think we had a case of some tired legs," McKenna said. "They were a good, fast team. They did a good job of spreading out and moving the puck.
"We were either a little tentative or a little tired; one or the other."
Prior to that game, the Bears put on a dominant performance against Bartlett on Friday. JDHS went into the intermission after the first period with a commanding 4-0 lead and never looked back. Senior forward Matthew Whistler scored two goals, while junior defender Derek Oliver pitched in with two assists.
Senior goalkeeper Garret Cheeseman denied nearly every Bears' shot with 23 saves on the night, and teammates Eric Verrelli, Tod Baseden, Trever Held and Logan Hulse each added a goal in the Bears' blowout victory.
Despite the loss to Eagle River, McKenna said it was a good early-season weekend for the Bears. He said he liked the way the team came out and played hard so early in the season.
"It wasn't our best, but the trip was good. We're not quite in game shape yet, but I thought a lot of our guys played well," he said. "We had some good intensity right from the drop of the first puck, and we had good, unselfish play and fast puck movement. So we know we can play at a high level - it's just a matter of moving forward from here."
McKenna said it will take time to get his team in the right condition for the season ahead. As far as the players on the ice, he said there were several individuals who made their marks.
"Matthew Whistler had a really good weekend, and so did Ben Peyton," he said. "Guys that are usually role players stepped it up a notch when we were having a tough time. So that was a huge plus."
The JV team also opened its season in Anchorage over the weekend, and after a 5-0 win against Colony, they fell to Service and Dimond to begin the year 1-2.
"The JV players played some really tough teams in Service and Dimond," McKenna said. "And those guys were getting better with every shift. It's been a good trip for the program, and it's definitely a step in the right direction.
"You hate to lose games against teams you should be able to compete with, but it was a good effort for starting out on the road and having to deal with a lot of travel."
Both the JV and varsity are back home as they take the ice Friday against Soldotna at Treadwell Arena. The JV skates at 2 p.m. with the varsity dropping the puck at 8 p.m.
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