The Juneau-Douglas High School opened the End of the Road Shootout in style Thursday, downing the Homer Mariners7-0 and keeping their emotions in check along the way.
Senior Albert Svensson led the way on offense for the Crimson Bears, picking up a pair of assists in the first period and adding a goal of his own in the second.
Head coach Dave McKenna singled out the even-keeled emotions of his team as the deciding factor in the game. Homer racked up 10 penalties as the action got rough early, while JDHS escaped with none.
"They showed a lot of composure and unselfishness out there. There were a few more checks that could have been penalties and they were able to put the team first," McKenna said. "We worked on that a lot last year and I think it's a sign of good leadership."
McKenna was quick to point out, though, that every game is still different for his team at this point in the year and a few calls gone the other way could have led to his team picking up all the penalties.
The Juneau-Douglas squad wasn't sure what to expect against the Mariners this season after fighting through some tight contests last season.
"I know they had a couple of really talented seniors who graduated and this is sort of a building year for them. That shouldn't take away from what our kids were able to do tonight," McKenna said.
The Bears outshot Homer 38-7, but McKenna added that he was still impressed with the focus of sophomore goalie Garrett Cheesman.
"He didn't really get tested tonight, but sometimes it's tough when you don't see a shot for so long and then they're coming at you," he said. "He showed a lot of composure himself back there."
Junior Chris Budbill kicked off the scoring early in the first off assists from Swiss exchange student Andreas Keller and Svensson. Fellow junior Zane Chapman followed shortly after with a helper from classmate Jake Earnes. Keller eventually closed out the first with a score of his own with help from Svensson and sophomore Eric Verrelli.
The onslaught continued in the second as senior Josh Mayer found the net off a pass from Budbill. Junior Robin Woodby pushed the score to 5-0 with an unassisted netter, and his classmate Nick Mow followed with a hand from sophomore Cole Carnahan. Svensson closed out the game and the scoring late in the second with his own unassisted score.
JDHS will next face Tri-Valley tonight at 5 p.m. in End of the Road action before meeting Glennallen at noon on Saturday. Both opponents are from the 3A division.
"They're smaller schools and they don't have as many kids, but they're not going to give us anything," McKenna said. "We still have some work cut out for us. Hopefully we can keep this confidence that we've built up over the past week."
Thursday's victory may have come with some momentum gained in Wednesday night's 3-2 squeaker over Kenai.
Verrelli opened the scoring in that game off an assist from Keller, and Kenai matched to close the opening period in a tie.
Keller then lifted JDHS again off a long cross-ice pass from Nolin Ainsworth. The Bears held the lead for most of the period until Kenai knotted it up again on a power play with just 50 seconds left in the stanza.
A back-and-forth defensive struggle ensued in the third, until Chapman put Juneau-Douglas ahead for good with six minutes left. Svensson and Keller provided the helpers on the winning goal.
Cheesman picked up 31 saves in front of the net for Juneau-Douglas in the contest.
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