Juneau-Douglas inched above .500 on the year with a 5-2 win over visiting Delta Junction, improving a to 4-3 after completing a successful weekend sweep of the Huskies at Treadwell Arena.
But the win didn't come easily. Juneau-Douglas rallied twice from one-goal deficits, scoring three goals in less than two minutes to blow open a 2-2 tie over the second half of the final period to ice the Huskies.
Juneau-Douglas freshman Zach Easton led the charge, scoring the first two JDHS goals, and assisting on two more, including the go-ahead score by sophomore Dillon Tomaro at the 7:02-mark of the third period.
Easton said the Bears came out a little flat, especially after the way JDHS handled Delta Junction 9-1 on Friday.
"We didn't have the intensity we had (Friday) but in the end, we pulled together and pulled a win out of it," he said. "I just kind of got angry (because of the slow start), and wanted the goals for the team."
Bears coach Dave McKenna agreed.
"I think they showed up with a little more intensity physically, and it took us a little while to respond," he said. "We did, and we eventually came around. It was good character win for us."
Less than a minute later, senior Matthew Whistler put the Bears up two, 4-2, with assists to senior Ben Peyton and Easton.
At the 5:06-mark, junior Derek Oliver blasted a shot from the blue line for an insurance score. Sophomore Tod Baseden and senior Eric Verrelli assisted on the final goal.
The teams played to a first-period stalemate, with each getting a couple of nice looks at the goal. JDHS senior Peyton Millay had Delta Junction goalie Harold Probert 1-on-1 at about the 3:30-mark, but Probert came up with a tough save.
Delta Junction's Donovan Drew flipped a shot in at the 7:27-mark of the second period for the first score of the game, giving the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
The Crimson Bears tied things up three minutes later after Easton's first score, with an assist from junior Jordann Russell.
But Delta Junction re-took the lead less than 40 seconds later with a goal from Brett Smith, pushing Delta Junction back out front, 2-1. Both Huskie goals were unassisted.
Easton came through to tie the game again with an assist from Verrelli just 12 seconds before the end of the second period. Probert came up with a save on the first shot, but Verrelli shot the rebound to Easton right in front of the goal for score.
Delta Junction outshot JDHS 26-22. Crimson Bears goalie Griffin Bozarth and Probert each had 21 saves.
McKenna said it was a good weekend for JDHS going forward.
"It's not so much the record that matters as the fact that we're getting a chance to move the puck stick-to-stick," he said. "Playing against some faster teams, we've not really gotten the chance to get our feet under us. So the weekend was good as a whole for us."
JDHS is out of action until Hutchison visits Dec. 3-4.
Bears roll 9-1 Friday
The Juneau-Douglas hockey team was looking to rebound after two difficult losses to Soldotna at Treadwell Arena last weekend, and it did that in a big way.
The Crimson Bears (3-3) scored four goals in the first period and five in the second as they wiped out Delta Junction 9-1 on Friday night. Three different JDHS players scored two goals apiece, and the Bears outshot the Huskies 31-13 in a dominating home performance.
JDHS sophomore Dillon Tomaro scored two goals in his return to the ice, and he said the biggest difference Friday night was the team's execution of what it worked on during practice.
"We broke out better, we broke out wider and got it up the boards. They kept stopping us when we came up the center last time (against Soldotna)," he said. "It feels good to win at home. We really worked on the things we practiced, and that will only make us stronger in the long run."
One week after head coach Dave McKenna said the Bears committed too many penalties against Soldotna, Juneau-Douglas was guilty for only two infractions Friday night. Assistant coach Matt Boline said it was a focus in practice to eliminate the unnecessary penalties caused by improper checking.
"An hour and a half of dry-land checking (in practice) really worked well," he said. "We had a lot of guys finishing checks up high (against Soldotna) with elbows and hands and sticks, and then we didn't receive checks well. We were really getting knocked off the puck."
Boline also stressed the importance of getting more shots off and playing more effectively on offense.
"We told the guys before the game we need more shots," Boline said. "The team that outshoots the other team is going to win the game, and they showed us what that looks like."
The Huskies scored first less than two minutes into the game, but the Bears responded with authority about 30 seconds later with the first goal of Eric Verrelli's two-score night, the second coming less than three minutes later to make the score 2-1. Cole Carnahan scored his first goal of the evening with 4:25 left in the first period to make it 3-0, but it was his second score mid-way through the second that left the crowd on its feet.
Carnahan controlled the puck outside the left drop circle and fired a slap shot by Delta Junction goalie Harold Probert and into the upper-left corner to make the score 5-1 following a Bill Holbrook score at the end of the first period. That marked the beginning of a second-period onslaught for the Crimson Bears.
Including Carnahan's second goal, Juneau-Douglas scored four goals in less than three minutes late in the second, and the Bears capped the scoring after the second of Tomaro's goals with 26 seconds left in the period.
"We did a lot of things right. One of the reasons we scored nine goals in the first two periods is everyone is moving their feet and doing what we practiced," Boline said. "We struggled with that last weekend. We weren't doing what we practiced, we weren't moving our feet, and now we see what happens when we do."