Bears go back-to-back in the MAC

JDHS hockey ices Houston for first-ever conference wins

Posted: Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Juneau-Douglas High School hockey team (2-2 MAC, 9-3 overall) broke into the Mid-Alaska Conference win column for the first time ever during its maiden season with a weekend sweep of visiting Houston (0-2 MAC, 3-6 overall). The Bears picked up their first win Friday by a cushy 6-2 margin, and survived a late charge Saturday with a 5-4 win.

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Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire
Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire

Friday night's victory saw the Bears survive some sloppy puck handling and untimely penalties by rallying behind an inspired effort from sophomore goalie Matt Noreen, said Bears coach Dave McKenna. The squad "survived" in style, pulling out the win by four points.

"We actually were even a little more sloppy on Friday," McKenna said. "We had a tough time moving the puck. We're lucky to come out of this with two wins."

Saturday's match started off a little rougher for the Crimson Bears. Houston pushed the puck early in the first period as they held JDHS to just a handful of slapshots from the blue line, despite playing short-handed due to penalties. Once back at a full line, the Hawks took the early lead at the 6:18 mark when Noreen lost the puck off the corner of the net.

Just minutes later, a pileup in front of Noreen saw Houston slip another shot around the blocked goalie to pull ahead 2-0.

The Bears finally got on the board with 3:13 left in the first, when Nolin Ainsworth's unassisted shot from in front of the net slipped through to pull the score to 2-1. JDHS had a power play to end the period but were unable to get the puck out of their own end.

A flurry of penalties kicked off the second period, but the Bears were able to keep the puck in the Hawks' territory and find opportunities. Junior forward Nick Mow eventually followed up his own wayward shot by lobbing a short slapper over the Houston goalie's mitt from 10 feet out to knot up the score at 2-2.

Houston quickly got their full line back, though, and once again began to push the puck and took the lead back with 9:57 left in the second.

Both teams were shorthanded after a pair of penalties just 43 seconds later when Andreas Keller and John Kenyon swung the puck to Mow, who tied the game yet again at 3-3 with his second goal of the night. The score stuck to end the period.

Juneau-Douglas came out with a new burst of energy in the third period as the packed crowd began to pick up the noise. Just 26 seconds in, Keller slipped the puck ahead of a charging Houston defender along the boards in front of the JDHS student section and broke away. Keller went right of the goal, then dove back across to slip in the go-ahead score at 4-3.

The Bears were able to keep most of the action in Houston's end early in the third, and 6-foot-4 sophomore Eric Verelli extended the lead to 5-3 when he knocked in a shot from just left of the net. Senior Chris Klawonn provided the assist.

The JDHS student section made several calls to bring in "the Cheese," sophomore goalie Garrett Cheeseman, when Houston had built it's early lead. Those calls died in the third, though, as Noreen rebuffed a hectic onslaught from Houston's offense.

Houston was able to slip another goal past Noreen at the 7:37 mark, but the sophomore held the door shut the rest of the way, despite the Hawks controlling the puck and heavily out-shooting the Bears for most of the third.

Juneau-Douglas will resume their schedule at home next weekend with a non-conference doubleheader against 3A Tok. As usual, the games will begin at 8 p.m. on Friday and 7 p.m. on Saturday at Treadwell Arena.

"We don't know much about them either, yet," McKenna said. "I know they're a small school who plays spirited hockey. We'll be ready for them."

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