Juneau-Douglas High School hockey coach Dave McKenna doesn't know much about the 3A team from Tok High School. That is, except his team regarded the smaller school lightly last season and took an embarrassing loss.
"I think we overlooked them last year. We had some problems with consistency last season, though, and (this year's team) is a pretty focused group," McKenna said. "They don't have a lot of kids in terms of numbers, but they had some really good hockey players."
Juneau-Douglas and Tok will hit the ice tonight at 8, with the weekend's second game coming Saturday at 7 p.m.
The break from their Mid-Alaska Conference schedule finds the Crimson Bears (2-2 MAC, 9-3 overall) fresh off their first two wins as a member of the 4A division. There's little chance for over-confidence, though, when the squad has so much to improve on in the arena, according to McKenna.
"We've been working a lot on our passing and trying to be more accurate, to moving the puck along quickly," he said. "We want to change the way we're looking at the game a little bit."
Juneau-Douglas got plenty of breakaways against Houston last weekend that fizzled when the defense stopped the puck before a pass was made. That is exactly what McKenna is hoping to change in his team - starting with how they think.
"As a group we've been playing an individual game instead of thinking about where the puck's going before we get it. We just get it and go instead," he said. "We're capable of being a better hockey team than I think even the kids realize if we start getting quick and smart puck movement."
One thing is certain against Tok (3-1 Greatland Conference, 3-2 overall), Garrett Cheesman will be the sophomore in the net for JDHS. Not that McKenna has split up the two-headed monster of classmates he has cycled at goalie this season, but Matt Noreen will be out of town with his family.
"I'm hoping things we're working on in practice will show up in games. If that's the case, we're ready to play some good hockey," McKenna said.