It was the final series of a 10-game homestand at Treadwell Arena, so Juneau-Douglas needed to pick up a couple of wins before taking on Mid-Alaska Conference powerhouses West Valley and North Pole.
Trever Held made sure it happened.
The senior scored two goals in the first two periods to lead the Crimson Bears to a 3-1 win over Homer on Saturday night to push Juneau-Douglas' record to 7-6 on the season.
"Tonight we just kept a firm pace going the whole time," Held said. "It was a real team effort out there."
Held got the scoring started in the first period with only two minutes remaining before intermission, capitalizing off an assist from sophomore Dillon Tomaro and freshman Zach Easton.
But after Homer's Erik Rosencrans intercepted the puck near the Bears' blue line and broke out for an unassisted, short-handed goal to knot the game at 1-1, Held responded quickly with his second goal of the game just three minutes later.
Easton once again found Held streaking down the ice and the senior did the rest, deking Homer goalie Alex Sanarov on a left-to-right move to put the Bears back on top 2-1.
"I got two goals in the game, but you look at those goals and they both came off assists. Everybody was playing prime," Held said. "Everybody was doing what they were supposed to tonight."
Assistant coach Luke Adams said this was a much-needed win against a difficult opponent, especially with the level of competition that awaits them on the road.
"It was a character win for us this weekend. We always play those guys tough and it's always a physical game," he said. "Our players kept their heads and we ended up putting the puck in the net. Like I said, it's a good team victory."
As for Held's performance, Adams said it came at the right time with two of the team's top players - junior Billy Holbrook and sophomore Tod Baseden - out of the lineup attending an Alaska select team tryout in Anchorage.
"Trever has really been building up. He's having his best game over and over as we continue through the season," he said. "He's showing a lot of leadership because he's been cool and calm, really showing the younger players how we want our future to be."
Juneau-Douglas sophomore Logan Hulse put the game away in the third period with a put-back score off an assist from senior Cole Carnahan and sophomore Connor Brown. The Bears' defense stifled the Mariners, and Garret Cheeseman continued his strong play as Juneau-Douglas kept Homer at bay the rest of the night.
Cheeseman stopped 30 of 31 shots on the night, only giving up a goal on Rosencrans' breakaway score. Sanarov stopped 27 of 30 shots for Homer.
The Bears have a difficult road ahead of them before returning home to play Houston on Jan. 21. Up next for Juneau-Douglas is North Pole and West Valley, teams that handled the Bears last season.
Held said he and his teammates realize the challenge that lies ahead, but are very confident with the way they're currently playing.
"We've got tough teams coming up and we're looking to get into the playoffs. Our goal is to make it to state this year," he said. "We're more ready than ever now, especially coming off of this game against a hard-hitting team.
Bears blank Mariners on Friday
Bears blank Mariners on Friday
By SHAUN T. COX
After nearly 25 minutes of scoreless hockey Friday at Treadwell Arena, the Crimson Bears got two quick goals in less than a minute and a half, and Juneau-Douglas held on for a 2-0 shutout of Homer in the weekend series opener.
"It's been a rivalry for a while and it's always been a well-matched pairing," JDHS coach Dave McKenna said. "They always give us a good fight and it was a good win for us."
Juneau-Douglas controlled the puck for most of the first period, getting several good looks at the back of the net. But Homer goalie Alex Sanarov held his ground, coming up with save after save, including two on shots by Crimson Bears junior forward Trever Held while JDHS was trying to take advantage during a power play.
Juneau-Douglas finally drew first blood with 5:17 to go in the second period. Senior defender Eric Verrelli scored right in front of the net off assists from sophomore defender Tod Baseden and junior forward Billy Holbrook.
"Billy got (the puck) right to my stick and I looked up and I was open," Verrelli said of his goal, his sixth of the season. "It was a great game, fast-paced, and we kept our feet moving. Good passes and good shots, we had a lot of them."
The Bears' second goal came after Held broke free around center ice and sprinted toward the goal, juked and laced a shot past the glove of a diving Sanarov at the 3:52-mark to make it 2-0.
"That one, I saw a guy had the point so I took him out and left the puck," Verrelli said. "Trever took it, skated all the way down and backhanded it in. It was a great shot, and he's the fastest skater on the team - a great skater."
McKenna credited Sanarov, who had 23 saves.
"They have a really strong goaltender and we had to work to get pucks by him," he said. "Our forecheck was working really well for us so we were able to get them back on their heels for a while. But it was nice to see our older guys step up and get some big goals for us. I'm proud of what they did out there. We have so few home games left it's nice to see these guys play well."
Senior Garret Cheeseman was unyielding in goal for the Bears, finishing with 30 saves on 30 shots, including a couple of crucial saves in the third period when the Mariners were looking to take advantage of a power play to get on the board.
"Garret's always a hard worker back there and always solid," McKenna said. "Sometimes the bounces are tough to take when they don't go your way but tonight, he had a great game."
JDHS is back in action in an alumni game on Dec. 27 at Treadwell Arena, and the Bears' JV will face Mat Su Valley's varsity on Jan. 7.