Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau-Douglas High School Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears hockey team fell by the score of 4-2 to the Palmer Moose on Monday night at Treadwell Arena in a spirited and physical Railbelt Conference battle around the rink.
“That was a lot of emotion in that game,” Crimson Bears coach Luke Adams said. “But we knew that was coming. They are a good team. Palmer is a good team. Once again, we are trying to get that momentum. The kids know we have to come back tomorrow.”
Palmer scored the games first three goals. Moose freshman Elijah Von Gunten scored unassisted at 2:50 of the first period; senior Carter Greco scored at 11:45 of the second period, assisted by junior Gavin Gore and senior Jeremy Horacek; and senior Bryce Armstrong scored at 8:02 of the second period, assisted by Von Gunten.
The Crimson Bears found a spark with two goals in a 30 second span in the second period to cut the lead to one, 3-2.
JDHS senior Andre Peirovi scored unassisted at 4:30 and senior Joey Meier scored 20 seconds later assisted by senior Sam Bovitz.
JDHS junior goalie Brayden Baxter stopped 26 shots on goal. Palmer senior goalie Joshua Horacek stopped 17 shots.
“A lot of good emotion on our side,” Adams said. “But at times we channeled it the wrong way. Took some penalties. Kind of got engaged in battles that didn’t help us. Some of the physical stuff after the whistle wasn’t helping us but our kids put everything they had out on the ice. Just fell a little short again. We were definitely in the fight and we have a lot of young kids getting a lot of big time ice time. So a lot of growth potential in these losses.”
Senior Dylan Murdoch was credited for keeping the Crimson Bears emotions controlled in the physical game but not backing down to the Moose skaters. Coach Luke Adams credited Murdoch and his senior class for their play.
“He’s kind of the guy that when you ask if somebody can help out and do something, play a position, he is going to be the first guy to raise his hand,” Adams said. “We know we can count on him in a lot of situations. He plays with a lot of physicality and a lot of emotion too, so sometimes we have to reel him back in so he doesn’t channel it the wrong way but he does a great job for us and we are really proud of him.”
JDHS will play Palmer again at 3:15 Tuesday. The Crimson Bears are in the middle of a playoff push.
“It’s not really clear at this point,” Adams said. “Right now we are fighting for an At-Large berth. But more important than that is we are just trying to get some momentum heading into the post season.”
The six best teams in Division II hockey are in the Railbelt Conference. Kenai is at the top with an 8-2 record in conference, Houston is 5-2, Soldotna 5-3, Homer 5-5, Palmer 4-3, JDHS 2-6 and Kodiak 0-8. The top four teams earn automatic berths in the state tourney. The next two are At-Large considerations.
“It’s a tough conference to play in but we like it that way,” Adams said. “It brings out the best in everybody. We are hoping to get some momentum and try to give a better effort tomorrow. See if we can get on the other side of the score sheet.”
In the DII Aurora Conference, North Pole is at top with a 3-1 record, Tri-Valley is 1-1, Monroe 1-2 and Delta 1-2. The top two teams earn automatic berths in the state tourney.
Two At-Large berths will be awarded to the remaining teams in both conferences. Strength of schedule favors the JDHS Crimson Bears.
Houston comes to Treadwell Arena on Friday and Saturday for Crimson Bears senior night.
Above - JDHS junior Brandon Campbell and Palmer freshman Elijah Von Gunten collide during the Crimson Bears 4-2 loss to the Moose on Monday at Treadwell Arena. (Klas Stolpe)