Juneau Capitals win the State Championship in Kenai

    The 10u division of the Juneau Capitals won the State Championship in Kenai Sunday. (Photo courtesy of head coach Alec Venechuk)

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau Capitals gave it their best shot at the 12 U A tournament. Meanwhile, in the 10 U A tournament, the Juneau Capitals won. (Updated with pictures and story about Juneau 10u A win in Kenai.)

    Jamie Troxel is the team manager for Juneau 12 U.

    She gave a rundown on how the Juneau Capitals played at Treadwell Arena. They were eliminated during the semifinals. 

    "We battled Fairbanks on day one and we beat Fairbanks three to zero which was a huge win, a big confidence booster for them. Then we played a really hard Anchorage team, and we were a little scared about that. But we came out on top, we won that, and they just kept the momentum going," Troxel said. "We got a chance to battle Fairbanks once again, the same team, the Grizzlies, and the Grizzlies just had us. It was a really exciting game; it was two on two into the third. So, we had to go into overtime, and it was whoever shot first won. We had some really close calls and unfortunately, Grizzlies just shot it in before us." 

    Troxel gave a shout-out to two players in particular.

    "Our goalie Dylan Miller did an amazing job protecting the net, he had a lot of really good saves," she said. "Also, I want to give a shout-out to Ryker Nelson. He just really stood out to me as being a really strong leader for our team, staying positive, giving handshakes to the refs, and lifting his teammates up if they were feeling a little bit down. I feel like he really stood up as team captain."

    On Sunday, the Grizzlies of Fairbanks went up against the Mustangs of Eagle River.

    The Mustangs experienced the same thing the Juneau Capitals did with the Grizzlies- they tied at the end of the third and went into overtime, with whoever got the puck in a goal first winning.

    Below: Number 6, Drake Jones of the Grizzlies finally made the winning shot. (Photo credit Jasz Garrett/KINY)

    Below: The Mustangs and Grizzlies high-five each other at the end of their game. (Photo credit Jasz Garrett/KINY)

    Monday the State Championships were held at Treadwell Arena between Hockey Club Fairbanks and the Grizzlies.

    Hockey Club Fairbanks came out on top and won the 12 U A State Championship.

    Throughout the weekend, there was a total of 11 hockey teams playing from across Alaska at Treadwell.

    Admission was free and concessions were for sale. The game started at 10 am.

    For a lot of the people participating in the tournament, it's their first time in Juneau. Troxel says hosting the tournament here helps boost Juneau's revenue and just gets the energy going at Treadwell again after the pandemic.

    "Considering our Juneau team splits itself into two every week and plays against each other, they did an amazing job. These teams up North get to compete more often," Troxel said. 

    The Juneau team had 15 players on their roster for the state tournament this weekend while most teams had 20.

    She added that hosting the tournament locally saves the Juneau hockey team money since they are usually the ones traveling.

    Speaking of which, Sunday the Juneau 10u team won the State Championship in Kenai.

    They break youth hockey up into separate age divisions.

    The 12u A consists of 11-12-year-olds, while the 10u A is 9-10 year olds, although Juneau Capitals 10u also has one 8 year old player.

    Alec Venechuk is the Juneau 10u A Team coach. He detailed their win of the State Championship.

    "We played six games in three days up in Kenai. Our first game was against the Kenai Ice Hawks. Our second game was against the Palmer Pioneers. We won both of those. On the second day of the tournament, we faced off against Hockey Club, Fairbanks and tied them three three in a real hard fought battle. Our fourth game was against the Alaska Avalanche from Wasilla. We beat them eight to one," Venechuk said. "That put us into the semi-finals on Sunday, where we played the Grizzlies from Fairbanks, we beat them five to zero. That put us in the championship game Sunday afternoon against Hockey Club Fairbanks again, and our kids came out on top five to three. They battled really hard, gave it their all and I'm just super proud of them. Everybody was flying around the ice, grinding for pucks and battling. Really, they just came together as a team and just played wonderfully."

    Venechuk gave details for the hockey season.

    "We have 10 players on this team and they all start the season a little shy around each other but they really became great friends throughout the year. It was a wonderful group to coach. The parents were excellent. Just a lot of fun to be around. In the championship game our goalie Oscar Nelson, stopped 16 out of 19 shots and a lot of them were really high quality saves that he put out there. Mitch Host, one of our players scored a hat trick in the third period alone and that's really what put us over the top. But really, it was a complete team effort," he said. "Everybody was just working their tails off and and I couldn't be more proud of every single one of them. So my hat goes off to all these kids, they just worked all year long and and just really came together."

    One thing that's important to note is this wasn't the only championship this team won.

    They went to three tournaments this year; a Thanksgiving tournament in Anchorage back in November and the kids won there.

    This group also went to the Grizz Cup in Salt Lake City in January. They won the championship at that tournament.

    This state championship won in Kenai was their third trip out of town.

    Troxel and Venechuk encourage people of any age to join Juneau's hockey team by going to their website.

    "Anybody that wants to try hockey or play hockey is welcome to pick it up for the spring season. We do have some gear bags that are available for rent and for use," Venechuk said. "We just require that each player registers with USA Hockey and then with JDIA Association as well."

    Above and below: The Juneau Capitals play in the 12 U A tournament (in black and red). Photos courtesy of Jamie Troxel.

    Below: Pictures from the Juneau Capitals 10u A team's win in Kenai. Photos courtesy of Alec Venechuk.

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