Staunch defense and sharp shots earned Chugiak/Eagle River a 3-1 win and a spot in the girls state championship game in Friday’s semifinal matchup against Colony/Palmer.
The team’s defensive trio of freshmen Kyra Walter, Reece Dutton and Alder Niederer, anchored by senior Myla Lubken, was tough to get through – and Lubken packs a powerful long-range shot that makes her dangerous from the blue line too.
Niederer said the line worked to prevent the offense from taking shots in their zone.
“We had to definitely be better on D because you can’t let anyone behind you,” added Dutton, who said “doing anything to protect (goalie) Maddy” motivated their line.
That motivation paid off, as goalie Maddy Derleth faced just 17 shots through the game.
The team now tackles Dimond/West – who’s gone undefeated in conference, CIC tournament, and state tournament play so far – in the state championship game at 1:15 p.m.
Girls State Hockey Tournament
At Ben Boeke
Kenai Peninsula 2, Service/East 1
Dimond/West 7, Houston/Wasilla 4
Chugiak/Eagle River 3, Colony/Palmer 1
9:45am Kenai Peninsula vs. South/Bartlett
11:30am Houston/Wasilla vs. Colony/Palmer
1:15pm Dimond/West vs. Chugiak/Eagle River
Colony/Palmer was a formidable opponent, with Makena Delucia, Sienna Skogstad and Morgan Gallagher putting up strong defensive fights, and efforts by Kendall Ketchum, Madi Bigelow, Skogstad and Gallagher to find the back of the net. Goalie Mily Christman saved 18 of 21 shots.
“I think we could have done a lot better with our passing and like getting open. And I think definitely talking and picking our heads up,” said Gallagher after the game.
Colony/Palmer is part of the team normally known as the Mat-Su Ravens during conference play. The Ravens split into two rosters for the state tournament due to more players being available than expected, and now Colony/Palmer will take on its other half – Houston/Wasilla – in the third-place game tomorrow at 11:30 a.m.
“It’ll be weird, but fun,” said coach Hailey Keil.
“Whoever wins, the Wasilla area’s still getting third place,” added Gallagher.
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s championship game, Niederer, Dutton and Walter agreed that they’re in an exciting place to be able to play for a title as freshmen.
“My teammates really drive me,” said Walter.
Chugiak/Eagle River was first on the scoreboard four minutes into the first period on an unassisted goal from Kendra Comer. Lubken sunk a shot from the top of the left face-off circle to make it 2-0 with just under four minutes to go in the first, assisted by Blake Phillips and Brie Mahoney.
Colony/Palmer’s only goal came with 4:14 left in the second period, with Skogstad capitalizing on a pass from Ketchum. The third period saw another goal from Lubken on an assist from Niederer.
Dimond/West 7, Houston/Wasilla 4
Tana Carlson and Sienna Kowal each bagged two goals and goalie Siena Lardizabel made 31 saves as the Anchorage team won to advance to the tournament title game.
Carlson furnished a four-point night and scored the game’s first goal as Dimond/West built a 7-1 lead through two periods.
Kowal scored both her goals in a 94-second span.
Elizabeth Sharpe and Renee Doyle each had one goal and two assists. Lardizabel faced 35 shots, including 23 in the third period.
Josie Hull’s hat trick highlighted the offense while Jacey Matson also found the back of the net. Matson added three assists for a four-point night.
Kenai Peninsula 2, Serice/East 1
Kacey Cunningham flirted with a shutout and Grace Hallam’s goal early in the third period proved to be the game winner in consolation action.
After a scoreless first period, Keira Larson scored on an assist from Ekaterina Moseley to give Kenai Peninsula a 1-0 lead entering the second intermission.
Three minutes into the third period, Hallam scored on a feed from Kyleigh Gattney to make it 2-0.
Cunningham made 15 saves but lost her shutout bid with 1 seconds left in the game after Lyliana Bradbury scored on an assist from Anika Newhouse.