Malachi Lachance

West High senior Malachi Lachance is in his hockey happy place whenever and wherever opponents dislike him most.

At the 1 minute, 37 mark of Friday’s third period, Lachance took ownership of precious ice directly atop South senior goaltender Cole Schmidt’s crease. With that decision, he conducted the dirtiest of work and helped lift the Eagles to the Division I First National Cup state tournament finale.

Lachance scored twice as West secured a pressurized 2-1 victory over the Cook Inlet Conference-rival Wolverines at Wasilla’s Menard Center. The semifinal win positioned the Eagles (18-3-1) for a chance at capturing the program’s fifth state title and fourth since 2015.

The championship appearance is West’s 10th in the 41-year history of the state tournament and second in a row. The Eagles will face Dimond in Saturday’s title tilt. The Lynx surprised Wasilla in the evening’s second semifinal by a 5-3 count.

“I’m going to get some great sleep tonight,” said Lachance, all 5-foot-8ish, 165ish pounds of him. “(Saturday), we’ll get our chance to play our game.”

ASAA Division I First National Cup
At Menard Center, Wasilla
Friday’s Results

Chugiak 5, West Valley 2
Colony 2, Service 1
West 2, South 1
Dimond 5, Wasilla 3
Saturday’s Games
Fourth Place

12:00pm Chugiak (11-8-1) vs. Colony (15-7-1)
Third Place
2:30pm South (12-6-1) vs. Wasilla (17-5-1)
5:00pm West (18-3-1) vs. Dimond (12-6-1)

Lachance’s game is almost all about irritation. He’s not afraid to chirp and throw the body around. Friday’s game winner proved he’ll put his stick anywhere, whatever it takes. Does any of that sound familiar, Boston Bruins fans?

“Teammates and coaches in the past have told me I play like (Boston captain) Brad Marchand,” he said.

Marchand is the NHL’s modern-day “little ball of hate.” Pat Verbeek played under that moniker before Marchand.

“Over the years, I’ve liked getting under people’s skin, that’s my favorite part of the game. Let’s just talk and battle it out. Even the boys on the other teams I know and love, let’s bring our A games and have that battle.”

South senior Keiveri Schutt converted freshman Vance Schmidt’s brilliant drop pass for the game’s opening goal at 5:51 of the first period. Lachance’s second-chance backhander barely snuck through Schmidt to tie the contest at 13:08 of the second. Seniors Evan Fitzgerald and Oliver Circosta earned the assists.

“I was surprised more than anyone out there,” Lachance said.

West goalie Gunnar Bergo made 15 saves. Photo by Bryan Boyett/Alaska Sports Report

The teams entered the third and it was easy to sense blood pressures rising throughout the arena. West with 12 cheerleaders and South with 16 joined the student sections to make more noise as the final period started.

Moments into the third, the puck and bodies commenced on Schmidt’s crease. As defenders tied up Lachance, Circosta appeared to get in a good whack from near the right post. Referee Josh Ellis smartly hovered over the back of the net to get a good view as no whsitle sounded and the puck eventually slithered past Schmidt.

The question of Schmidt’s covering of the puck with his glove or Lachance potentially interfering with said glove go into the Alaska high school hockey history abyss unanswered.

Officials credited the goal to Lachance, unassisted.

“I don’t know about your vantage point, but I had a pretty clean angle of seeing Schmidty’s glove going right over (the puck),” said second-year South coach Daniel Ramsey. “That’s what I saw but clearly they didn’t see it that way.”

South’s loss ended its seven-game winning streak. But the Wolverines achievements shouldn’t be ignored. They struggled through a horrid December stretch before rebounding to win last week’s CIC tournament for the eighth time.

West’s Oliver Circosta rips a shot. Photo by Bryan Boyett/Alaska Sports Report

Schmidt was otherworldly in the eight games, Friday and during the seven-game win streak. He stopped 145 of 150 shots (.967 save percentage) during the run and played every bit like a goalie who’d only be beaten on the greasiest of goals.

“Cole is the heart of this team and the reason we’re here,” said South junior defenseman Gordon Jennings, son of two-time Stanley Cup champion Grant Jennings. “He really held it down and played his best.”

West lost last season’s state final to Chugiak, 3-0. Lachance scored one of the Mustangs’ goals. It’s been an interesting high school ride for him. He played at Service as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to Chugiak for his junior season. He joined West for this season.

The Alaska School Activities Association and especially the Anchorage School District are, shall we say, loose with allowing transfers. When asked about his movement, Lachance respectfully answered for himself.

“I’ve had a lot of real family problems and hockey has always really helped me cope,” he said. “I moved away from some family and over to the West side. It was hard to do.

“It’s all pretty weird. I love those Chugiak guys. They really made me feel at home.”

But now he’s with West, one of 11 seniors poised to make history.

“I’m with this new family now,” Lachance said.



Senior Fischer Sims and junior Blake Yawit were two of four Mustangs named to the all-Cook Inlet Conference team last week. Friday, the duo each produced three points (goal, two assists) as Chugiak rolled past West Valley in the consolation semifinals.

Chugiak improved to 11-8-1 and will enter its last day as defending First National Cup champs in Saturday’s fourth-place game at noon. Senior goalie River Scott finished with 22 saves.

West Valley senior John Sauer scored a goal and an assist. The Wolfpack, in a co-op with Lathrop, completed their season at 4-12-1.



Senior Aidan Finch’s goal 2:59 into the third period made the difference in Colony’s 2-1 win over Service in the consolation semifinals.

The Knights (15-7-1) will compete against Chugiak for fourth place on Saturday.

Finch also assisted junior Jacob Seward-Jenski’s first-period score. Goalie Jamon O’Bryan stopped 17 shots.

Sophomore Richard Webb tallied Service’s goal in the final minute. Junior goalie Orion Hunter made 24 saves. The Cougars finished the season 6-16-0, losing their final six games and 10 of 11.

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