Joseph Hampton

When all was said and done Friday, everything timed out tremendously for senior defenseman Joseph Hampton and the rest of the Dimond Lynx.

To be honest, the night’s Division I First National Cup state hockey semifinal doubleheader didn’t need more spine-tingling theatrics. Yet Dimond and Wasilla couldn’t help themselves. The teams traded two third-period goals each before Hampton teed up and teed off on the game-winning score with seconds remaining.

Hampton connected for only his third goal of the season at 14 minutes, 42 seconds of the third period. The Lynx added an empty netter and eventually downed the Warriors 5-3 at the Menard Center.

Dimond takes a 12-6-1 record into the program’s 21st state title-game appearance late Saturday afternoon when it will face a test it’s yet to pass this season against West. The Eagles claimed a 2-1 victory over South in the first semifinal. They’ve hammered the Lynx three times already this season by a combined score of 19-5. West beat Dimond 5-2 in the Cook Inlet Conference tournament’s third-place game last Friday.

“Three times and three losses,” said Dimond senior goaltender Zoie Campbell, who stopped 17 Wasilla shots in the semifinal. “West is a skilled team. We are going to have to find some real teamwork and make sure to communicate.”

Campbell is one Dimond’s 13 seniors. She stressed the importance of staying in the moment.

“We have to treat (Saturday) like any other game,” Campbell said. “A major relief tonight, a bit stunned we did it (Friday). But I knew we had it in us.”

Photo by Bryan Boyett/Alaska Sports Report

With his team clinging to a 3-2 lead, legendary Lynx coach Dennis Sorenson called timeout at the 8:49 mark of the third. Dimond relies heavily on its top offensive line of seniors Joe Christiansen (three assists), Andrew Sturgeon (two goals) and Caden San Juan (goal, assist). The trio and all of the forwards needed a breather.

Wasilla senior Mason Holler snuck a shot from the left circle through Campbell a mere 16 seconds out of the timeout. Holler’s goal tied the game, 3-3.

“We gave the puck away,” said Sorenson, who earned his 628th career win in his 33rd season. “I took the timeout; my guys were tired. Wasilla is a strong physical team, and we also had a strong, physical (quarterfinal) game against Colony (on Thursday).

“(The turnover) cost us a goal.”

Enter Hampton minutes later. He’s about as quiet and unassuming as can be.

Christiansen started behind the Dimond net with about a minute to play. He weaved his way through the neutral zone and into the Wasilla zone along the right wing. He tried a centering pass that hit off a Warriors’ stick. The puck found its way to Hampton, who surged in from the right point.

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

Chugiak 5, West Valley 2
Colony 2, Service 1
Semifinals
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)
Championship
5:00pm West (18-3-1) vs. Dimond (12-6-1)

“I was coming off the bench, saw the puck pop out and figured there was an opening, and I might as well take it,” said Hampton, one of six defensemen named to the all-CIC squad last week.

Hampton stepped into his shot and beat Wasilla goalie Bodey Davis (35 saves) to the short side inside the near right post.

“I threw the Hail Mary there,” Hampton said. “It’s one of the better shots I’ve had this season and was absolutely electric once I got a hold of it.”

Wasilla called its timeout after Hampton’s blast. Only 17.6 seconds remained on the clock.

“Simply had to remind them the game is not over yet,” Sorenson said.

Dimond’s Reid Carlson scored Dimond’s first goal. Photo by Bryan Boyett/Alaska Sports Report

Wasilla (17-5-1) was hoping to advance to its third state championship game. It finished second in 1989 and to Dimond in 2022. Warriors head coach Jacob Dargis wants his team to remain proud of the season’s accomplishments regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s third-place game versus South.

“Every time we’ve played Dimond (over the years), it’s a challenge that could go either way,” Dargis said. “We came out on the wrong end of things (Friday), but it was fun.

“Our team understands that it didn’t come out on top. But the players also know they didn’t leave anything on the table.”

Saturday night, Dimond competes for its 10th state title. West shoots for its fifth. The teams met in the championship game in 2018 (Dimond 4, West 2) and 2010 (West 2, Dimond 0).

“We have a good group here,” Hampton said of Dimond. “We’ve seen in the last two games, we can come out and turn it on. We just have to go out and play like we did (Friday). Our game.”

 

ONE-TIMERS
  • Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary of the release of “Miracle,” the Disney movie version of the 1980 U.S. men’s hockey team’s incredible run to the Olympic gold medal. The 4-3 win over the then-Soviet Union in the real-life tournament semifinals is almost without argument the greatest upset in sports’ history. Lest we forget the film’s direct connection to Alaska and high school hockey. A 1996 Service graduate, Nathan West portrayed Rob McClanahan in “Miracle.” A goaltender back in the day, West helped lead the Cougars to the state championship on Feb. 29, 1996, with 27 saves in a 6-1 victory over East and Stanley Cup champion Scott Gomez. An estimated 3,000 fans watched that game at Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena. Years later and still today, “Miracle” is beloved and considered a motivating source of movie magic in nearly all walks of life.
  • If you’re of a certain age, the Menard Center’s DJ never lets you down. Already the perfect venue for a high school hockey tournament, it never hurts to hear a little KISS, Metallica, Motley Crue and Queen. A nice Menard touch this season at Menard is the 2024 Arctic Winter Games logo and its bright blue, purple and green painted at center ice. The circumpolar sport competition for northern and arctic athletes, the Arctic Winters are slated to begin March 10 in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.
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