Homer’s U12 Pee Wee hockey team’s hard work has been paying off, as the team is currently 8-0-1 and has won three tournaments during the 2016-17 season. The Pee Wee team took first place at the Peninsula Power Play tournament in Kenai, Turkey Shootout in Anchorage, and Big Lake Hard Ice Classic in Wasilla.
Coach Steve Nevak and assistant coach Matt Stineff credit the group of highly skilled players and the excellent coaching staff at all levels of Homer youth hockey, whose home base is Kevin Bell Arena on the Spit.
“It seems that Homer falls into this thing where we have a really skilled group of players,” Nevak said. “We only have 12 or 13 on the team and all the coaches … are really good for a small town so while we have a small population we have really good players. We’re not getting accepted to tournaments because they feel that we’re going to go in there and win, and that’s too bad for the kids, but it is what it is.”
Passing the puck and communication isn’t a problem on the ice, said player Toby Novak. The kids work together well, which is a factor in the team’s success, said player Kazden Stineff.
“We’ve all kind of played together for a long time, this group of people, so we kind of know each other,” Kazden said. “We pass the puck well. We play together. We’re not really selfish. We work really good together as a team.”
Coach Nevak noted that the players are all very confident in themselves on the ice, so that they are not intimidated by any team they come up against.
“They go in there and they know, we play our game, what Matt and I teach,” Nevak said. “They play like they do and they can beat anyone. They’re never intimidated by anyone really. I think it’s that confidence. You go to the center of the ice at the beginning of the game and you can feel we’re going to win this.”
The team exemplified this when they went up against Fairbanks, one of their most challenging opponents, and beat them in the final period.
Winning that game was one of the best moments of the season, Kazden said.
“It was a really close game and everyone played really well and we ended up winning,” Kazden said. “It was really exciting because it was a big tournament. It was one of the best games we’ve played because they’re a tough team.”