Homer’s own Pee Wee Tier III hockey team picked up their third state title in three years on Monday morning at Kevin Bell Arena. The team took the 2015 Pee Wee state title and the same group won the 2014 state title when they played at the Squirt level.
“It’s really great,” said Homer team captain Casey Otis. “We worked so hard all year and then it pays off when you work so hard. It’s awesome.”
After playing five games over the weekend against Anchorage Hockey Association Nibert, Tok, Mat-Su, Moose and Fairbanks, Homer faced off for the championship opposite Kenai. The morning game began at 10 a.m. and was a close one throughout. Unlike some of Homer’s other games over the weekend that ended with a 10-point lead, the team found themselves battling Kenai for every point.
Homer’s goalie Keegan Strong succeeded in keeping Kenai out of his net until the end of the second period when they scored their first goal, bringing the score to 3-1. The game gained intensity throughout the third period as Homer worked to block further goals from Kenai and widen the gap in the score. Though Homer got several shots on Kenai’s goal, all were blocked.
However, Homer’s defensive strategies paid off. Though Kenai picked up one more goal with 5 minutes left in the third period, Homer prevented them from gaining further ground.
At 9 minutes in the third period, Kenai had a 6-on-4 power play against Homer due to player penalties. Despite the odds playing against them, Homer blocked Kenai’s aggressive goal attempts. Another penalty caused a Kenai power play with only a couple minutes left in the game and Kenai chomping at the bit to tie up the score. In the end, Homer kept their goal safe. As a result of hard practice, difficult power plays don’t faze Homer, Otis said.
As the buzzer sounded, Homer players flooded the ice and formed a giant group hug. Gloves and sticks scattered around them as they clapped each other on the backs in celebration of their victory.
Homer’s team also was at a disadvantage compared to the other teams, with only nine skaters playing due to an injury, said Pee Wee Coach Chris Owen. Though the team was tired after a long weekend of play, they overcame the numbers even in the face of difficult opponents. A close game with Fairbanks on Sunday night was the first game of the tournament where Homer was not wildly ahead of their opponents. The win sealed Homer’s place in the championship game.
“It’s too good to be true; it’s been a long road so I’m glad they pulled it out the way they did. It’s perfect,” Owen said. “Fairbanks was a tough battle for us. I’m glad they brought that kind of intensity; we needed that. And I’m glad Kenai showed up to play, they didn’t just give it to us. … It makes my job a little harder, but it’s worth it.”
Over the course of the tournament, Homer scored a total of 38 points. Terry Gilliland scored the most with 14 all-tournament points to his name, followed by Micah Williamson who scored 11 points over the weekend. Otis scored four, Fiona Hatton score three and both Kazden Stineff and Aiden Arno scored two each. Otis had seven assists; Gilland had four assists; Micah Williamson, Fiona Hatton and Hunter Green had three assists; Kazden Stineff had two assists; and Dylan McBride had one assist.
The tournament attracted 12 teams from all over Alaska, bringing about 500 players, families, coaches, referees and volunteers in to Homer, said event organizer Derotha Ferraro. The parking lot of Kevin Bell Arena was packed full of cars from March 18-20, and even the morning game brought in a small crowd. Bringing another state title to Homer will also hopefully put more eyes on Homer Hockey Association and the rink that houses them, she said.
Juneau 6, Matsu 0
Moose 2, Jr. Avalanche 1
AHA Nibert 0
FAHA 7, Kenai 1
Gomez 3, Tok 0
AHA Bowman 9, Mustangs 0
AHA Nibert 3, Juneau 2
Homer 5, Tok 1
Gomez 5, Matsu 1
FAHA 5, Jr. Avalanche 1
Kenai 3, Mustangs 2
AHA Bowman 3, Moose 1
Tok 3, Juneau 1
Homer 10, Matsu 0
Gomez 2, AHA Nibert 0
Jr. Avalanche 4, Mustangs 0
Kenai 5, Moose 1
AHA Bowman 2, FAHA 1
Homer 8, Moose 0
FAHA 3, Juneau 2
Kenai 3, Gomez 2
Tok 6, AHA Bowman 2
Homer 2, FAHA 1
Kenai 3, Tok 0
Homer 3, Kenai 2
Most Valuable Players:
The tournament awarded MVPs from each team for all of the 24 games played. Players are listed by team.
Anchorage Hockey Association Comets – Nibert:
Anchorage Hockey Association Comets – Bowman:
Homer Glacier Kings:
Kenai Peninsula Hockey Association Ice Hawks:
South Anchorage Mighty Moose:
Eagle River Mustangs: