The Homer Hockey Pee Wee C team claimed the state championship trophy last weekend. At back, from left, are Terry Gilliland, coach Chris Owen, JJ Williamson, Phinny Weston, Claire Bryant, Rachel Bolin and coach Dave Bolin; in the middle, from left, are Karl Wickstrom, Austin Shafford, Casey Otis, Dylan McBride, Haylee Owen and Fiona Hatton; in the front is Keegan Strong.

The Homer Hockey Pee Wee C team claimed the state championship trophy last weekend. At back, from left, are Terry Gilliland, coach Chris Owen, JJ Williamson, Phinny Weston, Claire Bryant, Rachel Bolin and coach Dave Bolin; in the middle, from left, are Karl Wickstrom, Austin Shafford, Casey Otis, Dylan McBride, Haylee Owen and Fiona Hatton; in the front is Keegan Strong.

Homer Peewee C Team wins championship
 

It takes a lot to become a champion. Hard work, patience and the tenacity to get through the ups and downs of a long hockey season.

The Homer Hockey Pee Wee C team rose to the occasion over this past weekend and claimed the State Championship trophy for the second year in a row.

The road to the championship was not an easy one for these 11-13 year olds.

“At the beginning of the season we had a hard time working together,” said forward Fiona Hatton.

A series of early losses had the team scrambling to figure out how to make it work and come together.

Traveling to Anchorage and Kenai and hosting home games at the Kevin Bell Arena gave these youngsters more opportunities to hone their skills and come together as a team.

 “This year was different from last year where we dominated all season. This year it was good to have to work toward goals to win the tournament,” said team captain Phinny Weston.

In their first game against the Anchorage Comets, Homer struck first when Weston found the 5 hole and put his team up 1-0.

The Comets battled back but Homer’s JJ Williamson answered with a series of awesome dekes and a pair of goals  that led his team to a 3-2 victory.

The next game was against rival Kenai and a power play goal put Homer up early. 

Forward Casey Otis found the back of the net twice more and a frustrated Kenai was sending players to the penalty box.

With the game tied 4-4 in the third period Homer was awarded a penalty shot when a Kenai defenseman covered the puck in the crease

The Homer crowd fell silent as Weston skated towards the goal.

 “The game was tied so there was a lot of pressure,” he said.  

Weston handled the pressure and his goal led the team to victory.

Saturday started off with a game against the Gomez Rams and Homer skated to a 6-0 win. Goalie Keegan Strong earned his first shut-out of the tournament.

By the afternoon, the Homer youngsters were starting to fatigue and were battling in a 0-0 game against the Matsu Eagles.  In the third period they finally found the back of the net and their hunger for the title renewed. It was a 4-0 win and shut-out number 2 for Strong.

Sunday’s first game saw a very talented Fairbanks goalie. He shut Homer down for the first period but Weston found the net in the second.
 Defenseman Rachel Bolin followed up with a beautiful coast to coast goal.  Terry Gilliland sealed the deal with an empty net goal from the neutral zone and Homer found themselves going to the championship game. Strong had just hit shutout number 3.

The championship game was against the AHA Comets Nibert, a team that Homer has battled with all season.

 Fiona Hatton notched the first goal of the game.  Both teams battled it out with the play moving from one end to the other. The Comets were not going to let it go that easily.

With stress levels in the crowd rising, you could feel the relief as Homer got two more goals in the last two minutes of the second period.
The Comets were getting tired and Homer was relentless as Captain Weston secured the championship with an early goal in the third period.  Strong had another great game between the pipes and notched an impressive four shutouts for the tournament.

“We worked as a team, and wanted it more than the other teams,” said co-assistant captain Claire Bryant.

This was coaches Chris Owen and Dave Bolin’s second time coaching the kids to the title.

 “All season we told the kids they had the talent to be state champs, we just had to dial our game in. To watch these kids play like they did this weekend was amazing,” said Owen. “They just bought their A game.”

“They are a great group of kids and we had a blast winning the title with them. Dave and I thank all the kids and the parents for taking us to another state championship win.” 

 

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