Anchorage — Armed with nine seniors, the Dimond-West girls hockey team is on a mission to claim its third straight Cook Inlet Conference crown, and Wednesday's 10-0 rout of Chugiak-Eagle River at Ben Boeke Arena was an ideal start.
Six players scored in the CIC tournament opener, with Brandi Muller, Taral Clayton, Tami Suenram and Miryea Herman each striking twice. A three-goal first period gave way to a seven-goal second.
"We just went out there with the mind-set that we wanted to win and that we were gonna beat 'em to the puck every time and I feel like we did," said team captain Allye Brodie.
Two of the four CIC teams were eliminated Wednesday, with Service-East beating South-Bartlett 6-2 in the other semifinal at Ben Boeke Arena. Kerianne Hansen scored two of the first three goals for Service-East, which led 3-1 through two periods and closed with three scores in the final frame.
Second-seeded Service-East (11-5 CIC) is the only team to beat top-seeded Dimond-West (13-2) in CIC play this season. The teams met four times, each winning twice.
Brodie expects Friday's championship to feature gritty play from both sides.
"I look forward to a fast-paced game," she said. "It's gonna be a rough one. They beat us last time, so we're really looking forward to playing them again."
Dimond-West was in control of Wednesday's win with a 3-0 lead by the time Muller scored her second goal with 39 seconds left in the first period. Muller, a senior who leads Dimond-West with 29 goals, was a big part of early action. She opened scoring with 5:20 left in the opening period and earned an assist on a goal by Leandra Murray that bumped the lead to 2-0.
"I try to set an example and I try to get the goal-scorer role or maybe a playmaker and just kinda get (the puck) down in there, in the zone," Muller said.
Muller played for Dimond-West as a freshman, but wasn't part of the last two championship squads. She spent the last two seasons playing with the North American Hockey Academy in Vermont, where she said she matured as a player and learned the most important thing about playing winning hockey is to give maximum effort at all times.
She has passed the advice on to her Dimond-West teammates, a fun group she enjoys playing with. "Before the game or before practice we're all just really goofy in the locker room and then once we hit the ice, we're all pretty serious and we all love the game," Muller said.
Dimond-West started the season slowly, losing three of its first five games, including a nonconference loss in Fairbanks and a 10-3 loss to Service-East. Second-year coach Brent Vandenbos said the team has played its best hockey during the second half of the season, after overcoming some injuries. Now, all those seniors have a shot at another title.
"It's senior year, so everyone is excited," Dimond-West captain McKenzie Haskins said.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.