WASILLA — South struck first, but Saturday’s state hockey championship belonged to Dimond in a fast and furious affair at the Menard Ice Arena, where fired up fans filled the stands and stood shoulder to shoulder on the mezzanine.
Dimond won its second straight Class 4A title with a 7-3 win over a South team that hadn’t lost in 17 Cook Inlet Conference games this season. Dawson Glover scored twice to lead the Lynx in what he called the most intense game of the season.
“It started off kind of weird,” Glover said. “They kinda got a flukey goal from far out and we were surprised by that. After that we turned it up a notch.”
South’s Cayden Cahill scored the first of his two goals on a shot from about 75 feet out. The puck caught Dimond goalie Jordan MacMillan on a pad and flipped softly over his shoulder and into the goal just 89 seconds after the opening face off, prompting Dimond to take an early timeout.
“We didn’t want to take it that early, but we took it,” Dimond coach Dennis Sorenson said. “We talked to the kids, we calmed Jordan MacMillan down and we were golden after that.”
Christian Hausinger evened the score less than a minute later and Glover put the Lynx up 2-1 on a power-play goal with 9:37 left to play in the first period.
When Glover made a beautiful pass to a wide-open Joel Tomuro and the Lynx led 3-1, Dimond fans unleashed some of the loudest cheers of the night.
The cheering continued when Josh Larson and Jordan Hall deposited goals 20 seconds apart to stretch Dimond’s lead to 5-1 in the first minute of the second period.
South didn’t go away quietly, however, getting a second goal from Cahill and another from Jared Cruz to get back in the game with 9:03 left in the second period.
“They got a couple quick ones and kinda put us on our heels right there,” Glover said. “We held steady and knew we would get the win if we just played our game.”
Dimond continued to apply pressure and finished off South with an early third-period goal from Ben Heafer and an empty-netter from Glover in the final minute.
The Wolverines were disappointed, Cahill said, but the junior still had a smile on his face as he came off the ice.
“This is my first time ever being here, so it was great,” he said. “The fans are great and there’s a lot of them. You can’t hear anything.”
Saturday’s result was a bit of an upset. Dimond was the tournament’s third seed from the CIC and South was the top seed. South beat Dimond in each of the teams two previous meetings this season.
“It’s always fun playing South,” said Dimond’s Tyler Andrews, who dished two assists. “It feels a little bit special to take away their undefeated season, because we had it last year and I know how it is. They played a hell of a game.”
Dimond’s road to a championship came with a few more bumps than last season’s undefeated run. The Lynx lost three CIC games this season, the two to South and one to Service in the semifinals of last week’s CIC tournament.
“This is definitely going to be a year I will remember,” Glover said. “I’m proud of this team, proud of the boys.”
West 0, Service 0
West and Service played to a scoreless tie in the Class 4A third-place game, with West goalie Joe Chekan stopping 28 shots and Service goalie Dustin Fritz stopping 19.
The game capped an impressive tournament for Chekan, who surrendered just one goal in three games.
He posted a 1-0 double-overtime victory against Wasilla in the first round, but South slipped one shot past him in its 1-0 semifinal win on Friday.
"He's played a ton of minutes and he's seen a lot of shots," West coach Nathan Shasby said after Friday's semifinals. "He continues to elevate his game. He's very reliable."
The second period was the toughest for Chekan to endure against Service, which unleashed 15 shots in 15 minutes. In the third period, Service outshot West 6-5.
No overtime was played. ASAA's Isaiah Vreeman said that according to tournament rules, if a game is tied after regulation if there is no need for a winner to be determined -- that is, if the game doesn't decide pairings for the next round of play -- no overtime is played and the game is called a draw.
Lathrop 3, Soldotna 0
Two late power-play goals set up a 3-0 win for Lathrop in the fourth-place game against Soldotna.
Maxwell Blankenship gave Lathrop a 1-0 lead less than five minutes into the third period on an assist from Logan Parsley, who extended the lead to 2-0 when he scored with 5:19 to play. Connor Nilson added an empty-netter with 39 seconds left.
Soldotna outshot Lathrop 21-15, but Lathrop goalie Ian Morey stopped all 21 shots to shut out the Stars.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.