Two goals from Brendan Jester and some nifty passing from Cayden Cahill helped the South hockey team storm past Service 5-1 in a Cook Inlet Conference game Thursday at Ben Boeke Arena.
Jester's first goal was the prettiest of the night and was ultimately a momentum-shifting game-winner. Service had just tied the score at 1-1 with a power-play goal from Blaine Sharrock with 9:53 to play in the first period, but Jester answered 29 seconds later from around the top of the circle on the right wing.
"Bryson Schmitz just took it all the way up and gave me a good pass," said Jester, who took the puck in stride and fired a laser into the net. "I shot it and got what I wanted."
Immediately following the goal, Jester dropped to one knee and gave a fist pump as he coasted around behind the Service goal and into the waiting arms of his celebrating teammates. The goal gave the Wolverines a little lift, but Jester said there wasn't any panic from the Wolverines after the Service goal.
"I'm confident in our team and I think we would have gotten it no matter what, but it felt good," Jester said.
South, which improved to 6-0 in CIC play, opened scoring less than four minutes in on a power-play goal from Josh Smith, who struck out of scuffle in front of the net and got a goal apiece from Croix Evingson and Jared Cruz. Goalie Davis Kitagawa stopped 14 shots.
The score remained 2-1 well into the second period, until Cahill delivered a beautiful pass to set up Evingson for a blast from around the left circle. Cahill, who also notched an assist on the game's final goal, skated from behind the Service goal to retrieve the puck and was moving toward center ice when he made the pretty find to help the Wolverines go up 3-1.
Jester nailed his second goal from close range early in the third period, and Cruz knocked in the last goal with 10:55 to play.
Service (3-3 CIC) came in off a tough loss to East, in which the Cougars outshot the T-birds 34-10, but still lost 3-1. Five Cougars were out with injuries Thursday, and the Service coach Joel Carter said the missing players is causing plenty of problems.
"Just kind of a lack of chemistry, because we've had so many kids in and out of that lineup," Carter said. "You can definitely see where our systems broke down and they were able to take advantage of it."
The Service-South match up was a rematch of the 2011 state title game, won by South, and one of a few meaningful CIC match ups coming up before the Christmas break. Service, which finished runner-up to Dimond (7-0 CIC) in the state tournament two seasons ago, will face the two-time defending state champs on Tuesday, after a game with Chugiak (1-4) on Friday. Dimond and South will play Saturday in a rematch of last season's state title game.
As for Thursday's game, Carter said Jester's first-period goal was a deflating shot for the Cougars, who produced several hard shots on goal, including some vicious slap shots from Miles Giorgion in the early going.
"Tonight, we played well, but the kids still lost and they're gonna feel it and they're gonna be upset about it," Carter said. "It's to us as coaches to build up their confidence and tell them what they're doing right."
Chugiak 8, Palmer 3
A Kris Tomazevic hat trick propelled the Chugiak hockey team to an 8-3 nonconference victory over Palmer on Thursday at the McDonald Center in Eagle River.
Tomazevic scored a goal in the first period and two in the third, with Andrew Beckett, Zachary Krajnik, Sam Hanson, William Casey and John Hammer all adding goals for the Mustangs.
Palmer scored once in the second period and twice in the third, getting goals from Chris Dojka, Aidan LaFrance and Jarrett Johns.
Chugiak goalie Jack Straub made 21 saves, and Palmer goalie Cody Grogan stopped 32 shots.
Reach Jeremy Peters at email@example.com or 257-4335.