WASILLA -- It was just one week ago that West High defenseman Alex Bardsley left the ice in an ambulance. On Thursday, he left the ice in the arms of his teammates, a hero.
Bardsley scored the game-winning goal for the Eagles in their 3-2 overtime defeat of the Mid Alaska Conference's top-seeded West Valley Wolfpack in the first round of the First National Cup hockey championships at the Menard Sports Complex.
In a conference tournament game against Dimond last week, Bardsley injured his hip. The injury, first thought to be a dislocation, was serious enough for Bardsley to be taken the hospital via ambulance.
"I got boarded pretty hard," Bardsley said. "It ended up being bruised and inflamed, and I actually played (against West Valley) with a pretty big pad."
West's thrilling win came on a day highlighted by close games -- and one huge upset.
Wasilla scored three times in the third period to knock off two-time defending state champion Dimond 4-3. The Lynx are the juggernaut of Alaska high school hockey, having reached the championship game in 12 of the last 16 state tournaments.
In other games, Sam Hanson's goal gave Chugiak a 2-1 triple-overtime win over Soldotna, and South pulled out a 2-1 winner over Lathrop.
Bardsley said he didn't feel too comfortable during the first three periods against the Wolfpack. But once overtime came, he was back to his old self.
"I just really like overtime," he said.
West Valley jumped to a 2-0 lead on goals from Caleb Mortez and Ethan Daniels, putting the Eagles in bind heading into the third period.
"We came out flat in the beginning," Bardsley said. "Coach came in and really pumped us up between the second and third. He brought us back to our group setting."
Nathan Shasby's pep talk must have worked. Ilya Turchaninov and Kevin Hodsdon scored goals in a 24-second span midway through the third period, tying things up.
"Our mindset went from 'Get back in it' to 'Let's win' after those two goals," Bardsley said, "and in overtime, it's just leave it all on the ice."
Goaltender Joe Chekan stopped 26 shots for West, and Lane Wood fended off 25 for West Valley.
Bardsley's strike came a little more than two minutes into overtime.
"It just came off some sticks, and I just took a swing as hard as I could," Bardsley said. "I didn't know it even went in until I saw the net move. Then, I didn't even know where I was, I was so excited."
The biggest goal of the day came off the stick of Adam Apangalook, whose unassisted goal with 85 seconds left provided the game-winner in Wasilla's 4-3 win over Dimond.
The Lynx jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first period with goals from Aidan Teilborg, Brandon Sakumoto and Drake Glover.
Blake Carricaburu put the Warriors on the scoreboard to slice Dimond's lead to 3-1 in the second period, and then Jack Reeves and Andrew Cooley supplied goals in a two-minute span midway through the third period to tie it.
Kiana Verplancke, who replaced Wyatt Monear in goal during the first period, made 25 saves for Wasilla. Dimond goalie Ashton Good turned back 22 shots.
The win was Wasilla's second this season over the Lynx. In November, the Warriors took a 3-2 home-ice victory.
Joseph Brazfield's goal for Chugiak and Bobo Lott's goal for Soldotna were the lone tallies through three periods and two overtimes.
Overtime is nothing new for Soldotna, which won the North Star Conference title last week with a 3-2 quadruple overtime victory over Wasilla. To reach the championship game, the Stars downed Colony 3-2 in double overtime and beat Palmer 3-2 by scoring the game-winner with one second left.
Earlier, Daniel Widmar and Jared Kitigawa delivered goals for South in a 2-1 win over Lathrop. Alex Parker scored for the Malemutes.
ASAA/First National Cup
State hockey championships
Menard Sports Complex Wasilla
South 2, Lathrop 1
Chugiak 2, Soldotna 1 (3 OT)
West 3, West Valley 1 (OT)
Wasilla 4, Dimond 3
8 a.m. -- Lathrop vs. Soldotna
10:15 a.m. -- West Valley vs. Dimond
5:30 p.m. -- South vs. Chugiak (semifinal)
8 p.m. -- West vs. Wasilla (semifinal)
Friday's first-round games
12:30 p.m. -- Hutchison vs. Delta Junction
3 p.m. -- Houston vs. Monroe