WASILLA -- Led by a group of eight seniors, the Dimond hockey team dominated all season, but it was a trio of sophomores that put the Lynx on the road to victory in Saturday's First National Cup state hockey final.
In front of a packed house at the Menard Sports Center, Drake Glover, Lane Bauer and Josh Larson notched the game's first three goals in a 6-1 win over Service.
Daniel Roberts, the first senior to score for Dimond, said he had no problem letting the young guys get all the early action.
"It motivates them, it motivates us," he said.
Roberts was a member of Dimond's last three varsity squads, three good teams that kept falling short at the state tournament. The Lynx finished runner-up two of the past three years and lost in the semifinals of last season's tournament. Going through those losses were tough, Roberts said.
"It takes a lot of self control to put those seasons behind you," he said.
This season, Dimond didn't lose a game, going 26-0 on its march to its title.
"We played harder," Roberts said. "We had a better bond, because we are all like brothers."
The Lynx caught fire at the end of the first period, scoring two goals in 10 seconds. Glover fired a shot from the left wing that went in at the far post, and Bauer, who was named player of the game, did the same thing from a little closer in with 2:41 left in the period.
It's always great to score, Bailey said, but his goal held extra meaning because he knew what the game meant to the seniors.
"Some seemed to have butterflies," Bauer said. "The seniors really wanted this game."
The 2-0 lead put Dimond in the driver's seat, prompting Service to take a time out.
"I was thinking, 'It's not over, we can still come back,' " Service's Aaron McIinnis said. "Dimond just outplayed us. Dimond is just a better team."
The Lynx put the game away in the second period, starting with a goal from Larson less than two minutes in. They extended the lead to 4-0 on a goal from Roberts.
Service cut the lead to 4-1 on a goal from Miles Giorgione, but Dimond came right back to make it 5-1 on a goal by Aaron Dunlap in the final minute of the second period. Shilo Vega added Dimond's final goal on a power play in the third period.
"Tenacity. They wanted it, you could tell," Service coach Joel Carter said of the Lynx. "It wasn't that we went out and lost. They went out and won."
It had been a long time coming for the Lynx. Their last state title came in 2001, though they've had plenty of chances -- Dimond has appeared in eight championship games since claiming their 2001 crown, but didn't win one of them until Saturday.
For Service, it was the second straight runner-up finish. The Cougars knocked off undefeated Dimond in last season's state semifinals.
"The magic didn't work twice," Carter said. Maybe we were emotionally spent after yesterday."
The Cougars were coming off a big win over defending state champion South in the semifinals, Service's first state tournament win in history over the Wolverines.
"I'll never forget this. It was a great year," McInnis said.
South lost for the second straight day, falling 2-1 to Lathrop in the game for third place Saturday.
Lathrop crafted its win with two first-period goals from Tristen Ramaker. The Malemutes, backed by 29 saves from goalie Brandon Brown, hung on to the two-goal lead until midway through the third period, when South's Lucas Nokelby notched a goal.
South goalie Ben Simpson stopped 19 shots in the loss.
In the fourth-place game, Wasilla blanked West Valley 4-0.
Wasilla jumped ahead early in its win, getting a goal from Brandon Truck in the first 30 seconds of play. Colton Fletcher gave Wasilla a 2-0 lead with six seconds remaining in the second period and Chancie Hanson made it 3-0 early in the third period. Wasilla's final goal came from Troy Verplancke with three seconds left in the game.
Wasilla goalie Larry Massie stopped 21 shots in the shutout and West Valley goalie Matt Taylor stopped 22.
OT goal lifts Hutchison to Greatland tournament title
Justin Boots was a hero twice for Hutchison on Saturday, scoring the team's last two goals -- including the overtime winner -- to give the Hawks their second Greatland state championship in three years.
Boots scored 50 seconds into overtime to provide Hutchison with a 3-2 win over Monroe Catholic and their second state title in three seasons.
Boots' first goal gave Hutchison a 2-1 lead with just 1:04 left in regulation.
"I thought that was the final goal for the game," he said.
Monroe's Carson Keys had an answer, however, knotting it at 2-2 when he nailed a long shot from the left wing with 43.2 seconds left. "That shot gave me nightmares from last year," Boots said.
Hutchison had also lost its previous two meetings with Monroe this season, both games coming right down to the wire.
"It's always been close or in overtime," Hutchison coach Keith Bartusch said. "I wouldn't expect anything else."
Bartusch said he has preached to his team all season about the importance of getting pucks to the net and attacking, and the Hawks didn't change their game plan Saturday. Boots' game-winning goal was a perfect example of that.
The puck was bouncing around in front of the net and there were a couple of shots on goal. One of the shots rebounded right to Boots in front of the left goal post, where he snapped the puck in the goal.
"I don't know how I got it," he said.
In the third-place game in the Greatland tournament, Kenny Lake and Delta Junction combined for six third-period goals, with Kenny Lake coming out on top 5-4.
Sam Carlson recorded four goals and an assist for Kenny Lake. He helped set up Deanna Knutson for the team's first goal and scored the rest himself. His three third-period goals were all unassisted.
Craig Hennager and Brett Smith each scored twice for Delta.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
Class 4A all tournament team
Chancie Hanson, Wasilla; Tyler Andrews, Dimond; Anders Carlson, Lathrop; Tony Crow, Dimond; Aaron Dunlap, Dimond; Jeremy Smith, Service; Taylor Sleater, Dimond; Jacob Wolter, Lathrop; Dawson Glover, Dimond; Brandon Brown, Lathrop; Lucas Nokelby, South; Miles Giorgione, Service;
Greatland all-tournament team
Leah Carlson, Kenny Lake; Eli Erickson, Delta Junction; Thomas Lees, Hutchison; Nathaniel Brose (goalie), Monroe: Sam Carlson, Kenny Lake; Tyler Sands, Hutchison; Kyle Coiley, Monroe; Justin Boots, Hutchison.
By JEREMY PETERS
Anchorage Daily News