Though eight seniors from last season's state title squad have departed, the Dimond hockey team didn't show any signs of slowing down Tuesday at the McDonald Center.
The Lynx opened Cook Inlet Conference play with a 10-2 win over Chugiak, getting two goals apiece from Tyler Garcia, Ben Heafer and Tyler Andrews while extending their winning streak to 27 games.
The last time Dimond (1-0) lost a hockey game was against Service in the semifinals of the 2011 state tournament, and Dimond coach Dennis Sorensen still thinks about it.
"That's the one that bothers me," he said. "We had a great team that year."
As for this year's team, Sorensen is still trying to figure out exactly what he has.
"We're different," he said. "Our character is a little different. Right now, it looks like a good team, but we're not sure if the chemistry is there yet."
Dimond jumped to a 3-0 lead with two first-period goals from Garcia and another from Kiel Kenning.
Chugiak's William Casey scored less than three minutes into the second period to cut the lead to 3-1, but Heafer extended Dimond's lead to 4-1 just 36 seconds later. Andrews drilled a rocket shot from 10 feet in front of the net in the final minute of the period to put Dimond up 5-1.
Chugiak (0-1) mustered just seven shots on Dimond goalie Jordon MacMillan, who played all 45 minutes.
Chugiak was without six players who didn't have the 10 required practices under their belt, coach Rodney Wild said. But instead of bemoaning an season-opening encounter with the defending state champs, Wild said the Mustangs were glad to test themselves against the best.
"You start playing your first game against the best team, you know where you stand," he said.
The Mustangs won't face Dimond again until near the end of the regular season, and Wild said he looks forward to using Dimond as a measuring stick and seeing how much his team can improve in that time. The Mustangs did a lot of things well and showed encouraging signs, Wild said.
The Mustangs' first goal was a particular bright spot, because it came from a freshman playing his first high school game. Casey found himself with space on the right wing and fired the puck from about 15 feet out.
"It was pretty cool," Casey said. "I wasn't going for any goals or anything. I was just trying to get a rebound, but it went in, so that was pretty nice."
Chugiak's second goal came from Kris Tomazevic, sandwiched between five third-period goals from five different Lynx.
Marcus Moloney put Dimond up 6-1 just 13 seconds into the third period and Kenny Hausinger made it 7-1 before Tomazevic scored. Heafer and Andrews each added their second goals to make it 9-2 and Josh Larson tacked on the 10th goal with 22 seconds remaining.
Larson, a junior who scored a goal in the state title game last season, said the high-powered third period was a great indicator of what the Lynx are capable of.
"We started out pretty slow -- just had to get our feet under us," he said. "Second period we kind of picked up and third period we came out pretty strong."
Reach Jeremy Peters at email@example.com or 257-4335.
By JEREMY PETERS