Wearing a blue and green hockey jersey with the name Brassard printed on the back, South senior Ivy Weeks unleashed one of the most forceful shots in Tuesday's Cook Inlet Conference girls hockey game at Dempsey Anderson Arena.
The puck, fired from about 30 feet out, clanged against the right post as it found the net midway through the third period, helping Service-East/South-Bartlett cement a 7-0 win over Dimond-West and stay undefeated in three CIC games.
The game's outcomes aren't important to the girls, however, who are just happy to be on the ice after their sport nearly didn't have a season. The Anchorage School District dropped girls hockey last spring, due to lack of participation, but the Scotty Gomez Foundation stepped in to run it as an outsourced high school sport.
"No one really looks at the scoreboard," said Weeks, who was wearing a jersey from last season's team. "It's fun hockey. It's not really competitive."
That doesn't mean the players are lacking in competitive fire. Weeks thrust her hand in the air after scoring her goal, not because her team led by five, but because Dimond-West goalie Megan Hunt is one of her best friends.
"It took me like six tries to get it," Weeks said. "It was my goal before the game to get a goal, at least. I was trying my hardest to get one."
When the season started last month, it looked like Weeks and Hunt would face each other in every game, as the only two teams in the league were the ones on the ice Tuesday. The Service-East and South-Bartlett teams had melded into one and the Chugiak-Eagle River team had folded. The Chugiak-Eagle River team has since rejoined the league, along with a Dimond-West junior varsity squad that gives the league four teams.
"It's slowly but surely getting more figured out," said Dimond senior Taral Clayton. "It was rough at the beginning, but it's working out now."
The slow start to the season made it hard on everyone, said the 18-year-old Weeks, who has played hockey since she was four. Both Service-East/South-Bartlett and Dimond-West varsity teams each have more than 20 players on the roster now, and the skill level is going up along with the girls' ability to play as a team.
"Everyone gets along really well," Weeks said. "Because we're all connected, because it's a community of girls hockey and we're all trying to do the same thing: build it up together."
Tuesday's game nearly made it through one period without any goals being scored, but Kivalina Miller put Service-East/South-Bartlett on the board with 1:40 to play in the opening stanza, when she capitalized on an open net from close range. The lead swelled to 4-0 through two periods on a goal from Augustine Hamner and two from Melanie Bartenstein. The big blast from Weeks made the lead 5-0 in the third, with Kerrianne Hansen and Jaden Trboyevich each adding short-range strikes into the right side of the goal in the game's final three minutes.
Service-East/South-Bartlett goalie Vandalyn Saetern-Hudson earned a seven-save shutout, and Hunt stopped 27 shots for Dimond/West, which fell to 0-3.
All 20 players who dressed out for Dimond-West on Tuesday got to play, said Dimond-West coach Rob Larkey, even a few who had never played hockey before this season. Larkey hasn't made any cuts this season, as he works to develop a lasting hockey program.
Clayton is one Dimond-West player who has experience and plays comp-team hockey as well. She's thrilled at the prospect of girls high school hockey being around to stay. Lopsided losses like the one Tuesday can be a little frustrating, she said, but more than bearable if the alternative was dropping the sport altogether.
"It might be my senior year, and I would only have to go one year without playing it, but for the incoming freshmen and all the younger girls, I was kind of disappointed that they might not get a chance to play," she said. "Money is a big issue for comp hockey, because it does cost a lot of money and not everyone has that opportunity to pay that sort of money to play.
"High school (hockey) is a good opportunity for all the girls, that maybe it isn't their main sport, but they still want to try it."
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
By JEREMY PETERS