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Wolverines top West to win state hockey crown

Renee Esparza

WASILLA -- According to South coach Steve Belde, it was leadership and hard work that led his team to the First National Cup state hockey championship Saturday with a 4-1 win over the West Eagles.

A Twitter-inspired mantra -- #100% -- didn't hurt either, a reminder of the effort required to fulfill big goals.

"We had high expectations for this season," Belde said.

West jumped ahead early on a Garen Teders goal at the 13:42 mark of the first period. The Eagles held the lead until Bryson Schmitz tied the game with 1:31 left in the period.

"They battled through that adversity," Belde said. "Giving up the first goal and still battling back like this, that shows how hard they work."

After the Schmitz goal, the Wolverines never looked back and never let up.

"They wanted to win, you could tell," Belde said. "Especially the seniors, they wanted to go out winners."

Though the first goal came from a junior, the rest came from seniors.

Forward Cayden Cahill, who scored a hat trick in Friday's semifinal win over Chugiak, delivered the tie-breaking goal at the 9:39 mark of the second period.

Defenseman Trevor Geerin and forward Brendan Jester added goals in the third period. Geerin's came at the 5:07 mark, and Jester sank a mid-ice, open-net shot at the 1:56 mark to seal West's fate.

Both goaltenders -- South's Kevin Lake and West's Joe Chekan -- recorded 22 saves.

The Eagles were trying to win their second championship in school history. They survived a first-round overtime game against West Valley to advance to the semifinals, where they caught a break -- they didn't have to face two-time defending champion Dimond, which was on the same side of the bracket but was upended by Wasilla in the first round.

South was in the championship game for the second straight year. With the victory, the Wolverines collected their sixth championship trophy.

"When it's the end of the season, the kids do all the work," Belde said. "I've got the best ticket in the whole show. I sit back. They make it easy for me this late in the season.

" ... I'm excited for our guys and our seniors. They worked so hard to get here."

The Wolverines worked hard, they believed in their seniors, and they trusted their mantra.

"#100%. That's what won it for us," Belde said. "#100%."

In the game for third place, Wasilla tripped Chugiak 4-1. Tanner Schachle's two goals sparked the Warriors, who also got goals from Andrew Cooley and Forest Strick. Kalen Campbell provided Chugiak's lone goal.

Fourth place went to Dimond, a 5-0 winner over Soldotna. Josh Larson, Chance Peters, Tyler Dunn, Tyler Briley and Aidan Teilborg scored for the Lynx.

Hutchison rules Greatland

Brandon Rustad scored the game-winning goal about 31/2 minutes into overtime to power Hutchison past Houston 4-3 in the championship game of the Greatland state hockey tournament Saturday at the Menard Sports Complex in Wasilla.

The championship was the second in three years for the Fairbanks school. Both titles were earned in overtime games.

The game-winning goal completed a hat trick for Rustad. Steven Messer scored the Hawks' other goal.

Houston, which finished second for the second straight year, got goals from three players -- Sam Fonov, Patrick Thistle and Jonathan Lovelace.

In the third-place game, Craig Hennager scored twice to lead Delta Junction past Monroe 5-3 win.

First National Cup all-tournament team

Soldotna -- Cody Harvey. Wasilla -- Jack Reeves, Andrew Cooley, Cooper Hanson. Dimond -- Aiden Teilborg. West -- Ilya Turchaninov, Ryder Schwamm, Alex Bardsley. South -- Jared Cruz, Daniel Widmar, Cayden Cahill, Kevin Lake.


By RENEE ESPARZA
Daily News correspondent