WASILLA — Knights are supposed to slay dragons, and that's just what the Colony Knights did Thursday at the First National Cup state hockey tournament.
The Knights scored in the third overtime period to take down the highly regarded South Wolverines 5-4 in first-round action at the Menard Sports Center.
Cooper Smith scored the game-winner with a little more than six minutes left in the third OT to send South to its second loss in 25 games this season.
"Slaying the dragon right off the bat," Smith said.
Two of the four first-round games were decided in overtime, and in both instances it was a Valley team prevailing over an Anchorage team. In the late game, Wasilla rallied to beat Service 4-3 less than four minutes into OT.
In the tournament's first two games, Dimond and West collected wins in opposite fashion. Dimond used third-period heroics to gut out a 4-3 win over West Valley, and West jumped on Juneau early in a 6-1 triumph.
South and Colony were tied 4-4 after 45 minutes of regulation play, and they played nearly 18 minutes in overtime before Smith ended it.
South outshot Colony 40-23 for the game and 9-2 in the first two eight-minute overtime periods, but the Knights took the shot that mattered the most. Foster Riekena, who scored Colony's first goal, got the assist on Smith's game-winner.
"It was a major grind at the end," Smith said. "I knew they were tired, and we were tired, but I was pretty confident that we were gonna win it."
Smith scored twice for the Knights, whose other goals came from Riekena, Alexander Fike and Dane Jellich. JJ Fabeck scored twice for South, which also got goals from Sam Jemmings and Dylan Jones.
Goaltender Cole Doss made 36 saves for Colony, and Zane Alexander and Alex Pavia combined for 18 saves for the Wolverines.
Dimond 4, West Valley 3
Dimond defenseman Brendan Anaruk scored the game-winning goal, becoming an unexpected hero in unexpected fashion.
With the score tied 3-3, Anaruk carried the puck up the boards. The sophomore was supposed to fire the puck in the zone after the Lynx managed to get it from a sustained West Valley push.
He instead resisted the easy play and made two defenders miss. He launched a shot from the top of the circle and after being partially blocked, the puck trickled in.
"We've been trying to get him to chip the puck in deep all year," said Dimond coach Dennis Sorenson. "I looked away because I thought that's what he did … I heard it was a nice goal."
Anaruk could hardly contain himself. But he knew six minutes remained on the clock.
"It was amazing. I can't explain it," he said. "I told the boys we need to keep it going, get another one."
Only one grade-A scoring chance was mustered by West Valley following Anaruk's goal. Jaren Beckley's shot nicked off the top of Dimond goalie Hunter Kattness' glove. The puck got behind him, but skipped just wide.
West Valley outshot Dimond 34-22 and held leads of 1-0 and 3-2 — both courtesy of Anton Ruppert goals.
The Lynx tied the game 3-3 with two minutes left in the second period when Dawson Thompson hammered a shot from just inside the blue line. The rebound kicked out to Teague Porter for a tap-in.
"You know I think we got lucky tonight," Sorenson said. "Pretty happy to get lucky … but we came out in the end."
West 6, Juneau 1
West used a flurry of first-period goals to skate to a 6-1 victory against Juneau in the day's first game.
The Eagles outshot the Crimson Bears 41-16, with a 17-2 edge in the opening stanza.
West scored three goals 90 seconds apart about seven minutes into the game. Tyler Courrier's pair of goals sandwiched Chase Schwamm's eventual game-winner.
West rode into the game on a high note. The Eagles won their final four regular-season games and then won their first two games in the CIC tournament before falling to South in the title game.
"Our connections as a team just have got better and better," said West senior Jackson Lindemann. "Our chemistry just overall got better and better."
Connor Batman made several key saves for West. According to assistant coach Matt Shasby, he's a major factor in any Eagles win.
"We really focus on our goaltending and work out from there," Shasby said. "He uses a nice butterfly (style) to make some really tough stops and came up big tonight."
Bill Bosse put the Crimson Bears on the scoreboard early in the second period, collecting his own rebound in the slot, but Batman turned aside Juneau's remaining chances.
Wasilla 4, Service 3
Wasilla's Alex Engan scored the game-tying goal late in the third period and the game-winning goal early in overtime to carry Wasilla past Service 4-3.
The Cougars squandered a 3-0 lead. They led 2-0 after one period thanks to goals from Ben Martensen and Anthony Roberts, and made it 3-0 in the second period with another Martensen goal.
Wasilla trailed 3-1 after two period and controlled much of the third-period action.
A power-play goal by Hayden Masterson sliced Service's lead to one goal with 11 minutes left in regulation, and with 1:29 left the Warriors pulled their goalie. Six seconds later, Engan tied the game.
With 4:25 left in the eight-minute overtime period, Engan scored again to end the game.
First National Cup
West 6, Juneau 1
Dimond 4, West Valley 3
Colony 5, South 4 (3 OT)
Service vs. Wasilla, late
Noon — West Valley vs. South
2:30 p.m. — Juneau vs. Service-Wasilla loser
5 p.m. — Dimond vs. Colony
7:30 p.m. — West vs. Service-Wasilla winner