The Cook Inlet Conference hockey championships begin Monday, and if the final week of regular-season action is any indication, the battle for the conference title could be a good one.
The CIC's top seeds — No. 1 South (13-1) and No. 2 Dimond (12-2) — met Friday night at a packed Ben Boeke Arena and needed overtime to decide things. Dimond prevailed 3-2 on Blake Hausinger's second goal of the game, denying South's bid for an undefeated conference season.
South nonetheless retained its position atop the conference standings and will meet eighth-seeded East in the week-long tournament's first game. The puck drops at 6:30 p.m. at Ben Boeke.
East (1-13) wound up as the eighth seed by virtue of its 7-1 loss to Bartlett (2-12) on Saturday. Bartlett will face Dimond on Tuesday.
Perhaps the game with the biggest impact last week was Chugiak's 4-2 win over Eagle River, a rematch of last year's CIC championship game. The victory by the two-time defending champion Mustangs spared the conference of a three-way tie for fourth place between Chugiak, Eagle River and Service.
Chugiak secured the No. 4 seed with a 7-7 record; Service is the No. 5 seed with a 6-8 record and Eagle River is No. 6 with a 5-9 mark. Had Eagle River beaten Chugiak, all three teams would have finished at 6-8.
Chugiak and Service play Monday and Eagle River plays third-seeded West (10-4) Tuesday.
First-round losers will be eliminated. Winners will advance to semifinal games Thursday. The third-place game is Friday and the championship game is Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Ben Boeke.
CIC first-round games
6:30 p.m. — South (13-1) vs. East (1-13), Ben Boeke Arena
7:15 p.m. — Chugiak (7-7) vs. Service (6-8), McDonald Center
6:30 p.m. — Dimond (12-2) vs. Bartlett (2-12), Ben Boeke Arena
7:15 p.m. — West (10-4) vs. Eagle River (5-9), McDonald Center
Gavan Hardy, Dimond — 10 goals-17 assists—27 points
Hunter Schmitz, South — 7-20–27
Blake Hausinger, Dimond — 11-15–26
Grant Epple, Chugiak — 13-11—24
Luke Momblow, Chugiak — 12-11–23
Nicholas Eddens, East — 12-10–22
Daniel Casey, Chugiak — 10-12–22
Revvy Mack, West — 9-12–21
Nicholas Corbin, South — 10-10—20
Andrew Vandenbos, Bartlett — 9-10–19
Zane Anderson, South — .710
Matthew Driskell, Dimond — .870
Hunter Kattness, Dimond — .980