Heading into their Saturday afternoon matchup at the Ben Boeke Ice Arena with the Fairbanks Arctic Bears, an opponent they had yet to face all year, the Dimond/West girls varsity hockey team knew what was at stake.
After rattling off 11 straight wins to get to the state championship game, their undefeated season and title as the reigning champions was on the line.
As they did all year, Dimond/West took care of business — this time, by shutting out Fairbanks 3-0, staying in control for the vast majority of the game.
“We were focused on this one game, took it one game at a time, and we knew Fairbanks was going to come out hard and give us a good game,” Dimond/West coach Brian Gross said.
The win capped off a dominant run and secured both a perfect season and back-to-back state titles for Dimond/West.
“It’s always great to win the last game of the season, so it’s exciting,” Gross said. “I’m just glad for the kids to win the state championship and cap off an undefeated season, but I’m really happy for our seniors to go out on top.”
Over the past two years, the team has lost just one game and claimed consecutive championships.
After allowing her first goal of the season as the starting goalie for the girls team the night before, in their 3-1 win over the Valley team, junior Zoie Campbell was determined not to make it a habit. She finished with 9 saves for yet another shutout.
“There was a lot of pressure going into the game, but I was pretty confident in my team in front of me that we could do it,” Campbell said.
The standout goaltender pulled double duty as the starter for both the boys and girls teams this year for the second year in a row. Earlier on Friday, before she had given up that first goal, Campbell participated in the boys state tournament and had given up a pair of goals on 23 shots in a 4-2 loss to South with the other two goals come on empty netters.
After that game, she had an hour to get back into town to make her second start of the day — and rebounded well compared to her previous result with the boys team.
“I loved playing with both of my teams,” Campbell said. “They were both very supportive.”
This was her first time being part of an undefeated team at any level of competition, and she said it feels “unreal.”
Both Campbell and her coach credited the excellent play from the team’s defensemen for keeping her workload light compared to Fairbanks’ goalie, Adriana Livingston, who was under siege for most of the game and finished with 21 saves on 24 shots.
“Riley Hill was fantastic out there and is just a shutdown defensemen,” Gross said. “She can do everything, play good defense, join the rush, can play physical, get a great shot, and is the whole package.”
It only took Dimond/West 40 seconds in the opening period to draw first blood and take the lead on a goal from Tana Carlson following an assist from Amelia Nascimento.
“That was a big one that got the momentum going,” Gross said.
After a scoreless second period, they tacked on two more goals in the third. Sienna Kowal found the back of the net at the 13:12 mark after getting a pair of assists from Hill and Renee Doyle.
Molly Sillers scored the team’s third and final goal unassisted at the 6:36 mark after getting the puck and building up a full head of steam on a breakaway.
“We played four lines through two periods just so that we could have some gas left in the third period and we did,” Gross said. “We hoped we could wear them down and get a few in the third, which is what happened.”