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2 youth hockey teams from Anchorage bring home national championships

  • Author: Anchorage Daily News
  • Updated: 1 day ago
  • Published 2 days ago

The Alaska Oilers celebrate after winning the Tier II U18 youth hockey national championship Monday in Green Bay, Wisconsin (photo courtesy Alaska Oilers)

Two youth hockey teams from Anchorage captured USA Hockey national championships Monday.

The Alaska Oilers U18 team and the Alaska Stars U14 team won Tier II title games to become Alaska’s latest national champions.

The Oilers defeated the Rogue Warriors of North Carolina 4-3 in overtime in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and the Stars defeated the Carolina Junior Hurricanes of North Carolina 5-3 in Dallas.

The championships raise the number of national titles earned by Alaska youth and adult teams to 18, according to a USA Hockey list of national champions that dates back to 1938.

Four of Alaska’s championships have come in the last five years — the Anchorage North Stars boys won the 16U Tier II title in 2019, and the North Stars girls took the 19U Tier II title in 2017.

The Oilers won the U18 championship game on a goal from Tristan Berntsen, whose strike came four minutes into the extra period.

Alaska’s Marc Abrego sent the game into overtime with a late third-period goal. Bernsten finished with two goals, Abrego and Brenden Anaruk each had one and goaltender Maxwell Dupree made 23 saves.

Monday’s victory avenged a 5-2 loss to the Rogue Warriors in pool play. The Oilers finished the eight-team tournament with a 4-1 record and were 31-7-2 for the season.

The Alaska Stars gather on the ice after claiming the Tier II U14 youth hockey national title Monday in Dallas. (Photo by Todd Bethard)

In Dallas, the Alaska Stars also avenged an earlier loss to emerge as champions of their 12-team tournament.

Britton Bethard scored twice and Burke Newton, William Lierman and Fischer Sims supplied one goal apiece to help the Stars rally from an early two-goal deficit.

The game was tied 2-2 after one period, and the Stars seized the lead for good on a pair of goals from Bethard, whose second goal came in the final seconds of the period. Goalie Hayden Zernia played the first two periods and Caylin Jones played the final period for the Alaskans.

The Stars roster is primarily a collection of players from the Alaska All Stars and Anchorage North Stars organizations, plus a few players from other associations. By tournament time, they were down to four defenseman, according to one of the team’s coaches.

They eked out a spot in the tournament’s knockout round by going 1-2 in pool play, a stretch that included a 3-1 loss to the Hurricanes. They finished with three straight victories for a 4-2 tournament record.

The Oilers and Stars were among eight Alaska teams that competed in USA Hockey national tournaments over the weekend. All were Tier II teams except the Team Alaska U15 squad, which went 0-3 in the Tier I tournament in Dallas.

Tier I is the top level for youth players.

2021 — Alaska Oilers U18 Tier II

2021 — Alaska Stars U14 Tier II

2019 — Anchorage North Stars 16U Tier II

2017 — Anchorage North Stars 19U girls Tier II

2013 — Alaska All Stars 14U girls Tier II

2012 — Alaska Icebreakers 14U girls Tier II

2010 — Rusty Blade Runners over-40 women

2000 — Team Alaska over-30 senior men

1996 — Alaska All Stars 17U Tier I

1996 — Anchorage Junior C

1996 — Alaska Firebirds 19U girls

1995 — Alaska Gold Kings senior men’s elite

1994 — Anchorage senior men’s open

1992 — Alaska Gold Kings senior men’s open

1991 — Anchorage senior men’s open

1990 — Anchorage 15U Tier I

1990 — Team Alaska senior men’s open

1983 — Fairbanks senior men’s open