After beginning the Alaska State Hockey Association 14U Tier IV State Tournament with a 5-2 loss to Fairbanks, Kodiak dug deep.
The island team reeled off four straight wins to advance to the state championship game and a chance at redemption.
The second game against Fairbanks was closer, but Kodiak was still on the losing end of a 4-3 decision Sunday at the Brett Memorial Ice Arena in Palmer.
The Kodiak Hockey League team finished second with a 4-2 mark during the three-day, 12-team tournament .
“The team just kept getting stronger every game,” assistant coach Tim Hocum said. “They played more as a team and hustled harder.”
Kodiak’s all-star team advanced out of the six-squad American Conference with victories against Anchorage (3-2) and Juneau (4-3). The islanders then topped Palmer (8-5) in a cross-over game with the National Conference to advance to the semifinals.
In the semis, Kodiak took out Eagle River (5-3) to advance to the title game.
In the finals, Kodiak led after the first period, but couldn’t fend off Fairbanks in the final two periods.
“We went in knowing that we needed to play as hard as we could,” Hocum said. “It was a good tight even game. We had chances in the last half of the game to put in a goal ... it was a disappointment to come out on the short end because the kids were playing their hearts out.”
Kaleb Killsnight was unstoppable for Kodiak, scoring 16 of his team’s 25 goals during the tournament. He also assisted on three goals.
“A lot of that was created by his teammates,” Hocum said. “He definitely had a finishing touch and a huge asset.”
Garrick Schauff found the net three times, while Dawson Bunch and Evan Dano each scored twice. Taj DeVries and Dalton Horn each added a goal.
Schauff led Kodiak with eight assists, while Bunch tossed in three assists. DeVries, Gideon Craig and Trenton Nicholson each added an assist.
Goalie Zane Navarro saved 101 of 123 shots.
The rest of the team included Tyson Duboc, Melany Rodriguez, Kaleb Callahan, Daniel Powers, Gavin Baxter, Peyton Gross and Bradly Mitchell. Walter “Freddy” Fredenhagen was the head coach.
The Kodiak Hockey League’s season comes to in end this weekend when the 12U team competes in the Tier IV state tournament in Palmer.
This is KHL’s second year participating in state tournaments and the league already has won three state medals — a gold and two silvers.
Last year, Kodiak’s 18U team won the Tier IV title and this year the squad finished second.
“It lends to the hard work of the kids and all the coaches,” Hocum said.