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Team Alaska and Team Texas Set to Meet in Girls Championship

By Lary Bump, 03/27/22, 8:30PM MDT


Two semifinal shootouts determine championship matchup

FRISCO, Texas — Just minutes after stopping four shootout shots Sunday to help her team win to reach the Chipotle-USA Hockey High School Girls National Championship final, Team Alaska’s Zoie Campbell talked about traveling to the second-largest state from the largest.

“I’m sure if I got away from the tourist places, I’d see the beauty of Texas,” the Team Alaska goalie said, “but I feel like Alaska’s ruined it for me. I wake up at home to the beauty of the mountains.”

Rewind to 23 seconds before a 17-minute sudden-death overtime ended, Alaska assistant coach Xavier Schlee huddled with Campbell.

“He told me, ‘I’d rather have you in net than the goalie at the other end,’” Campbell said.

After making 23 saves in 68 minutes of the three periods and overtime, sophomore Campbell stopped all four of the Omaha Lady Jr. Lancers’ shootout attempts. At the other end, Alexis Kindred and Renee Doyle beat Omaha goalie Savannah Sipp. With only one shooter left for the Lancers, the game was over, officially a 3-2 win.

Kindred scored both Alaska goals in regulation and put her team in the lead in the shootout.

“I shot blocker side over her,” she said.

While Team Alaska was in overtime, Team Texas also went to overtime and a shootout to hand Premier Prep Grey from Minnesota its only loss in the Nationals, 5-4. That sets up Monday’s 8:30 a.m. final against Alaska.

The only loss for Team Texas in the tournament was to Alaska, 2-1. And who scored the game-winning goal in the third period? Alexis Kindred.

Against Premier, Team Texas overcame a 4-1 deficit in the third period, with Kaylee Lewis scoring the tying goal with 2:06 left in regulation and the first goal in the shootout. Lewis leads the tournament with 10 goals.

In contrast, Team Alaska has totaled 12 goals in four games[LH1] . Kindred, a junior, has a team-high four goals. Like Campbell, she had never been to Texas before this week.

“We travel quite a bit with my other teams,” Kindred said. The competition level is the major difference when we travel.”

Team Alaska doesn’t often travel far from Anchorage.

“There’s not a lot of teams in the area,” coach Brian Gross said. “We play mostly boys’ teams. How well we do depends on their level of talent.

“When we do travel, it’s always a full day of travel, and our stick bag didn’t arrive, so we had to cancel practice on Wednesday,” he said.

The fourth-year head coach said that didn’t bother his team.

“They adapt to it,” he said.

Alaska would have likely avoided overtime had it not been for Savannah Sipp. She made 36 saves.

Kindred described her first goal, shorthanded, in the first period.

“It was a breakaway. The defense was trying to ice it and I got in front of it,” she said.  

The second was a rebound goal on a day when Omaha rarely allowed opponents in front of the net. She wouldn’t admit she was thinking about a hat trick, but she did say her last three-goal game was “back in high school in a tournament.”

Aside from Kindred and Campbell, Alaska’s greatest star was its penalty killing. Omaha scored only once on nine power plays, including a 5-on-3 advantage in overtime.

“We did a good job containing them to the outside to prevent high-percentage shots,” Gross said. “We’re very disciplined and we’ve been getting better with each one.”

Behind the defense there was the calm Zoie Campbell, wise beyond her years.

“I have confidence in shootouts,” she said. “Not to be cocky, but I’ve never lost a shootout in my career. That’s how we won in Districts last year. We had to win two shootouts to get there.

“It’s me and just one other player. I don’t follow their body at all when they’re trying to fake and make me look. I just watch where the puck goes,” she said.

One game away now from a championship, Kindred is looking for redemption from earlier this year.

“My team lost in Districts, so I feel like I’m getting a second chance,” she said.

After the second chance, she’ll be going home with her teammates – going from the forecast of 82 degrees in Frisco to 43 in Anchorage over 3,800 miles away.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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