SAN JOSE, Calif. — In the state of Alaska, it’s hard to assemble a statewide team. There’s a lot of distance between cities.
For example, Anchorage, where the USA Hockey Tier II 14-and-Under girls’ national champion Alaska All-Stars are based, is nearly two hours away by air from the state capital of Juneau. While 575 miles separates the two cities, traveling between the cities isn’t like going San Francisco to Los Angeles — especially in the winter months.
When Alaska All-Stars coach Dean Trboyevich assembled his team last spring, he knew wasn’t going to have a big player pool to draw upon. He could barely form a team of 10 skaters and a goaltender. So Trboyevich and assistant coach Cristy Hickel knew there would be only one way to compete against teams who have deep rosters: focus on physical fitness.
“We conditioned the heck out of them,” Trboyevich said. “Cristy worked the heck out of them. That’s why we could run with only 10 players and a goaltender.”
“We do continuous training throughout the year,” Hickel said. “We teach the players about nutrition and fitness. So it’s a lifestyle skill. We work with them on jumping and speed work to help them get their step up. It’s consistently done three times a week so they learn those habits for fitness.”
A hint for the future
The national championship was the second straight won by an Alaska Tier II 14U girls’ team. Perhaps this state is starting to make noise on a national scale, as the All-Stars also had a Tier I 19U girls’ team at this tournament.
The 19U All-Stars won all three games in pool play before losing to Honeybaked (Mich.) in the opening playoff round. And they did dress 16 — two goaltenders.
Trboyevich estimated that about 30 people came from Alaska to root for the 14U Alaska All-Stars. It also helped that the Tier I 19U team was also in attendance for the championship game.
“We had 30 loud people, plus our 19 team was raging for us,” he said. “It made us feel like we had 200 people. It was awesome. Plus we got a lot of texts from home. We definitely had a lot of support, that’s for sure.”
Pool play leader board
McKenzie Haberl of Cape Cod and Alaska’s Kirsten Watts shared the pool play scoring lead with 10 points apiece. Haberl and Catherine Granito of the Connecticut Ice Cats paced the goal scoring with seven each.
There were four players (Connecticut’s Marissa Baker, Caroline Peterson of Cape Cod, Watts and Mikayla Nguyen of Nashua) with four assists each.
Cape Cod goaltender Olivia Sollows had the best goals-against average at 0.00 in 71:46. At the same time, East Coast netminder Cassidy Smith allowed just one goal in 80 minutes (0.60).
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.