ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The Alaska All Stars hockey organization of Anchorage has held a storied tradition of excellence in its 30 plus years of existence. The program has teams that range from the developmental level to ones that compete at a national level.
One of those nationally competitive level teams is head coach Christy Hickel’s 19U Tier II girls’ team. The All Star name suits this team, comprised of talented girls from all across the state, not just the Anchorage area. Hickel has been coaching hockey for 30 years and has developed quite a following in the fast-growing Alaska girls’ hockey community.
“Our goal at the beginning of the year is about work ethic and tenacity,” Hickel said.
Tenacity is key, as her team didn’t even allow any goals during their Pacific District Tournament showing this past weekend. Hickel’s All Stars scored a total of 24 goals in five games as they rolled to the title in their hometown of Anchorage.
All Stars goaltender Aubrielle Champagne recorded five shutouts during the tournament as the team’s other goalie was injured before the weekend started.
“I’m really really excited,” Champagne said after her fifth shutout victory secured a trip to the Toyota USA Hockey National Championships.
The All Stars boasted a 20-14-4 regular season record on their way to nationals behind captain and defenseman Cheyenne Matson, who scored the first goal of their championship game. This goal was followed by a standout display of competitiveness when forward Morgan Newhouse tipped one in to make it 2-0 late in the second period. An empty netter by LeVani Blair in the final seconds lifted the 19U powerhouse to victory over the Washington Wild in Sunday’s championship game.
Hickel obviously emphasizes teaching hockey to her group of All Stars, but also teaches lessons in fitness, personal success and motivation. The All Star organization has placed 10 players from Hickel’s teams into NCAA Division I women’s college hockey programs, including her two daughters Tori and Zoe. The team has also moved 14 players through USA Hockey’s youth programs and into NCAA Division III and ACHA teams across the nation. Hickel’s oldest daughter Zoe currently plays professionally in the newly-formed National Women’s Hockey League for the Boston Pride, and is also an active member of her mother’s coaching staff.
Despite playing the Pacific District Tournament in their hometown, the All Stars chose to be together as a team and stayed in a hotel during the tournament.
“It’s almost a disadvantage to be playing your games at home,” Hickel said.
The team believed that staying together and developing a road game mentality really had a lot to do with their success. Being together in a familiar place while still secluded from the distractions of their hometown and high schools may have been the boost they needed to get the job done. Hickel and her girls have now earned the responsibility of representing their home state of Alaska in a nationally scouted tournament in front of countless college recruiters.
Now it’s on to nationals for the Alaska All Stars, taking place in Burlington, Vermont, from March 31 to April 4.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.