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Team Alaska Earns Another Gold with Girls Junior Hockey Win Against Alberta North

Tim Ellis/KUAC

Today is the final day of the Arctic Winter Games, and Team Alaska remains at the top medal standings, followed by Team Yamal and Alberta North. Team Alaska brought its tally to 62 gold Friday night when its junior girls hockey team bested Alberta North, 1 to nothing.

Team Alaska’s junior girls hockey squad has gained a reputation during the Games for being fast and physical. And according to UAF women’s hockey assistant coach Jayson Kowalchuk, last night the Alaska girls got a chance to face another team with much the same attributes.

“Alberta – their players are big, they’re strong, they’re very tough in front of the net,” he said.

After the first scoreless period, Kowalchuk was a bit worried about Alaska not getting the puck past Alberta goalie Erynn Shantz – and the prospect of having to come from behind if Alberta got one past Alaska goalie Madi Davis.

“… You don’t want to go down by a goal against Alberta here,” he said.

Another spectator – Josh Vanbibber, a member of Team Yukon’s midget male hockey team – says he was feeling pretty good about Alberta’s performance after that first period.

“Alaska’s really been dominating a lot of the teams,” Vanbibber said. “But Alberta’s really giving them a run for their money. I think Alberta really could take it from Alaska.”

Louis Bouchard, Team Yukon’s junior girls coach, said after in the break after the first period that he thought Alberta should take it to Davis, the Alaska goalie.

“Northern Alberta needs to open up and put some more shorts on that goalie,” he said. “It’s not their regular goalie, so they need to test her and see where she’s weak, and where she’s strong. Right now, they haven’t been doing that.”

Credit Tim Ellis/KUAC
Alberta North's Erynn Shantz deflects another shot by Team Alaska, who stopped all but one in the gold-medal game.

Alberta certainly tested Davis through the second and third periods. But she passed the test, and after 60 minutes of multiple power plays and body-slamming, all both teams had to show for it was one goal – and that was Alaska’s, scored by hometown girl Jessica Carlson, about 5 minutes into the second period.

Kowalchuk praised Carlson’s for getting that shot past Shantz – and for the Alberta goalie’s persistence in stopping the dozens of others that the Alaskans hurled at her.

“Well, the Alberta goalie really stopped a lot of pucks tonight,” he said. “She squared up with the puck really nice, and I think the only way you can beat a goalie like that is to get in front of her so she hopefully doesn’t see the puck.”

Kowalchuk says he has a lot of respect for Canadian hockey, and he says Alaskan teams should play Canadians more often, because the tougher competition would challenge Alaskan youths and improve their game.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.