Crimson Bears Hosting Moose on Treadwell Arena Ice

    Eight of the 12 Crimson Bears hockey seniors, left-to-right, are Cody Kesselring, Colton Johns, Sam Bovitz, Dylan Murdoch, Cody Roomsburg, Fin Shibler, Andre Peirovi and Kyla Bentz. JDHS hosts Palmer at Treadwell Arena.

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears hockey team is on a playoff push as the Railbelt Conference rival Palmer Moose come to the Treadwell Arena ice for games on Friday (V 7:30 p.m., JV 5:30) and Saturday (V 2:30, JV 12:30).

      “Looking at the results from all of the season what we do know about Palmer is they are right there spitting a series with everybody that we have had to play and they have had to play,” JDHS coach Luke Adams said. “Their scores are very similar to ours. It is just they have a few more wins than we do.”

      Palmer is fifth in the Railbelt and JDHS sixth. The top three teams from both the Railbelt and Aurora conferences qualify for the state tournament, along with the best two teams chosen from a pool of the fourth and fifth place teams in each conference.

      “Palmer is going to be a disciplined team,” Adams said. “A hard working team that is ready to go. They are trying to lock in a spot for the playoffs and we are trying to earn one. Both teams have a lot to play for. They will have good goaltending and a deep bench. We know we have to be at our best because we are at a point in our season where it’s coming down to the end and we need to get results. We are going to throw the best at them. The kids are going to be ready. I am looking forward to it.”

      Palmer coach Dean Wilson noted the Moose are looking forward to Juneau ice.

      “We are pretty well rounded as far as our speed and overall game,” Wilson said. “We are a pretty fast team and I think it is going to be a couple of pretty good games. We have nine games left in the season and obviously we are going to try and win all of them. We have a good uphill battle going in that but we have a team that can do it. If they show up and play I think we’ll do pretty good. We have three full weekends coming up so I think fatigue is an issue we are looking at.”

      The Crimson Bears had been unable to practice Monday through Wednesday due to weather forcing school’s to close under bad road conditions. Per school district policy if that occurs sports teams cannot practice so the JDHS hockey team met virtually.

      “Just getting kids in the right mental state,” Adams said. “Making sure they are all thinking of the same things, whether that is the adjustments we need to make from the weekend, just talking through concepts, the things we know we need to focus on especially at the end of the season. On ice practice is super important but you’re working on the things you have been working on, you’re not starting new concepts. It’s doable but it is mostly about just making sure the kids know that we can still get better even if we are not on the ice. It’s about mental preparation as much or even more sometimes as the on ice stuff.”

      Adams noted the coaching staff has confidence in the Crimson Bears.

      “They are such a mature group,” he said. “We can take a deep breath and get back to it. It is about finding the silver lining in anything. Getting a few more days rest isn’t always a bad thing.”

      Virtual meeting allowed the team to verbalize what they thought was important.

      “I think the message of the mental preparation is as important as the physical preparation,” Adams said. “I think a lot of our players were getting a little worried and stressed we weren’t on the ice as a team. Just letting them know that’s alright and we can still get better and prepare with our mental game and translate those things at this point of the season is important. It was nice to have the opportunity to hear from the kids on what they wanted to work on as a unit. So we could maximize what we need to do but also make them feel like they had a voice in that as well. So they can feel comfortable going into the weekend series with just one physical practice under their belt.”

      After Palmer, JDHS finishes their season hosting Tri-Valley and Houston. Palmer Adams noted the importance of more than wins and losses.

      “I think as much as anything it is about getting the quality performance and quality effort,” he said. “Wins and losses at this point, yes they are important, but we can only do what we can do within our control. Our effort, energy and discipline, those are the things we need to focus on at this point because we are trying to get momentum heading into the last part of the season.”

      To date the DII Railbelt Conference shows standings as Houston at 6-0 Railbelt Conference and 9-2 overall; Kenai 9-4-1 RB, 11-8-1 OA; Soldotna 6-4-1 RB, 10-6-1 OA; Homer 5-6-1 RB, 6-10-1 OA; Palmer 2-3 RB, 4-5-1 OA; JDHS 1-5-1 RB, 1-5-1 OA and Kodiak 0-7 RB.

      The DII Aurora Conference shows North Pole 2-0 AC, 2-4 OA; Tri-Valley 3-3 AC, 3-5 OA; Delta 2-2 AC, 2-4 OA; Monroe 1-3 AC, 7-3 OA; and Hutchison and Glennallen are showing no competitions.

      “Every conference game we have played this season that we have lost has been by one or two goals,” Adams said. “It is not that they are fully out of reach, we just have to do a few things better to get on the other side and try to build some momentum. We definitely have some tough opponents but our kids never shy away from that.”

      The DII state hockey championships are Feb. 3-5 at Wasilla’s Curtis Menard Sports Complex. The top three teams from the Railbelt and Aurora automatically qualify. The two at-large bids are decided from a pool of the fourth and fifth place finishers in those conferences.

      The winner of the DII tournament advances to play in the DI hockey state championships Feb. 10-12 at Wasilla.

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