North Pole, Monroe Hockey lace up for DII State Championships
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The first high school state championship hosted by the Alaska School Activities Association since October is set to start on Thursday. The Curtis Menard Sports Complex in Wasilla will host the 2021 ASAA First National Cup Division II Hockey State Championships February 18-20 to wrap up the prep hockey season in Interior, Alaska.
An official Division I State Championship was canceled after the Cook Inlet Conference in Anchorage elected to compete in the spring. Fairbanks DI programs West Valley and Lathrop have been competing throughout January and February against other local schools.
The Monroe Catholic Rams and the North Pole Patriots, of the Division II’s Aurora Conference, each bussed to the Matanuska-Susitna Valley Wednesday in preparation for the tournament, something they have been uncertain of since the pandemic.
“It is pretty awesome, there is relief for them,” said Rams head coach Carlos Rojas. “It has been paramount for their pleasure, drive to play and commitment to their teammates and as far as what our school believes in, which is family.”
Rojas became the head coach after Monroe’s 2018 DII State Championship season when the four current seniors, Dom Coiley, Lane Lennet, Sophia Fowler and Garren Nicholson, were freshmen. Rojas could see the senior class replicating their freshman season.
“I asked all the parents recently [about what makes this team special] and pretty much the standout statement was; they play as a team and they show preservice no matter what the situation on the ice was. They’re the kids that coaches want to coach.” he added.
North Pole celebrated three seniors Tuesday’s matchup against the Tri-Valley Viking Warriors with Kody Genz, Katy Vinton and Mason Wilbur skating in their last high school game at the Polar Ice Arena. In a defensive battle, the Patriots skated away with a 1-0 victory thanks to an Austin Manns goal with just two and a half minutes remaining in the contest. Vinton had 14 saves in the shutout victory on senior night.
With four games under their belt (2-2, 2-0 conference) the Rams will face the Soldotna Stars at 10 a.m. Thursday to kickstart the eight-team tournament. Following Monroe’s first round matchup, the Patriots will take on the Kenai Central Kardinals at 1 p.m., before the Homer Mariners square off against the Houston Hawks. The Palmer Moose and Tri-Valley will conclude day one, where the winners will advance to the semifinals before the championship game Saturday at 1 p.m. Those who do not advance in the first round will play one consolation game before wrapping up their season. All games will be streamed at www.nfhsnetwork.com/playoffs/state/alaska.
Copyright 2021 KTVF. All rights reserved.