KPHA squad wins state title

The Kenai Peninsula Hockey Association Ice Hawks U-14 Tier III squad won the Alaska State Hockey Championship on Sunday in Wasilla. The tournament included 10 teams from around the state.

The Ice Hawks started the tourney by going 3-1 in pool play, defeating South Anchorage, Homer and Juneau. Their lone loss in pool play was to the Anchorage Hockey Association Comets Team Hanson.

The 3-1 record earned the Ice Hawks the second seed out of their pool and a trip to the tourney semifinals. KPHA topped the Jr. Avs 3-0 in the semis, with goalie Will Rogers stopping 21 shots to earn his second consecutive shutout of the tournament. Cameron Knowlton lit the lamp on assists from Ian Mercado and Brodi Perkins. Baxter Cox had the other two tallies, with Jake O’Brien picking up an assist.

That win put KPHA up against AHA Team Hanson in the finals. AHA Team Hanson had not lost a game all year.

Team Hanson went up 1-0 in the first period, but Bradley Kishbaugh would have a clean sheet the rest of the way, even though he saw 24 shots in the second period.

With 20 seconds left in the game, KPHA tied the game when O’Brien uncorked a slap shot and Cox tapped in the rebound.

Due to fatigue and injuries, the overtime saw few scoring chances. But Cox converted one of those scoring chances with 12 seconds left in overtime.

Cox ended the tournament with 10 goals, while Rogers had two wins in the tourney and Kishbaugh also had two wins, including 39 saves in the title game.

Perkins had the only two goals against Juneau and had three assists for the tourney. Jace Urban had two goals and an assist, while Knowlton had a goal, O’Brien had two assists, Hensley had two assists, Cole Crandall had an assist, and Mercado added an assist.

The team will be recognized between periods Friday when the Kenai River Brown Bears take on the Fairbanks Ice Dogs at the Soldotna Sports Center. That game starts at 7:30 p.m.

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