The Nikiski High School hockey team had an exciting weekend, sweeping a two-game Greatland Conference series with Tri-Valley to set a new school record for wins in a season with nine.
The Bulldogs tied the school mark with a 7-1 win over the Viking Warriors Friday, then followed it up with a 4-2 win Saturday at Jason Peterson Memorial Ice Rink in Nikiski.
As satisfying as the school record is for the Bulldogs, even more impressive is the manner in which the Bulldogs were able to do it.
"One of the things we've had this season is compliments from officials and people associated with the game," Anderson said. "This team used to be the 'rough' team team of the league, but this year officials have complimented the team on playing a clean game, the way it's supposed to be played.
"I have to credit the parents, and the team as a whole has been willing to accept discipline and willing to become the class act we need to be."
Anderson spread the credit around for the season effort, from managers Emily Grimes and Jeanette Copeland making sure everything was in order behind the scenes to the players on the ice being able to adapt to fill needed roles.
"It's the team, it's the managers, the parents, the administration has been fantastic this year with having to buy ice time in Kenai," Anderson said.
Anderson said former coach Bob Bird, who has broadcast many of the team's games on local radio, visited the locker room to shake hands with every player following Saturday's win.
"He's been an extremely good supporter," Anderson said.
Brett Alleman and Lex Litzen each scored a pair of goals in Friday's game, and Litzen added a pair of assists. Luke Hardesty notched 22 saves for the win.
Anderson was especially appreciative of the play of junior Paul Kendall, who had to leave the game with a fractured wrist.
"He's come a long ways and been adaptable," Anderson said. "We've used him on defense and as a forward. He's shown a high degree of sportsmanship and contributed a lot -- one of those all-around versatile players."
In Saturday's game, Reuben Floyd scored what proved the game-winning goal with 4:10 left to play in the third period, assisted by Litzen and Nick Russell. Josh Winters added an insurance goal, and Hardesty recorded 20 saves in the win.
Anderson said Floyd was playing in his first games since separating his shoulder, and was an emotional leader for the Bulldogs as a senior playing his last home games.
The trio of Louie Oliva, Alleman and Litzen combined for the Bulldogs first two goals, with Oliva potting the first goal of the game and Alleman scoring in the second period.
The wins send the Bulldogs into the Greatland Conference tournament, slated for the Brett Memorial Ice Arena in Wasilla for Feb. 13, 14 and 15, with a No. 4 seed.
BULLDOGS 4, VIKING WARRIORS 2
Tri-Valley 0 1 1 -- 2
Nikiski 1 1 2 -- 4
First period -- 1. Nikiski, Oliva (Alleman, Litzen), 10:19. Penalties -- none.
Second period -- 2. Tri-Valley, Lynn (unassisted), 9:24; 3. Nikiski, Alleman (Floyd, Litzen), 11:14. Penalties -- Nikiski 1 for 2:00.
Third period -- 4. Tri-Valley, Jordan (unassisted), 4:43; 5. Nikiski, Floyd (Litzen, Russell), 10:50; 6. Nikiski, Winters (unassisted), 11:07. Penalties -- Tri-Valley 1 for 2:00, Nikiski 1 for 2:00.
Shots -- Tri-Valley 6-7-9--22, Nikiski 10-16-12--38.
Goalies -- Tri-Valley, Arquette (38 shots, 34 saves); Nikiski, Hardesty (22 shots, 20 saves).
BULLDOGS 7, VIKING WARRIORS 1
Tri-Valley 0 0 1 -- 1
Nikiski 3 1 3 -- 7
First period -- 1. Nikiski, Russell (Litzen, Oliva), 2:32; 2. Nikiski, Litzen (unassisted), 6:23; 3. Nikiski, Winters (Womack), 11:56. Penalties -- Tri-Valley 1 for 2:00, Nikiski 2 for 4:00.
Second period -- 4. Nikiski, Alleman (Litzen, Russell), 3:05. Penalties -- Nikiski 3 for 6:00.
Third period -- 5. Nikiski, Alleman (Womack, Winters), 7:57; 6. Tri-Valley, DeBlauw (Fillingim), 8:51; 7. Nikiski, Winters (Zundel), 9:14; 8. Nikiski, Litzen (Pepper, Abel), 13:38. Penalties -- Tri-Valley 1 for 2:00, Nikiski 2 for 4:00.
Shots-- Tri-Valley 3-8-12--23, Nikiski 11-11-9--31.
Goalies -- Tri-Valley, Arquette (31 shots, 24 saves); Nikiski, Hardesty (23 shots, 22 saves).
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