News: Eielson Icemen sweep Fort Wainwright Grizzlies 3-0
Story by Master Sgt. Jason Vaught
FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Shawn Roach had a strong showing in goal, stopping all 24 shots as Eielson’s Icemen hockey team swept the Fort Wainwright Grizzlies 3-0 in an exhibition game at the Big Dipper Ice Arena, Fairbanks, Alaska, Feb. 1.
The game held during Fairbanks Hockey Week Extravaganza, highlighted a friendly but passion-filled inter-service rivalry between airmen from 354th Fighter Wing and Army soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division.
With a scoreless first period, the Icemen and Grizzlies appeared to be evenly matched on the ice.
“The exhibition game gave us an opportunity to see where our team stands on a competitive level,” said Jeffery Cannon, Icemen center and team captain. “We have a few weeks in between these matches and in those few weeks, we have a lot to work on. We played well, but we need to play better as a team.”
Early in the second period, Eirik Henry, Iceman defenseman, stole the puck and scored with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle, giving the Icemen their first goal with 9:13 remaining. Two minutes later, Cody Kurkowski, center, scored the second goal of the game.
With confidence building from a 2-0 lead, the Icemen allowed two minor penalties, Nathan Brett for hooking and David Holota for tripping, giving the Grizzlies four minutes of 5-on-4 play. The Icemen rallied, however, holding the Grizzlies to 0 through 10 shots.
Throughout the game, Grizzlies goalie Travis Johnson prevented the Icemen from scoring on 24 attempts, but was unable to prevent the game-ending goal by Kurkowski whose wrap-around goal sealed the win at 3-0. Dave Peterson and Sean Reval assisted in the go-ahead goal.
Col. Jay Aanrud, 354th Fighter Wing vice commander, was in attendance rooting for the Icemen team.
“It’s always fun to play inter-service games and to be on the winning side of that competition,“ said Aanrud. “We started the game with obstacles to overcome, but we finished strong and skunked them three nothing. In hockey, that’s unbelievable.”
The Icemen will need to keep their momentum up for a face-off against the Fort Wainwright Grizzlies later this month during the coveted 18th Annual Commander’s Cup Championship Feb. 28 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Patty Center.
In a sign of things to come, the vice commander shared his vision for the game.
“We won it last year, so we’re the reigning champions,” said Aanrud. “It would be nice to keep the cup at Eielson. I have no reason to believe our Icemen will play less hard or put any less effort into it.”