PUBLISHED: 2:29 PM on Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Juneau Peewees win gold in Whitehorse hockey tourney

Photo courtesy of Lance Miller
  The Juneau Peewees overcame a tough travel schedule and a tough tournament schedule to win the first hockey tournament attended by a Juneau team.
Superb teamwork, forechecking, team defending and passing made the difference for the Juneau Peewee hockey team when the 11-12-year-olds as the first team out of Juneau represented the Capital City in a competitive tournament in Whitehorse, Yukon on March 4-6.

But the win came on the tail end of a trip that proved to be an endurance test for the sixteen Juneau players. After arriving by ferry in Skagway at 12:44 am on Saturday, they all woke up at 6:40 to drive to Whitehorse and played three games on Saturday. The Juneau team won the first one against the Dawson Boys with 9-0. Three hours later, they beat the Dawson Girls with 14-5, and last, three hours after the second game started., lost against Watson Lake 3-6.

By the third game against Watson Lake the skaters were dead on their feet due to the games and long travel time,. However, their strong showing in the first two games put Juneau in the final championship game on Sunday.

Photo courtesy of Lance Miller
  Juneau Peewees face off on the ice during the teams successful tournament in Whitehorse.
Juneau came out strong on Sunday when they beat Watson Lake 3-2 to win the gold medal in their division. The team played as a unit on the ice with players contributing in many ways that didn't show up on the score sheet, such as tenacious defending, hustle, and encouraging teammates.That attitude carried off the ice as well to make the first Juneau youth hockey participation in a tournament a great success.

A total of nine teams, including five teams from Whitehorse, a Watson lake team, a Dawson boys' team and a Dawson girls' team, participated in the tourney. The Juneau, Watson Lake and Dawson teams played in the outlying communities division separate from the Whitehorse teams. The Whitehorse teams were placed in another division because of their larger population base compared to the other Yukon communities.

The winning Juneau Peewees team consisted of Rhett Bennett, Zach Bicknell, Anthony Boyd, Cole Carnahan, Zane Chapman, Garret Cheeseman, Jake Eames, Sam Greene, Trever Held, Zander Hoke, Taylor Lehnhart, Logan Miller, Mario Perez, Nick Rutecki, Eric Verrelli and Matt Whistler.

The team would like to thank the Yukon Amateur Hockey Association for allowing them to attend and also for changing the game schedule to accommodate their travel, which prohibited the team from arriving Friday due to the ferry schedule. Coaches for the Juneau Peewees were Lance Miller, Mario Perez, Tom Rutecki, and Chip Verrilli. Miller and and Verilli worked with the forwards and Rutecki and Perez worked with the defensemen.

Additional Thank Yous go to the team sponsors from Juneau which include: USKH, the Juneau Gun Club, Alaska Vision Center, Faulkner Banfield, P.C., Nugget Alaskan Outfitters, Dr. Sharon Fisher and Valley Lumber.

The Juneau peewee hockey program is part of the Juneau Douglas Ice Association which presently has approximately 200 participants in youth hockey. Since the sport of hockey is new and growing in Juneau now is a great time to get involved, even if you have not played before there is a "learn to play hockey" program designed as an introduction. In addition scholarships and loaner gear is available. Just come to the rink and see a game or two. More information can be found on line at

Stay tuned for the results of the 6-8 year olds who played in the Yukon atoms/mites tournament in Haines Junction this past weekend.