Category Archives: hockey

Looking sharp — Rusty Blades tourney brings out the best

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Matt Dura, No. 12, on the Kenai Rusty Blades team, drafts a member of the Mystery Alaska team, of Anchorage, during the Tier 1 Rusty Blades annual hockey tournament last weekend at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. The Kenai Rusty Blades team won the championship game Sunday.

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Matt Dura, No. 12, on the Kenai Rusty Blades team, drafts a member of the Mystery Alaska team, of Anchorage, during the Tier 1 Rusty Blades annual hockey tournament last weekend at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. The Kenai Rusty Blades team won the championship game Sunday.

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

Paul Walker could see puffs of his own breath in the cold air, proof of how hard he had just been skating, and the blood tricking from his left brow was equal evidence that even recreational-league hockey is not without risk.

“A puck to the face is a good wake-up call,” he joked.

Despite the injury, he said he was still having a great time at the adult-league Tier 1 Rusty Blades annual hockey tournament, held this weekend at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Though Walker didn’t even know the tournament existed 24 hours earlier.

“Last night was the first I heard of it,” he said Saturday, day two of the three-day tourney.

Up from Connecticut for work, Walker was asked to play after a member of the Mystery Alaska team, from Anchorage, was unable to take to the ice. Walker jumped at the chance to experience how hockey is played in a state with a lot more natural ice.

“There’s not quite as much finesse as back home. The guys here are a little stronger and faster,” he said.

The rink was much larger than he was used to playing on in the Lower 48.

“This is big ice here, which we don’t have a lot of back east. You can really stretch out and get in some longer passes,” he said.

Trevor Baldwin, Rusty Blades commissioner, said that the purpose of the event is meeting people from other areas and exchanging with them on and off the ice.

“This is a league for guys who love and have an appreciation for hockey. There’s no trophy at the end. It’s just about having fun and socializing with other teams from other areas,” he said. Continue reading

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Alaskans Ambush Las Vegas — Women’s hockey takes ice skills to the desert

By Joseph Robertia

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Alaska Ambush coaches Shannon Murray, right, and Heidi Hanson jostle for the puck during a practice scrimmage last year.

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Alaska Ambush coaches Shannon Murray, right, and Heidi Hanson jostle for the puck during a practice scrimmage last year.

Redoubt Reporter

Vegas, baby! That’s where 12 local ladies are heading this week. But not for gambling or a wild trip with the girls — at least not in the usual sense. The women, all members of the Alaska Ambush hockey team, are headed to take part in the sold-out 2013 Las Vegas Women’s Hockey Classic.

“And we’re going to win,” said Heidi Hanson, who doubles as both a player and coach for the team.
Having attended multiple Vegas tournaments over the years, Hanson remembers just a few years ago when the Kenai-Soldotna based team nearly took it all in the nine-bracket, 42-team, 71-game, three-day event.

“When we went in ’05 we were very competitive. We went into double overtime in the final game and lost by one point, and we didn’t have a team like now,” she said.

This year’s team headed to Vegas is made up of Hanson, Jenica Rose, Vicki VinZant, Dawn Lesterson, Brooke Ames, Shonia Werner, Julie Powell Tree, Lacey Wisniewski, Marcy True, Karen Martinelli, Brandi Urban and Beth Selinger. And, while there are two other teams going from Alaska, Hanson said that she has high hopes it will be the Ambush bringing home the cup.

“This year’s team is very competitive. We have a lot of strengths. So I’d be pretty surprised if we didn’t end up in the championships,” she said.

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Sugar, spice and everything ice — Women’s hockey gaining speed

By Jenny Neyman

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Alaska Ambush coaches Shannon Murray, right, and Heidi Hanson, jostle for the puck during a recent practice.

Redoubt Reporter

Someone walking into the Soldotna Sports Center the morning of Dec. 18 might not have noticed anything unusual about the hockey team practicing on the ice.

About 15 players were arranged in two scrimmage teams suited in black and gray jerseys and a mishmash of other gear — broken-in, borrowed, brand-new or approaching antique.

The teams were fairly evenly matched, though with a range of experience and skill levels from player to player — with the experienced players shaving off sprays of ice from their quick stops and nimble maneuvers, while those new to skating concentrated on staying upright and getting turned around without needing the boards for a push.

Teammates hollered when open for a pass and cheered or groaned when the puck buried in a net, depending on which net it hit. Above it all, the coach yelled a steady stream of encouragement and instructions — “Skate hard! Defense, get in position! Play it off the boards!”

Everybody wanted to win but was equally interested in having fun and improving as they were psyched with the final score.

In that, the Alaska Ambush hockey team could pass for any of the others regularly on the sports center ice, from kids’ Kenai Peninsula Hockey Association teams, to high schoolers or the adult Rusty Blades league.

But to a closer observer, there are some differences: The “hockey flow” hair extending out the backs of the helmets was much longer than even the shaggiest guys generally prefer. The mixed assortment of gear involved more instances of pink. The shouts and chatter came in a higher-pitched register, and involved pronouns not usually heard as often on the ice. Like, “she” and, “her.”

At the end of the hour, the central Kenai Peninsula’s Alaska Ambush women’s hockey team members circled up at center ice and peeled off their helmets to reveal female faces with locks of hair dampened from their hard work in practice, and pierced ears tuned to coach Shannon Murray to listen to the week’s announcements before being dismissed with a cheerful, “Good practice, ladies!” Continue reading

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Gear up for good times

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

There was no good reason for me to take up hockey.

Among the many reasons not to:

1. I don’t know how to skate. At all. As in, I’ve only worn skates a few times in my adult life — never as a kid — and every time ended with my butt and knees the same color and consistency as a pear tossed down a flight of stairs.

2. I don’t know anything about hockey. Watching the “Mighty Ducks” back when Emilio Esteves still had a career is my most extensive experience with the game.

3. It’s expensive, I had no gear and not a clue about what to buy even if I were so inclined to splurge, meaning I continue turning up my car radio to drown out the increasingly pained noises coming from the engine.

4. It’s time-consuming, when I already have a garage full of neglected hobbies and calendar of commitments I barely keep up on as it is.

But sometimes, the lack of a good reason is what makes an idea a great one. Hockey seemed to fit that category. Not, “Why?” But, “Why not?” Continue reading

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Almanac: Quirks, color add to history books’ charm

Editor’s note: This is the third of a three-part series about some of the histories that have been written concerning the people and places of the Kenai Peninsula. Part one appeared two weeks ago, and part two appeared last week. This week’s story focuses mainly on rarities and oddities in peninsula historical writings.

By Clark Fair

Redoubt Reporter

Histories of peninsula people and events have been penned many times over the last several decades. Some of those histories are readily available, and are solid, informative and interesting. Others are either just as available but a bit unusual, or are intriguing but difficult to find. Here is an assortment of each of these types:

Mostly standard fare

  • “A History of Kachemak Bay: The Country, the Communities” — by Janet Klein, published in 1987 by the Homer Society of Natural History. This is a well-written overview of the land and people of this region.
  • “Beyond Road’s End: Living Free in Alaska” — by Janice Schofield Eaton, published in 2009. This memoir centers on Eaton’s own life in the Kachemak Bay area.
  • “Kenai Peninsula Gold” — by Rob Wendt, published in 2001. This slim volume lightly covers the history of mining on the peninsula.
  • “Wolf Trail Lodge” — by Edward M. Boyd, published in 1984. This 108-page memoir relates the adventure of Boyd and his wife coming to the peninsula in the 1950s to carve out a life in the Trail Lakes area. Continue reading

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Drive toward new sales direction — Magnum Motors revs up for Brown Bears support

By Jenny Neyman

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Hockey fans at a recent Kenai River Brown Bears game try to throw hockey pucks into the open sunroof of a Saturn Coupe donated by Magnum Motors.

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Hockey fans at a recent Kenai River Brown Bears game try to throw hockey pucks into the open sunroof of a Saturn Coupe donated by Magnum Motors.

Redoubt Reporter

Though new to the central Kenai Peninsula’s business community, Magnum Motors is revving up to make a big impact, having already jumped in to be a sponsor of the Kenai River Brown Bears Junior A hockey team.

The used car company, open since July on the Sterling Highway in Soldotna, has donated a red, Saturn coupe to be used as the prize for the team’s “chuck-a-puck” fundraising contest. In between the second and third periods of every home game, hockey fans can purchase pucks and attempt to throw them into the open sunroof of the car as it does laps around the rink. One well-thrown puck is selected each game, and one name will be drawn from all those at the end of the season to win the car.

“The car will absolutely be given away. It’s not one of those insurance things or gimmicks or anything like that,” said RJ Johnson, part owner of Magnum Motors. “And it’s a nice car. Bright red. Actually, bright, bright, bright red.”

The Magnum team consists of Johnson, Travis Burnett, Ken Peterson and Lisa Duke. In order to build their business, Johnson said Magnum wants to build a reputation for being straightforward, easy to deal with and good citizens in the community, which is what led them to support the Brown Bears.

“We wanted to be more involved with the community. We wanted to do something different than anybody else had done for them,” Johnson said. “If we don’t help our own community, they’re not going to help us or support us. That’s what it’s all about in the end. If we all work together here in our community, we all support each other and we all win.” Continue reading

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Brown Bears coming out of hibernation — Hockey home stand starts this weekend

By Ed KobakBrown Bears logo Web

For the Redoubt Reporter

The Kenai River Brown Bears Junior A hockey team returns to the Soldotna Sports Center on Kalifornsky Beach Road for their home opener this weekend against the Bismarck, N.D., Bobcats.

Game time Friday and Saturday nights is 7:30 p.m.

The Brown Bears, members of the North American Hockey League, began their season on the road Sept. 11 against in-state rival Alaska Avalanche in Wasilla. From there it was on to the NAHL Showcase Tournament in Blaine, Minn., followed by road games in Manson, Iowa, against the North Iowa Outlaws, and last weekend’s three-game road set against the Wenatchee, Wash., Wild.

The Brown Bears return home after their long road swing with a 2-8-1 record to begin a 12-consecutive game home stand. The Bears play their next 18 of 21 games in Soldotna.

The Brown Bears, as members of the 19-team NAHL, play Junior A hockey, the highest level of amateur hockey outside of the college ranks in the U.S. The NAHL is an amateur developmental league that helps players transition from midget and high-school hockey to college hockey.

The primary goal of the league is to enhance the development of its players. The NAHL promotes its players to all major college programs, and to the NHL Central Scouting Bureau. The NAHL also has a Top Prospects Tournament from Jan. 18 to 20 to spotlight top NAHL talent for college coaches and NHL scouts.

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