Icemen shoot down Grizzlies in Commander's Cup hockey game
By Tech. Sgt. William Farrow , 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 18, 2007
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
With service pride at stake, the Eielson Icemen outscored the Fort Wainwright Grizzlies 8-6 to take possession of the 11th annual Commander's Cup following a hockey match-up at Fairbanks' Big Dipper Ice Arena Saturday.
Eielson leads the series 6-5 in a derby game held annually since 1996. Last winter's match-up was cancelled due to heavy Fort Wainwright deployments.
With a hat trick from Roger Brown and two goal efforts from Jacob Mousseau, the high-flying Air Force squad kept penetrating the Grizzlies zone and bounced back from an early 2-1 deficit to finally take a 3-2 lead in the second period.
However, every time the Icemen took the lead, the Grizzlies clawed their way back in game, coming from a two goal deficit twice and tying the game three times.
"The Grizzlies players were relentless," said Eielson team captain Dan Morin. "We had to play 60 minutes of hockey at full throttle to get what goals we had," he said.
Playing catch-up in the final period, the Grizzlies saw a comeback until Eielson's Phil Clifton notched a short-handed goal with less than three minutes to go to put the game away. Clifton notched two goals in the tilt.
With 14 goals scored, goaltenders from each side saw their share of breakaways and two-on-ones ensuring subsequent rebound opportunities from each team.
"Both teams had some real fast forwards," Morin said. "Anytime your forward line of skaters can penetrate through the defense as both teams were able to do, the result is a high scoring game. Most hockey fans love high-scoring games and this game was definitely a crowd pleaser."
Another crowd plaser was the physical play as the Grizzlies black jerseys and Eielson's blue jerseys collided with the competitive energyof an intense rivalry.
"As with most hockey games, the physical part of the game is determined as the game takes on its own personality," Morin said. "The hitting started early in the first period and I knew we had to keep our heads up for this one. When you have a few extra pushes after the whistle, you know the energy level is very high.
Morin said he believed Eielson's seasoned defensemen were well suited for physical play. "I think we did have that edge on our side," he said.
The game celebrated opening day of Hockey Week in Fairbanks, and more than 200 fans cheered on their teams.
Fort Wainwright won the first three games of the series, but Eielson has rallied to take six of the last eight contests.
"I'm proud that we came together as a team," Morin said. "I've played in Armed Forces games for more than 20 years and this game ranks as one of the best."