• Hanna ‘Hat Trick’ Johnson wows the crowd with scoring exhibition
By Sean Pearson
When it comes to Homer women’s hockey, apparently the seventh time is the charm.
Homer’s Divas took first place in the novice division of the USA Hockey Alaska State Tournament in Anchorage over the weekend. And, while this was their seventh year to compete in the tournament, it was their first year to come home with the championship banner.
Six teams from around the state competed in the novice division, and Homer faced a tough schedule against teams they had never played before.
The Divas kicked off tournament play Friday night against Nome, and had a strong game, despite missing two players to illness.
Emily Hutchison started the scoring for the Divas, finding the back of the net on a coast-to-coast breakaway. Chuck Flyum followed with a backdoor goal in the second period, and Karyn Noyes sealed Nome’s fate with the final goal of the game. Noyes also hammered the puck in with another straight shot from the backdoor.
Diva goalie Lydia Brown started down her familiar shutout path with her first one of the tourney.
It wouldn’t be her last.
With one win under their belt and the full team healthy, the Divas were ready for the Chieftains on Saturday morning. Homer player Ingrid Harrald said that was a good thing, as the Chieftains challenged the Divas from every direction.
The game stayed knotted at 0-0 until well into the second period. Hutchison was able to find Ori “Scori” Badajos for the signature backdoor goal the Divas have been perfecting. That would be all the scoring for the game, as Brown’s tight lid on Homer’s goal kept the score at 1-0, and earned Brown another shutout.
In the final game of regulation play late Saturday night, the Divas faced “Ice Tease” from Anchorage. Homer skaters carried on their winning streak, picking up three impressive goals in a row from Hanna “Hat Trick” Johnson.
“Hanna even got a standing ovation from the crowd,” Harrald said. “And hats fluttered down onto the ice in celebration.”
The Divas wasted no time adding a few more insurance points with a top-shelf goal off the post by defenseman Hutchison and a breakaway goal by Harrald. The game ended 5-0, with goalie Lydia Brown receiving her third shutout in the tournament.
Sunday’s championship game saw the Divas face the Chieftains once again. However, this time, the two teams would meet at 8 a.m. And, according to Harrald, this is no the time of day in which the Divas have a history of playing their finest hockey.
“We followed the coach’s mantra, ‘nothing good happens after midnight,’ so we all brought our A game to the championships,” Harrald said. “It was also good that we brought Badajos, who started off by scoring late in the first period.”
The Chieftains answered with a breakaway goal to tie the game at the end of the first period, 1-1. The second period started off rough for the Divas, until Hannah Johnson connected with Badajos for another goal to take a 2-1 lead.
Divas held onto their lead until late in the third period, when a rebound puck slipped passed goalie Lydia Brown to tie the game. Unable to recapture the lead before the end of regulation, the two teams entered a five-minute, sudden-death overtime.
Sudden death rules require play to be 4 on 4. The Divas took possession of the puck and never let go. Center Kristen Brown found Badajos at center ice just a minute into OT, and the Diva scoring machine buried the winning goal, giving Homer the 3-2 championship win.
Diva Deb Moseley said this was the most exciting championship game she had ever played.
“The other team was equally skilled and wanted to win as much as we did,” she said. “The most enjoyable games are the close ones against fun teams. This one was down to the wire and our opponents were gracious on and off the ice. I could barely handle the excitement of the last few minutes of the game because it could have gone either way.”
Tournament MVPs included: Lydia Brown, Hanna Johnson, Ori Badajos and Emily Hutchison. Harrald also recognized Diva Coach Dean Kildaw and sponsor Homer’s Jeans as being vital to the Diva’s State title.
“They all had a hand in winning the championship banner,” Harrald said. “And, after we hang it at sponsorship locations around town, we will retire it to its place of honor at Kevin Bell Arena.”
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