Sports -- March 01, 2007

Published on Thu, Mar 1, 2007
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SPORTS
by Jack Kintner

Hockey players win state second time around

Blaine high school junior Danny Dougan and sophomores Philip Harzelak and Michael Matichuk won their second consecutive state championship on Presidents Day for the Whatcom Warriors hockey team.

Not only that, but Dougan was named tournament MVP after posting a 4-1 record over the weekend and stopping a key shot on goal in the championship game, played in Kennewick’s spacious Toyota Center, home to the western hockey league’s Tri-City Americans.

Dougan’s father John is a White Rock native who played goalie for the Bellingham Blazers and for Ohio State from 82-85. Danny has played since he was seven and began playing in goal seven years ago.

“It was tough, tougher than last year,” said team captain and Bellingham high school senior Matt Parsons, who will play next year for Montana State University. In the 2006 state tournament the Warriors were a virtual lock on the top spot going in with such talented seniors as Alex Valenti and Trent Hanson, both of whom are gone.

This year some observers felt that just placing would be a victory for the Warriors.

“No one saw us coming this year,” said Parsons, “which is why it meant so much. We weren’t sure of winning until the end of the last game.”

The tournament began with a round robin tournament in which the Warriors beat the host team from the Tri-Cities as well as the Tacoma representative on Saturday, February 17.

The next day they lost in overtime to the Seattle junior hockey team and then beat another Seattle team, the Sno-Kings, 9-0 to advance to the championship game.

Seattle opened the scoring in the second period but momentum quickly shifted toward the Warriors when Dougan stopped a Seattle penalty shot a few minutes later. Such shots are awarded when a player is fouled on the way to the goal. The offensive player then faces the goalie alone, and though goals are not quite as automatic in those situations as they are in soccer, it’s a tough situation for the goalie.

But Dougan stopped the shot, and a few minutes later both Matichuk and Anacortes junior Alexander Thompson scored to put the Warriors in the lead 2-1 going into the third period.

Parsons’ younger brother Greg scored to increase the Warrior lead to two, and they held on for the rest of the period despite a late Seattle goal to win 3-2.

The warriors are coached by former Vancouver Canuck Dave Bruce, whose ten-year NHL career also includes stints with the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks. Their season runs for nine months, from September through the spring.

Because of their location close to Vancouver they play in both American and Canadian leagues, though team members are required to be U.S. residents.

Last weekend they beat the New Westminster Royals 6-3 playing in the President’s Cup tournament, but instead of continuing on with that they left Wednesday for southern California to play in a five-state regional tournament that their state championship qualified them for.

The winner of that will go to a national play-off in Michigan. Last year the Warriors finished third in the region among teams from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California.

Blaine’s basketball season ends in twin losses

Both Blaine basketball teams bowed out of post-season competition last weekend in loser-out games played on the opponent’s court.

The boys lost 70-54 to a tough 18-2 Granite Falls team and the girls lost to Cedarcrest by seven, 56-49, after holding the lead for all but the last two minutes of play. Unlike Blaine, both opponents are dominated by seniors.

The Lady B’s lost the lead with just 2:18 to play on a trey that put Cedarcrest up by one. Blaine then missed on their next possession and Cedarcrest hit another trey to go up by four.

Blaine worked the score back up to tie and then Bailey Richardson stole the ball. She ran the length of the court for a lay-in and was whacked for a defensive foul that would have put Blaine up by three, but instead she was called for an offensive foul, negating the basket and giving the ball back to Cedarcrest, who scored to go up by two points, a five point whistle-generated swing.

Blaine’s Alyssa Hendrickson penetrated twice more but despite being blocked one time and flattened the other no fouls were called, and Cedarcrest coasted to the win. Kellee Harbst had her tenth double-double in the last 13 games as she inherits the leadership role from Alyssa Hendrickson for next year’s team.

The boys ran into probably one of the best Granite Falls teams ever to come out of the foothills of Mt. Pilchuck with a one-two punch of Josh Knutson and 6-foot 4 Sean Counley, who combined for 47 points. Blaine had the score tied after one quarter at 11, but in the second fell behind by 10 as Joey Paciorek ran into early foul trouble. All six second quarter fouls were called against the Borderites.

Playing without Paciorek for the most part in the third. Blaine outscored Granite Falls 18 to 11 to pull within three points, but in the fourth Paciorek was called for his fifth and last foul after just a minute of play.

Mike Pianki kept Blaine in the game with a stellar 29 point performance that included shooting a hot 13 out of 16 free throws. Blaine has this season’s league leading field goal shooter in Joey Paciorek and free-throw shooter in Nate Tewalt who, when injured late in the Granite Falls game, continued to make buckets from the charity stripe with his left hand.

This year’s teams finished with similar records, the boys at 4-9 for sixth place in league and an over-all record of 7-13, and the girls 5-8 in league for sixth and 6-15 over-all.

The girls had just two seniors, Hendrickson and Katie Ross, and the boys had four, only two of whom, Paciorek and Pianki, saw a lot of minutes.

In this first year of a much tougher league, where Blaine is one of the smallest schools in the double-AA classification, the Borderites acquitted themselves well in what was a building year.

Both will now play in spring and summer leagues, including the boys annual June tournament.