“Great moments are born from great opportunity”
Herb Brooks USA “Miracle On Ice” Head Coach
A small-town team with big time dreams embraced their moments in time together. The fact that they earned the opportunity was a miracle in itself. In the year of COVID nothing was assured, every opportunity seemed fragile, and opposition was staring in the face of the kids’ chances to play hockey this season. Last season ended early with the closure of the hockey rink and without an outpouring of community support and levelheaded City Council decision making, fears of a year without hockey were a reality. Our little 10 player roster took those fears in stride and never stopped believing things would get better. The Huskies hockey players are consistently challenged to dream big, work hard, and foster an unrelenting pursuit of their goals. Hope from our 12U (12 years old and younger) inspired a chain of events that lead them to an invincible resolve enabling them to embrace all challenges.
At first glance the team appears undermanned (smallest roster size of any team at state), undersized (over half the team is under 90 pounds), and underage (only three of the players were second year 12U with three of the 10 being 10). The Husky team had a medley of players that created a wonderfully fun and nuanced dynamic that somehow just works. Let me introduce you to the crew starting with our 11 year old goalie!
Emily Ketschek: If you happen to see Emily at the rink with her gear off and taking a break from shutting down breakaways you’ll find her chasing after the 8U kids giggling up a storm, while her eyes are gleaming with the joy of childhood free play. Truly one of the sweetest, most nurturing hearts on a kid you’ll ever see. She possesses a deep caring for her team that has led her to be a State Champion netminder two years in a row! She rises to the occasion when her team needs her the most and stands tall in the face of blistering adversity.
Justing Galacia: Justing is in all likelihood the best overall athlete walking the streets in our little town! Don’t believe me? Challenge him to race a 5k, or a jujitsu match, or sprint around the basepaths, or one on one in basketball, or perhaps you can ask him about the MVP puck he earned enroute to helping his team’s efforts at 12U State. Did I mention this is his first year putting skates on?
Hunter Meyer: If Hunter Meyer doesn’t become a coach someday I’d be shocked. Hunter is the soft-spoken player that is breaking down the analytical side of the process while marinating in the barbaric chaos that is the game of hockey. It’s quite shocking at how calm he always seems to be out on the ice even when little armored bodies are zooming about on blades of steel and with clubs in their hands. I think he was the last one to doff the armor after the championship game! Marinating in that moment left little doubt that Hunter was at the right moment and time in life.
Ryan Hudgin: He’s the teammate you want on your side. Our biggest player that possesses a heart of gold and a willingness to do whatever it takes to help his team succeed. Whether he’s orating a colorful pregame pep talk or taking on the other team’s biggest player at the net front, you’ll see the same expression on Ryan’s face...a giant ear to ear grin. He loves his team and trust me, he’s not afraid to fight for it or tell you about it!
Magnus Sanford: Magnus moved to Delta from Kodiak just for hockey. It’s not a joke, I’m not kidding, and neither is he. Magnus takes hockey very seriously. He is one of our three 10U players playing at a 12U level because, well, he’s that good and our program is that small! Magnus is a Scotty Gomez style player that possesses the puck with the ferocity of a honey badger. A competitor that so smoothly goes about doing his job that he can make you forget he’s only 10 busting spin-o-rama moves on kids twice his size!
Clara Creviston: Clara is the voice of the team. If you’ve attended a game then you’ve heard the husky credo “HUSTLE, HIT, NEVER QUIT”! Nobody craves to say those words more in the huddle than Clara. If you’ve seen her play you’ll know she means every word, every time, with every fiber of her being. Watch her play sometime and you may just start to second guess if you’re watch a young 11-year-old girl with a hockey stick or a marauding gladiator wielding a battle axe! I’ve seen boys twice her size succumb to that viscous attack more than I can count and I honestly can’t get enough!
Quin Pinkelman: Q-Ball as I like to call him is another part of our 10U three headed monster...literally the biggest part! (3rd biggest player on the 12U team). When Quin gets his motor rolling, he is literally an unstoppable force of momentum on the ice. I’ve never seen another skater his age and his size, skate as smooth as Quin. Quin is a natural leader and game manager. Picture Tom Brady on skates, it is no surprise that he found a powerful role for our team as a defenseman quarterbacking our attack.
Evan Zachgo: Have you ever pondered the idea of a warrior artist? Come watch Evan play hockey for the huskies and you’ll find the definition of exactly what it means. The third part of our 10U three headed monster, Evan plays with a competitive fire that is only overshadowed by his skating confidence and control. Evan is the Swiss Army Knife for the Huskies, and he has a competitive fire that keeps him constantly pushing the bar of performance for himself and the Husky players. When the Huskies need that competitive fire the most, Evan always burns bright! The team leader in drawing penalties, the Evan fire is impossible to extinguish despite opposing teams’ best efforts!
Brady Zachgo: As one of our teams two captains, Brady is our lead dog and plays like a cheetah manically chasing its next meal. A player with boundless spirit and energy that accepts nothing less than the constant pursuit of perfection. The skills Brady can routinely execute at high rates of acceleration and speed inspire those who play alongside him. He is not only the team’s most skilled assassin, but he also is the team’s hardest working player. All who watched Brady play at the state tournament saw him break the bar for playing with “HEART”! Our team responds well to Brady’s fanatical commitment to success because his relentless effort is just plain intoxicating. He provided a model approach to leading by example and is an absolute joy to watch!
Anthony Lansing: Our captains are two of the three 12U players on the team and are shouldered with the responsibility for leading the team. If Brady is our lead dog at the front of the pack Anthony is the Alpha wolf keeping the pack safe while leading from behind. The “Arabian Stallion” consistently led the team in minutes played. He is a freakishly strong player with exceptional speed and a blistering shot that found the netting regularly. If you want to see how a lion would chase down an antelope on ice come watch Anthony bearing down on a would be attacker headed towards the Husky net. Anthony afforded the team a level of calm confidence similar to how I would imagine a giant sheep dog would provide to their respective flock. Anthony’s calm demeanor and mature presence on and off the ice set a drum beat the whole team could march to.
The special dynamic of players bloomed a team that went 6 and 0 in the state tournament! The small team that dared to dream big put together an explosion of offensive pressure that led all tournament teams in scoring! They knew they were short on players and committed themselves to spending their energy in the offensive zone. Three of the six games were elimination games, which put the Huskies in a win or go home position for half the tournament. Pressure mounted on the team to perform when they discovered they would be facing a long-standing rival from Tok named the interior Heat. The Heat team is comprised of selected players from different small-town communities, and has been known to recruit players from Tok, Glennallen, Healy, Barrow, and even Delta! Our little Husky team has lost valued players over the years due to the recruiting practices of the Heat, which has contributed to our small team size. The Husky players were all too aware that some of their classmates would be facing off against them in the highly anticipated championship contest. A swirl of anticipation and mixed emotions only fed the bond the Husky team had developed throughout the COVID crazy year. The unity and strength earned through hours of persistent and unifying training shining through in a grinding performance culminating in a State Championship Trophy. Well deserved, sweat equity earned, and heartfelt fought for, the final results were the Delta Huskies 3 the Heat 2. The Delta team out shot the Heat 29-14 and stayed true to their stylistic strategy of the best defense is a good offense. Brady Zachgo got the scoring started by slashing through the Heat team to sneak in a slippery “five hole” score. Brady Zachgo led the team in offensive chances in spite of a clear emphasis by the Heat to shut down number eigh. As the Heat goalie seemed to carry a hefty burden of the team on her shoulders, her efforts were bolstered by the exceptional defensive effort by a former Delta player. Her solid play stood out as she was the top defensive player for the Heat and earned herself MVP honors. Defensive efforts in a low scoring contest are not directly measured on the stat sheet but just by taking the shot totals into account one can measure the quantity of attacks that broke through. Anthony Lansing’s leadership on defense led the Husky team as the Heat players seem to run out of space quickly before ever getting enough time for creative opportunities. The defensive discipline of Pinkelman and Lansing led to a considerable wall that the Heat had trouble breaking through. There’s no doubt the collective effort on defense was bolstered by the hounding backcheck from forwards like Creviston, Hudgins, Galacia, and Meyer. Forecheck, backcheck, paycheck...that’s a saying well known in hockey and the Huskies owned their individual responsibilities on the ice. Delta would add to their scoring tally in the second period of the game as Evan Zachgo carried a stealthy coast to coast zone entry to the net front and buried an aggressively challenged one legged shot past the Heat netminder. The Heat answered back in the 3rd period by netting a goal on a bouncing seeing eye backhand that snuck by the right leg pad of the Huskies’ goalie. It would not be the last challenge for Ketschek as the Heat sent 8 of their 14 shots towards the Delta net in the final period. It just so happened that the Husky keeper was focused for the challenge and stopped all but two of the Heats desperate attempts to claw back into the battle. Delta answered with an additional tally of their own on a rebound opportunity forced home by the slippery Magus Sanford which would result in the decisive score for the dog pack! A fitting finish to a fabulous season for a fantastic team, with crucial support from family and friends alike.
The Husky team is led by Head Coach Wesley Pinkelman, Skills Coach Jeff Sanford, Goalie Specialist Les Freidas and Assistant Coach Chris Zachgo. Ask any of the coaches about the pure joy it is to be a part of this team and you will know how thankful they truly are for the players, parents, and hockey family support near and far that allowed this small team’s dream to run to take shape!