A hockey team from Petersburg took the top spot in the B division of a recent tournament in Juneau. The team also had the forward MVP for the ice hockey tournament and they’re already thinking about defending their title a year from now.

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Seven of the skaters on this year’s Petersburg’s Whalers were local residents who practice twice a week on rollerblades and the wooden floor of the community gym. The team picked up other members from Juneau and Seattle.

Photo courtesy of Gregg Kowalski

Gregg Kowalski was named forward MVP for the Rainforest Classic XII Old Timers Ice Hockey Tournament early this month. “It was fantastic. We look forward to next year so we can defend our cup. For a bunch of guys that rollerblade and go up there and take it on the B level on the ice was quite a feat.”

Kowalski had six goals on the weekend, including four in one game. He says it’s a little bit of a change to swap out the wooden court for the ice rink. “It is as far as the skating goes. The skill and the puck handling, it’s a little faster but you know, I do the same moves on the goalies here as I did up there. They score here and they score up there.”

The Whalers skated against teams from Juneau, Anchorage and Palmer. They won three games and lost one to the eventual A division winner from Anchorage.

Derrick O’Soup played center on the third line for the team. He says it was fun to see the team improve from game to game. “After the fourth game the guys kinda came together as a team. From the first game we were kind of running around get to know one another, learning our positions and that sort of thing but the fourth game it was great to see out there, everybody knew who their line mates were and stuff, we were moving the puck pretty good. It was great to see us come along that far in just a short while.”

Besides O’Soup, Kowalski and Kurt Wohlhueter, other Petersburg skaters were Kalin Pitta-Rosse, Eric Larson, Steve Penrose and Adam Petersen who plays forward and enjoyed his time in Juneau. “To tell the truth just getting out there and skating on real ice, that was the best part for me,” says Petersen. “It was obviously fun to win but it was fun to get out there and skate competitively. To compete against someone else besides your own group? Yeah well there’s that too, although Anchorage’s team was pretty good and they kinda handed it to us. But it was fun to play against them too.”

The Whalers have won the B division in prior years in Juneau. Fresh off their latest win the group is back on rollerblades in the community gym and like teammate Adam Petersen dreaming of one day having their own home ice.
“It’d be really neat if we had a hockey rink here. But I know it costs a lot of money. But maybe somewhere down the road, you never know…”