By JEREMIAH BARTZ
PALMER — Soldotna and Palmer were ready to play eight minutes of extra hockey. But thanks to Galen Brantley III, the Stars needed only eight seconds.
Brantley III scored on the first shift of the additional frame to give the Stars a 3-2 overtime win over the Moose on Wednesday night at the MTA Events Center in Palmer.
“Close game like that, any kind of mistake, you can end up losing the game,” Palmer head coach Dean Wilson said after the loss.
SoHi center Braxton Urban won the opening draw of overtime, and dropped a pass back to Brantley III, and he did the rest. Brantley skated up the left side of the ice and lifted a backhander that glanced off the bottom of the crossbar to stun the Moose.
This is after Palmer forced the extra period with a pair of unanswered goals, including the game-tying score with just less than three minutes left with regulation. As SoHi skated on the power play late in the game, Palmer senior Darian Wilson forced a turnover on the forecheck at the left side of the SoHi net. Wilson picked up the puck, wrapped around the backside of the goal and tucked a shot just inside the right post. Wilson’s goal came off of one of at least three turnovers forced by the Moose forecheck late in the game.
“They were flying around out there,” Dean Wilson said of his team’s play on the defensive end.
Wilson said Palmer’s ability to win battles in the neutral zone was also key in comeback.
“We were trying to turn things around at neutral ice,” Wilson said. “Regroups are way better than breakouts.”
Quick scores were a theme for SoHi throughout the night. Soldotna took a lead less than two minutes into regulation. Defenseman Lucas Kline moved the puck from the right point to just inside the left circle where Alex Montague snapped a quick shot above the reach of Palmer goalie TJ O’Rourke with 13:17 to play in the first period. Early in the second, Brantley III needed only seven seconds of Soldotna’s first power play of the game to push his team’s advantage to a pair.
Brantley III took a pass at the top of the zone, skated between the circles, and tucked a shot right underneath the crossbar to give Soldotna the 2-0 lead.
Palmer cut SoHi’s lead in half late in the second period. Nathan Hooks knocked in a rebound from the right side of the crease with 1:50 left in the middle frame to put the Moose on the board.
Wednesday’s game marked the first meeting of the season between the old North Star Conference rivals in the new Railbelt Conference.
“I think it’s a lot more even,” Wilson said of the new Division II conference, which also includes Kenai Central, Homer, Houston and Juneau.
Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at email@example.com
Soldotna 3, Palmer 2 OT
Wednesday, MTA Events Center
First period — 1. Soldotna- A. Montague (Kline, Skalnick) 13:17.
Second period — 2. Soldotna- Brantley III (Urban, Schelzenbach) pp 10:14; 3. Palmer- Hooks (Horacek, Hayes) 1:50.
Third period — 4. Palmer- Wilson (unassisted) sh 2:49.
Overtime — 5. Soldotna- Brantley III (Urban) 7:52.
Shots on goal: Soldotna 9-2-9-1—21, Palmer 6-7-10-0—23; Saves: Soldotna- Wirz 6-6-9-0—21, Palmer- O’Rourke 8-1-9-0—18.