In Friday action at the Peninsula Ice Challenge at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, Peninsula teams continued to show they are evenly matched.
Area squads also continued to show they are no match for Eagle River.
The Wolves, who defeated Kenai 6-0 on Thursday, kept right on rolling with a 7-2 decision over Soldotna Friday.
In the late game, Homer, which had lost 4-3 to Soldotna on Thursday, notched a 2-1 overtime victory over Kenai.
Eagle River jumped on the Stars with three goals in the first 5 minutes, 5 seconds, of play.
Schuyler Davis had two goals and an assist in the assault, en route to a hat trick. Kyle Johnson had the other goal, and Degan Mullins would add another tally before the period was through for a 4-0 lead.
“We’re not a big team but we have a lot of speed, so we rely on speed,” Eagle River coach Bill Comer said. “We’ve been working on quick passes, and I think we surprise some teams.”
The Wolves definitely caught the Stars with their guard down.
“We just came out flat,” Soldotna coach Derek Urban said. “We weren’t moving our feet. We were spectators more than players.”
Urban was happy with the way the players responded to the poor first period.
“In between periods we talked about staying within the system and moving your feet,” the coach said.
Eagle River opened the second period with goals by Ben Rinckey and Jesse Johnson, but Ty Fenton closed the period with a power-play goal, assisted by Coel Nelson and Calvin Hills.
Things got a little chippy after the horn sounded in the second period, with Eagle River ending the period with eight infractions for 25 minutes. SoHi had one two-minute penalty in the frame.
“It’s hard to stick with the game plan when you get a big lead,” Comer said. “All of a sudden everybody wants to score and things get a little lighter on the bench.
“Then the other team gets frustrated.”
Comer and Urban got their teams to skate the third period without incident.
But Eagle River spent the first five minutes of the third killing off a 5-on-3 power play and 1:50 after that killing a 5-on-4.
The Wolves did not allow a shot during that time.
“They’re still quick on the puck, even if they are 5-on-3,” Comer said of his squad.
Urban said his team has worked on the power play this season, but inexperience showed during the third period.
“It was good for the young kids to see that speed,” Urban said. “Some have only played Bantam hockey and they’re learning that high school hockey is not Bantam hockey.”
Fenton showed some speed of his own with a breakaway goal at the 5:52 mark of the third, while Davis finished up his hat trick with a power-play strike with under a minute to play.
Trent Burnham had 22 saves for the Wolves, while Billy Yoder had 14 for the Stars. Urban also credited Justice Miller with a solid game on defense and Ethan Brown with a solid game on offense.
Homer 2, Kenai 1, OT
Kiril Sanarov scored with 1:21 left in the eight-minute overtime to hand Kenai goalie Nate O’Lena a tough loss.
Thursday, O’Lena had 49 saves on 55 shots, a fact Homer coach John Carlin wasn’t exactly broadcasting to his team.
“I didn’t want them to know they were facing a ’tender that had just stopped that many shots,” Carlin said.
But O’Lena remained hot nonetheless, keeping the Kards in the game as the team wore down. He finished with 46 saves, while Riley Swanson had 27 stops for the Mariners.
O’Lena had 10 saves on 10 shots in the first period, 15 saves on 14 shots in the second, and 15 on 15 in the third. He then stopped the first seven shots of overtime.
“He’s our veteran goaltender,” Kenai coach Mike Tilly said. “Nate’s been in some pretty big games. He’s a good leader of the team.”
With just five seconds left in the third period, Sanarov swooped in on goal with a defender draped on him, and O’Lena was able to extend the game.
Then just five seconds into the overtime, Charlie Menke had a breakaway that O’Lena turned away.
The Mariners finally solved him the way any hot goalie is solved — get a bunch of traffic in front of the net and start whacking at the puck.
Garrett Butcher and Robbie Larson also were at the doorstep when Sanarov scored.
“He’s one of our seniors,” Carlin said of Sanarov. “He missed last night, and tonight he was spot-shifted, so he was fresh.”
The Kards came out solid early in the game. With Homer on the power play, Dalton Dosko stole the puck and broke out into a 2-on-1, finding Cody Arbelovsky for the goal.
Like O’Lena, Tilly said Dosko and Arbelovsky have plenty of varsity experience and played like it.
But Tilly said many on his team are still learning how physically and mentally draining a season can be. He compared them to a bottle rocket that goes off and loses its energy in a flash.
“The younger players are very energetic, but they have to remember there is a third period,” Tilly said.
After playing with what he called his dirty dozen last season, Carlin has more depth this year. He has eight seniors and about a dozen promising freshmen.
That depth began to turn the tide in the second period, when Owen Delehanty scored on assists from Ulian Kuzmin and Clem Tillion. It was already Tillion’s fourth assist of the season.
“This was a great tournament to get invited to,” Carlin said. “I feel like we’re pretty even with Soldotna and Kenai.
“It’s going to make for some fun games.”
Mariners 2, Kardinals 1, OT
Homer 0 1 0 1 —2
Kenai 1 0 0 0 —1
First period — 1. Kenai, Arbelovsky (Dosko), sh, 4:45. Penalties — Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 2. Homer, Delehanty (U. Kuzmin, C. Tillion), 8:01. Penalties — Homer 1 for 2:00; Kenai 2 for 4:00.
Third period — none. Penalties — none.
Overtime — 3. Homer, Sanarov (Butcher, Larson), 6:39. Penalties — none.
Shots on goal — Homer 10-15-15-8—48; Kenai 11-10-5-2—28.
Goalies — Homer, Swanson (28 shots, 27 saves); Kenai, O’Lena (48 shots, 42 saves).
Wolves 7, Stars 2
Eagle River 4 2 1 —7
Soldotna 0 1 1 —2
First period — 1. Eagle River, Davis (K. Johnson, J. Johnson), 1:57; 2. Eagle River, Davis (K. Johnson, J. Johnson), 4:45; 3. Eagle River, K. Johnson (Davis), 5:05; 4. Eagle River, Mullins (un.), 10:47. Penalties — Soldotna 2 for 4:00; Eagle River 3 for 6:00.
Second period — 5. Eagle River, Ben Rinckey (Annis), 8:39; 6. Eagle River, J. Johnson (un.), 9:50; 7. Soldotna, Fenton (Nelson, Hills), pp, 13:31. Penalties — Soldotna 1 for 2:00; Eagle River 8 for 25:00.
Third period — 8. Soldotna, Fenton (un.), 9:08; 9. Eagle River, Davis (Linn, Canterbury), pp, 14:29. Penalties — Eagle River 2 for 4:00; Soldotna 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal — Eagle River 9-6-6—21; Soldotna 8-10-6—24.
Goalies — Eagle River, Burnham (24 shots, 22 saves); Soldotna, Yoder (21 shots, 14 saves).