Fans that came expecting another shootout between Homer and Kenai Central like last Friday’s 7-5 score at the End of the Road Shootout tournament were left disappointed Tuesday night.
The Homer Mariners were not, as they skated off with a 12-2 Railbelt Conference victory over the Kardinals at the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facillity.
Homer (1-0 conference, 3-3-1 overall) iced its first conference contest of the season early with a six-goal outburst in the first period, including two power-play strikes.
“Before the game the message I gave the guys was we’re supposed to be a pretty darn good team,” said Homer head coach Steve Nevak.
The Mariners were led by junior Tyler Gilliland, who netted four goals himself. Gilliland said Homer’s strategy didn’t change much from Friday.
“We just shot a lot more,” he said. “Good positioning … the freshman and sophomores are really stepping up.”
The Mariners also got a hat trick from Alden Ross and two goals each from Ethan Pitzman and Aiden Arno. Pitzman, just four days removed from scoring six on Kenai, spent more time Tuesday directing Homer’s offensive attack as the junior skater had four assists to go with his pair of scoring strikes.
Kenai head coach Jacob Newton said the team was aware of Pitzman’s stealth, but he was more concerned with their finishing.
“It’s amazing to see such a lopsided score in such an even game,” Newton said. “Homer was able to finish out their opportunities and we couldn’t.”
Kenai (0-1 conference, 0-7 overall) got goals from Jacob Begich and Jordan Knudsen, and started Jackson Cross in goal but finished with Carson Koppes for the final two periods. Cross stopped 9 of 15 shots and Koppes warded off 17 of 23.
Homer outscored Kenai 6-0 in the first period but held a much less lopsided 15-10 shots advantage in the period. The Mariners netted four more goals in the second but outshot Kenai 17-6.
Pitzman picked up where he left off Friday by scoring the first goal of the night just 22 seconds into the contest. Gilliland then added to the lead midway through the period on a crash to the net, and Isaiah Nevak made it 3-0 less than two minutes later.
Nevak’s goal sparked a four-goal explosion from Homer in a 3:16 span, which included two power-play scores by Homer, one from Gilliland and the other from Ross.
Mariners 12, Kardinals 2
Homer 6 4 2 —12
Kenai 0 1 1 —2
First period — 1. Homer, Pitzman (Hatton), :22; 2. Homer, Gilliland (unassisted), 7:23; 3. Homer, Nevak (Pitzman), 9:21; 4. Homer, Gilliland (Pitzman, Nevak), PP, 10:30; 5. Homer, Ross (Nevak), PP, 11:32; 6. Homer, Arno (Reutov), 12:37. Penalties — Kenai 2 for 4:00.
Second period — 7. Kenai, Begich (Knudsen), 2:40; 8. Homer, Gilliland (Ross, Hatton), 7:40; 9. Homer, Arno (Pitzman), 9:29; 10. Homer, Ross (Nevak), PP, 11:58; 11. Homer, Ross (Pitzman), 13:20. Penalties — Kenai 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 12. Homer, Pitzman (Nevak), 3:08; 13. Kenai, Knudsen (unassisted), 7:20; 14. Homer, Gilliland (unassisted), :12. Penalties — Kenai 3 for 6:00; Homer 2 for 4:00.
Goalies — Homer, Warren (26 shots, 24 saves); Kenai, Cross (15 shots, 9 saves), Koppes (23 shots, 17 saves).