Homer’s Haylee Owen tries to maintain control of the puck under pressure from Tri-Valley School’s Will Tomeo during a Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 hockey game at Kevin Bell Arena in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Homer’s Haylee Owen tries to maintain control of the puck under pressure from Tri-Valley School’s Will Tomeo during a Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 hockey game at Kevin Bell Arena in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Homer hockey defeats Tri-Valley

The MarinerS hockey team skated to an easy victory over the Tri-Valley Vikings in nonconference action Thursday night at the Kevin Bell Arena.

Homer won its last home game of the season 12-2 over the Vikings, who are in the Aurora Conference. The Mariners are 8-1-1 in Railbelt Conference standings, and Thursday’s win took them to 18-2-1 overall this season.

The Mariners came out strong, scoring five goals in the first period alone, to the Vikings’ one. Phinny Weston was the first to find the back of the net with a goal about two and a half minutes into the game, with an assist from Tyler Gilliland. From there, goals were scored by Alden Ross with an assist from Casey Otis and Karl Wickstrom, Ethan Pitzman with an assist from younger brother Owen Pitzman and Sam Banks, Weston again with an assist from Bergen Knutson, and from Gilliland with an assist from Weston and Jett Allen.

Tri-Valley snuck its first-period goal in with less than 10 seconds to go. Corey Stickle made the goal, assisted by Hayden Lusby.

The Mariners controlled the second period with goals from Gilliland, Kazden Stineff and Otis. The Pitzman brothers also reversed course, with Owen scoring a goal assisted by older brother Ethan and, again, Banks. The third period saw goals from Austin Shafford, assisted by Ethan Pitzman and Isaiah Nevak, Nevak assisted by Shafford and Allen, and Gilliland assisted by Charley Tapan.

Stickle again sunk a goal for Tri-Valley in the third period, with an assist from Lusby again, as well as Denali Planty.

Homer goaltender Rhodes Turner stopped five of the seven shots on goal taken by the Vikings, while Tri-Valley goaltender Danny Renshaw was able to block 66 of Homer’s whopping 78 shots on goal.

Thursday’s was the last home game of the season, and therefore the last game on home ice for the team’s seniors: Gilliland, Nevak, Ross, Shafford and Ethan Pitzman.

Head coach Steve Nevak, who has been coaching some of the players since they were children, is stepping back from the position after this season.

“It’s really hard,” Nevak said of the last home game. “You know, four of them had offers to go off and play junior hockey, and they said, ‘We want to play for you, coach.’”

Nevak spoke of how the team has progressed as a group this season. Losing a large handful of seniors to graduation last year has meant training up younger players and seeing that they get ice time.

“You rely on your upperclassmen, but you want to continue to build a program and build (the) kids’ confidence,” he said. “Because you gotta remember, each one of these kids are individuals. They’re humans, and if they succeed on the ice, they’re gonna succeed in life. And so you want to give them opportunities to succeed and opportunities to fail. You’ve got to give them opportunities to fail they can learn from their failures. And every one of these freshmen and these sophomores that are pretty new, you know, we’ve given them that.”

The team has just a few practices left before heading up to Fairbanks for the ASAA Division II Hockey Championships being held Feb. 6-8. Nevak said that’ll be time to focus on what he’s been teaching all these years.

“Work below the goal line, work from the goal line out,” he said. “Play hard.”

“I don’t want this to end without a championship,” Nevak continued. “And neither do the seniors.”

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

More in Sports

Soldotna's Trenton Ohnemus delivers to Kenai Central in the Division II state championship game Saturday, June 4, 2023, at Wasilla High School in Wasilla, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi tops Kenai to repeat as Division II state baseball champs

The Soldotna baseball team retained the Division II state title with a… Continue reading

Kenai, Soldotna baseball to face off for state title

The Kenai Central and Soldotna baseball teams will play for the Division… Continue reading

Kenai Central ends run at state softball tournament

The Kenai Central softball team ended its season with two losses Friday… Continue reading

Jacoby shines on Mare Nostrum Tour

Lydia Jacoby, a 2022 graduate of Seward High School, recently picked up… Continue reading

Soldotna's Trenton Ohnemus fires a pitch against the Palmer Moose during the Division II state quarterfinal game Thursday, June 1, 2023, at Wasilla High School. (Jeremiah Bartz/Frontiersman)
Kenai, SoHi baseball move to state semifinals

The Kenai Central and Soldotna baseball teams won Thursday to advance to… Continue reading

State softball: Kenai goes 0-2 in round robin

The Kenai Central softball team went 0-2 in round-robin play Thursday at… Continue reading

Brown Bears’ Monson commits to Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Kenai River Brown Bears defenseman Ben Monson announced his commitment to Division… Continue reading

Lucas Petersen swims the butterfly during a Top of the World Swimming practice on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022 at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local masters swimmers compete in California, bring home 5 medals, break record

A group of local masters swimmers, members of Top of the World… Continue reading

Mouth to Mouth Wild Run and Ride celebrates 10 years

The 10th Mouth to Mouth Wild Run and Ride was held Saturday… Continue reading

Most Read