When the Homer hockey team got to work, Kenai Central had a hard time stopping the Mariners.
Homer notched a 7-0 Railbelt Conference victory over the Kards on Saturday at the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility.
The Mariners move to 6-1-1 in the league and 14-2-1 overall, while the Kardinals fall to 3-3-1 in the league and 6-8-1 overall.
The two teams had skated to a 4-4 tie on Nov. 23 in Homer. Saturday’s game also started close with a scoreless first period.
“Our first period was horrible,” Homer coach Steve Nevak said. “We didn’t play well at all. It was just awful.”
Nevak said the message to the team between periods was to dump the puck behind the Kenai net and work from the goal line out.
“When we work from the goal line out, that’s when good things happen,” Nevak said.
The Mariners scored three times in the second period, one goal by Alden Ross and two by Tyler Gilliland. Gilliland finished with a hat trick and two assists.
Nevak said it’s no mistake that Gilliland piled up points in the game, because working from the goal line out takes hard work, and Gilliland is a very hard worker.
Kenai Central head coach Scott Shelden said that once Homer got some momentum, the Mariners were hard to stop. Homer lost 4-3 to Soldotna on Wednesday, but was able to shake that off.
“They’re a good team,” Shelden said. “They were all over us. They have a lot of talent and a really good coach. They played well.”
Nevak said his squad is finally getting into a groove after the holiday break. He added the Mariners felt some pressure Wednesday in front of the home crowd on senior night against the Stars, but played pressure-free Saturday.
In the third period, Gilliland completed his hat trick, Ross potted his second goal and Phinny Weston and Kazden Stineff also found the back of the net.
Kenai goalie Thomas Baker stopped 50 of 57, while Homer goalie Keegan Strong recorded the shutout on 24 saves.
“When we keep the puck to the outside, he’s going to stop it every time,” Nevak said of Strong.
Shelden said a powerful performance from Homer did not change the way he feels about his team.
“We’re pumped,” he said. “We’re going to Juneau next week. We’ve got a good vibe in the locker room and on the bench. I’m excited about this team.”
Mariners 7, Kardinals 0
Homer 0 3 4 —7
Kenai 0 0 0 —0
First period — none. Penalties — Kenai 3 for 6:00.
Second period — 1. Homer, Ross (Gilliland), 7:41; 2. Homer, Gilliland (Weston, Pitzman), 10:16; 3. Homer, Gilliland, 10:34. Penalties — Homer 2 for 4:00; Kenai 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 4. Homer, Gilliland (I. Nevak), 8:36; 5. Homer, Ross (un.), 9:08; 6. Homer, Weston (un.), 9:43; . Homer, Stineff (Gilliland, T. Nevak), 13:18. Penalties — Homer 3 for 6:00; Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Homer 17-25-15—57; Kenai 9-7-8—24.