The host Homer hockey team tied with Kenai Central 4-4 on Saturday in Railbelt Conference play.
“It was a good effort,” Kenai Central head coach Scott Shelden told the Homer News. “We had a two-goal lead, so, we gave up two short-handed goals on that.”
The teams went into the third period knotted at 3. The Kardinals got the upper hand when Zach Burnett scored on an assist from Hunter Erwin with 3 minutes, 23 seconds, left in the game.
Homer came right back with 2:48 to play. Isaiah Nevak lit the lamp with help from Ethan Pitzman.
From there, Kenai Central goalie Tommy Baker and Homer goalie Keegan Strong kept clean sheets. Baker had 28 saves in the game, while Strong made 20.
“We’re not happy about not winning, but hey, I mean, we’re coming from down here so we’ll take the tie,” Shelden told the Homer News. “It was good.”
The Kardinals got off to a good start, with Daniel Shelden, assisted by Jacob Begich, scoring the lone goal of the first period.
Then things really got moving in the second period.
Tyler Gilliland, assisted by Ethan Pitzman, tied the game, but Nate Beiser and Blake Bucho, both unassisted, came back to give the Kardinals a 3-1 lead with 5:21 left in the second.
Then Gilliland, assisted by Pitzman and Hunter Green, and Austin Shafford, assisted by Kazden Stineff, tied things up to set up the dramatic third period.
Before the season, Steve Nevak said the Kenai program would be on the upswing due to the coaching of Shelden.
“Scott is a great coach,” Nevak told the Homer News. “He can do a whole lot with whatever he’s provided.”
The coach said illness forced Homer to rely on his young players, and those players did fine.
“Our short bench just caught us this week,” Nevak told the Homer News. “You know, we’re missing our whole second power play unit to sickness.”
Kenai 4, Homer 4
Kenai 1 2 1 0 —4
Homer 0 3 1 0 —4
First period — 1. Kenai, Shelden (Begich), 12:27. Penalties — Kenai 1 for 2:00; Homer 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 2. Homer, Gilliland (E. Pitzman), 5:40; 3. Kenai, Beiser (un.), 5:54; 4. 4. Kenai, Bucho (un.), 9:39; 5. Homer, Gilliland (E. Pitzman, Green), 13:54; 6. Homer, Shafford (Stineff), 14:45. Penalties — Homer 5 for 18:00; Kenai 3 for 9:00.
Third period — 7. Kenai, Burnett (Erwin), 11:37; 8. Homer, I. Nevak (E. Pitzman), 12:12. Penalties — Kenai 1 for 2:00; Homer 1 for 2:00.
Overtime — none. Penalties — none.
Shots on goal — Kenai 12-3-8-1—24; Homer 5-13-10-4—32.
Goalies — Kenai, Baker (32 shots, 28 saves); Homer, Strong (24 shots, 20 saves).