Kenai Central’s Jacob Begich skates in for a first-period goal on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, against Juneau-Douglas at the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Jacob Begich skates in for a first-period goal on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, against Juneau-Douglas at the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai hockey edges Juneau in overtime

The Kenai Central hockey team defeated Juneau-Douglas 5-4 in overtime Saturday in Railbelt Conference play at the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility.

By winning their third overtime contest in three tries this season, the Kardinals moved to 6-5 overall and 2-0 in the league.

The Crimson Bears ran into penalty trouble late in the third period and in overtime. Juneau had just killed off a five-on-three, but was still facing a five-on-four, when a Juneau skater raced clear of the pack toward the Kenai net.

Jacob Begich, who already had two goals in the game, used his speed to pick the breakaway skater clean, then stormed up the ice and toward the Juneau net. Ayden Spann got the puck out front to Daniel Shelden, who buried the game-winner with six minutes left in the eight-minute extra period.

“Begich is just a rock for us,” Kenai head coach Scott Shelden said. “He’s so good defensively as well. You saw him on the back-check.

“He’s a highly skilled player, one of our captains and a big leader off the ice.”

The close game was just another example of how tightly contested the conference is this season.

“Our conference is loaded,” Shelden said. “We were just talking about that in the locker room. It’s anybody’s game right now.”

Juneau had played Thursday and Friday in Homer, earning a tie Thursday and taking a one-goal loss Friday.

The Crimson Bears played Friday night, then had to drop the puck at noon in Kenai. Juneau head coach Luke Adams said that was not a factor.

“I don’t think that really had a lot to do with it,” he said. “We’re just learning the team team we are. We’re taking a few bumps and bruises on the way, but at the same time, we’re competing. We’re happy with that.”

Adams said a definite factor in the game was the speed of Begich. Begich used that speed to put the Kards up 1-0 with 13:47 left in the first.

“He’s a skilled player and his speed is something we have to adjust to,” Adams said. “We haven’t seen that type of speed this year.”

But in what would become a trend in the game, the Crimson Bears erased that deficit on a power-play goal. This one came from Andre Peirovi.

“We didn’t play our best game,” Shelden said. “I don’t know what changed. We’ve been playing better than that.

“But, we never hung our heads and got negative. We stayed with it, and it paid off in the end.”

Another great individual effort from Reagan Graves put the Kards up 2-1 headed to the second, but Ian Moller got things square for the Crimson Bears with a power-play goal with 12:52 left in the second.

“We definitely had some fight — scoring those goals when it counts,” Adams said. “It’s a big, big part of building the team.

“We’ve got a lot of young players involved here, so seeing those go in when we needed was great.”

Juneau was able to control the action until Joey Meier put the Crimson Bears ahead 3-2 with 6:44 left in the second.

Begich was able to snatch the momentum from Juneau, though, turning on the afterburners for a goal a little more than a minute later.

Caden Warren put Kenai ahead with 12:02 left in the game on a long shot from just inside the blue line, but Juneau got a power play late in the game and Caden Johns quickly capitalized to send the game into overtime.

Mason Sooter made 30 saves for Juneau, while Carson Koppes stopped 32 for the Kards.

“Carson was amazing in that game,” Shelden said. “He kept us in it. Otherwise, we’re out.”

Adams gave credit to forwards Sam Bovitz and Anne Dale for energy and effort that kept the team going all day.

Saturday

Kardinals 5, Crimson Bears 4, OT

Juneau 1 2 1 0 —4

Kenai 2 1 1 1 —5

First period — 1. Kenai, Begich (un.), 1:13; 2. Juneau, Peirovi (Meier, Murdoch), pp, 7:57; 3. Kenai, Graves (un.), 11:41. Penalties — Juneau 3 for 6:00; Kenai 4 for 8:00.

Second period — 4. Juneau, Moller (Kovach, Meier), pp, 2:08; 5. Juneau, Meier (un.), 8:16; 6. Kenai, Begich (Warren), 9:36. Penalties — Juneau 1 for 2:00; Kenai 1 for 2:00.

Third period — 7. Kenai, Warren (Shelden), 2:58; 8. Juneau, Johns (un.), pp, 11:14. Penalties — Juneau 2 for 4:00; Kenai 1 for 2:00.

Overtime — 9. Kenai, Shelden (Spann, Begich), pp, 2:00. Penalties — Juneau 1 for 2:00.

Shots on goal — Juneau 6-19-11-0—36; Kenai 8-13-10-4—35.

Goalies — Juneau, Sooter (35 shots, 30 saves); Kenai, Koppes (36 shots, 32 saves).

Kenai Central’s Reagan Graves gets ready to score a goal while Camden Kovach defends Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, at the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Reagan Graves gets ready to score a goal while Camden Kovach defends Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, at the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central goalie Carson Koppes keeps Dylan Sowa of Juneau-Douglas from scoring Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, at the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central goalie Carson Koppes keeps Dylan Sowa of Juneau-Douglas from scoring Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, at the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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