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Kenai Peninsula girls take 4th at state

Kenai Peninsula took fourth place in the Girls High School State Tournament by defeating Service-East 4-0 at Ben Boeke Ice Arena in Anchorage.

This was the first time Kenai Peninsula played in the tournament. The team lost its first two games, but when Chugiak-Eagle River forfeited due to not having enough players, Kenai Peninsula jumped into the fourth-place game and defeated a team that went 2-6 in the regular season.

“It was a big boost for the girls,” Kenai Peninsula head coach Eric Fabian said. “They were pretty down after the game last night.

“They got a second chance and came out playing hard today. It made all the difference.”

Fabian and assistant Steve Hallam noticed in the first two games lack of familiarity was hurting the team. Kenai Peninsula didn’t play a regular season and had no practices with everybody on the ice before the tournament.

The coaches tried to get players on the ice who had prior experience with each other.

Also, instead of spreading out the top players, Libby Miller, Julie Ann Nye and Brooklyn Larsen were all put on the top line.

It worked as that line had three of the four goals. Kenai Peninsula also had 27 shots, after eight on Friday and 11 on Thursday.

Miller scored in the first period on assists from Cara Graves and Grace Hallam.

Kenai Peninsula then scored three times in the first four minutes of the second period.

Miller scored on an assist from Nye. Lexi Taylor scored unassisted. Nye scored with help from Rylie Thompson.

“The role players came out and played a really solid game,” Fabian said. “They were really moving their feet and they were hard on the puck, winning puck battles.”

The 4-0 lead would be more than enough for Kenai Peninsula goalies Seanna Swanson and Kacey Cunningham, who combined to save all 24 of the shots they faced. River Scott stopped 23 for Service-East.

“They had 99 saves on 104 shots,” Fabian said of Swanson and Cunningham in the tournament. “That’s a .952 save percentage. You’re usually hoping for the low .900s.”

Kenai Peninsula showed it can play with the Anchorage teams. Fabian said there are plenty of girls coming up in the area. Fabian said he believes more of those girls would stick with hockey if they didn’t have to play on high school coed teams and worry about open-ice checks, and checks to the boards.

The big question now is if the team wants to raise all the funds needed to play in the Anchorage league, which is run by the Anchorage Hockey Association.

“We’ll have to decide in the next couple months,” Fabian said. “It’s going to take all summer to raise money to fund an entire season of travel money and ice fees.”

Saturday

Kenai Peninsula 4, Service-East 0

KP 1 3 0 —4

S-E 0 0 0 —0

First period — 1. Kenai Peninsula, Miller (Graves, Hallam), 13:22. Penalties — Kenai Peninsula 1 for 2:00; Service-East 1 for 2:00.

Second period — 2. Kenai Peninsula, Miller (Nye), 0:57; 3. Kenai Peninsula, Taylor (un.), 1:41; 4. Kenai Peninsula, Nye (Thompson), 3:51. Penalties — Service-East 2 for 4:00.

Third period — none. Penalties — Kenai Peninsula 5 for 10:00; Service-East 3 for 6:00.

Shots on goal — Kenai Peninsula 6-16-5—27; Service-East 7-6-11—24.

Goalies — Kenai Peninsula, Swanson, Cunningham (24 shots, 24 saves); Service-East, Scott (27 shots, 23 saves).

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