Soldotna’s Galen Brantley III attacks against North Pole on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Galen Brantley III attacks against North Pole on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

North Pole freshman goalie makes 76 saves in debut to tie Soldotna

They don’t exactly ease freshman goaltenders into action at North Pole.

Making his first varsity start, North Pole freshman Nic Clark made 76 saves to preserve a 4-all tie with Soldotna in the second round of the Peninsula Ice Challenge on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

The Stars would still eventually finish ahead of the Patriots at the three-day tournament. Chugiak defeated North Pole 9-0 on Saturday to win the event with a 3-0 record, while Soldotna topped Kenai Central 6-1 on Saturday. The Stars finished second at 1-1-1, the Patriots were third at 1-1-1 and Kenai was fourth at 0-3.

North Pole coach Jason Storey was shocked by the Friday performance of Clark, whose last level of hockey was Tier IV.

“He worked hard in practice and looked good, but we didn’t expect that,” Storey said.

Thursday, Kenai outshot North Pole 41-37 but lost 8-1 due to the solid work of goalie Moses Halbert. Friday, the Patriots were outshot 80-13 but still managed a tie.

“For two games in a row, our goalies just stood on their head,” Storey said. “Especially in the first period, we had no business being in the game.

“We gave up 40 shots last night and that’s a lot. Eighty is out of the realm of normal.”

Clark chalked up his success to working hard in practice.

“I was just trying to play my game, but tracking the puck got hard after awhile,” he said.

Soldotna coach Indy Walton and Storey go way back, having played together as teenagers.

Walton also dated himself by answering “Yes” when asked if he had ever seen a game like Friday’s.

In 1987, Walton was a sophomore at Lathrop when his squad topped Service 4-3 in three overtimes for the state title. Walton said the Cougars won the shot count that night 70-15.

“That goalie stood on his head,” Walton said of Clark. “He’s going to take them a long way.”

After saving all 28 shots in the first period, Clark gave up goals to Galen Brantley III, Dylan Walton and Wyatt Medcoff in a stretch of 1 minute, 41 seconds, in the second period.

“I just needed to find my cool,” Clark said.

Coach Walton gave credit to the Patriots for not giving up despite being down 3-0 and badly losing the shot count.

The SoHi coach also was disappointed in his team for committing five penalties and allowing North Pole back in the game.

Before the end of the second period, Caleb Peters and Jessie Keith scored power-play goals to cut the gap to 3-2.

With 9:33 left in the game, Cody Benjamin tied it with another power-play goal. Then Daniel Crutcher scored short-handed with 3:13 left to give North Pole a 4-3 lead.

SoHi was able to salvage the tie when Walton scored with 44 seconds left by cleaning up the rebound after Brantley III drove the net.

Walton said Brantley III alone hit the bar three times, while the Stars rung metal five or six times total. The coach also said the puck walked across — but not over — the goal line three times.

Walton also is pretty sure his team scored at one point, but the puck immediately bounced out. In fact, it was so hard to believe Clark had been beaten that when SoHi scored to tie it with less than a minute left, Walton said he had to tell half his team to celebrate.

“It was a really frustrating game for a coach, to know we were the better team and having to settle for a tie,” Walton said.

Josh Tree had five saves on seven shots for Soldotna, while Corbin Wirz stopped four on six shots.

“It’s almost tougher to play goalie when you’re not getting shots,” Walton said. “When you’re seeing shots, you get in the zone, the blood is pumping and the adrenaline is going.”

Soldotna 6, Kenai 1

The Stars received goals from six different players in topping the Kardinals in the tournament finale.

Brantley III started the scoring in the first period, while Yeager, Walton and Medcoff added second-period tallies. Journey Miller and Trent Powell pushed the lead to 6-0 in the third period before Jacob Begich ruined the shutout for Soldotna goalie Corbin Wirz.

Wirz made 12 saves for the Stars, while Cross stopped 30 for the Kards.

Chugiak 6, Kenai 2

The Mustangs scored four times in the opening period to secure a Friday victory over Kenai at the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility.

Overall, Chugiak outshot the Kardinals 63-6, including a 29-shot first period. Luke Momblow notched two goals for Chugiak in the win.

Kenai head coach Jacob Newton praised the efforts of Kards goaltender Jackson Cross, who made 57 saves on the night.

After a quick goal by Chugiak in the first two minutes, Kenai tied it up with just under five minutes left in the first period on a goal by Jacob Begich.

The final 2:11 of the first frame saw a flurry of goals, as the Mustangs netted three goals. Kenai cut the lead to 3-2 with 46 seconds left on a goal by Wyatt Harvey with an assist from Miles Marston, but Chugiak answered with another strike from Momblow with 16 ticks left to take a 4-2 edge at the first intermission.

Cross stood tall to make 32 saves on 34 shots in the final two periods of action. Chugiak used a different goaltender in each period, starting with Alayna Breivogel and going to Olin Kelliher and Kylie Watts.

Peninsula Ice Challenge

Friday

Stars 4, Patriots 4

North Pole 0 2 2 — 4

Soldotna 0 3 1 — 4

First period — none. Penalties — North Pole 1 for 2:00; Soldotna 1 for 2:00.

Second period — 1. Soldotna, Brantley III (Miller, Powell), pp, 4:17; 2. Soldotna, Walton (Aley, Yeager), 5:16; 3. Soldotna, Medcoff (Miller, Brantley III), 5:58; 4. North Pole, Peters (Keith), pp, 7:40; 5. North Pole, Keith (Benjamin), pp, 14:54. Penalties — North Pole 2 for 4:00; Soldotna 3 for 6:00.

Third period — 6. North Pole, Benjamin (Crutcher), pp, 9:33; 7. North Pole, Crutcher (Wilbur, Laszloffy), sh, 11:47; 8. Soldotna, Walton (Miller, Brantley III), 14:16. Penalties — North Pole 1 for 2:00; Soldotna 1 for 2:00.

Shots on goal — North Pole 3-4-6—13; Soldotna 28-31-21—80.

Goalies — North Pole, Nic Clark (80 shots, 76 saves); Soldotna, Tree (7 shots, 5 saves), Wirz (6 shots, 4 saves).

Power plays — North Pole 3 for 5; Soldotna 1 for 4.

Friday

Mustangs 6, Kardinals 2

Chugiak 4 1 1 —6

Kenai 2 0 0 —0

First period — 1. Chugiak, Young (Tapley), 1:50; 2. Kenai, Begich (unassisted), 10:13; 3. Chugiak, Huffer (Beckett), 12:49; 4. Chugiak, Momblow (unassisted), 13:21; 5. Kenai, Harvey (Marston), 14:14; 6. Chugiak, Momblow (Lindberg, Epple), 14:44. Penalties — Chugiak 1 for 2:00; Kenai 2 for 4:00.

Second period — 7. Chugiak, Kosinski (McCormick, Young), 1:31. Penalties — Chugiak 1 for 2:00; Kenai 2 for 7:00.

Third period — 8. Chugiak, McCormick (Kennedy, Kosinski), 12:43. Penalties — Chugiak 3 for 6:00; Kenai 2 for 4:00.

Shots — Chugiak 29-19-15—63; Kenai 2-2-2—6.

Goalies — Chugiak, Breivogel (2 shots, 0 saves), Kelliher (2 shots, 2 saves), Watts (2 shots, 2 saves); Kenai, Cross (63 shots, 57 saves).

Saturday

Stars 6, Kardinals 1

Soldotna 1 3 2 — 6

Kenai 0 0 1 — 1

First period — 1. Soldotna, Brantley III (A. Montague), 9:44. Penalties — Kenai 4 for 8:00; Soldotna 2 for 4:00.

Second period — 2. Soldotna, Yeager (Aley), 5:38; 3. Soldotna, Walton (un.), 9:55; 4. Soldotna, Medcoff (un.), 10:00. Penalties — Kenai 5 for 10:00; Soldotna 4 for 8:00.

Third period — 5. Soldotna, Miller (un.), sh, 9:22; 6. Soldotna, Powell (Walton), 13:04; 7. Kenai, Begich (Knudsen), 14:45. Penalties — Kenai 1 for 2:00; Soldotna 3 for 6:00.

Shots on goal — Kenai 5-3-6—14; Soldona 10-17-9—36.

Goalies — Kenai, Cross (36 shots, 30 saves); Soldotna, Wirz (13 shots, 12 saves).

North Pole goalie Nic Clark makes a save in front of Soldotna’s Wyatt Medcoff on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

North Pole goalie Nic Clark makes a save in front of Soldotna’s Wyatt Medcoff on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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