Prep hockey roundup: Kenai, Homer win; Soldotna loses

In a game that featured only a flurry of scoring in the third period, the Kenai Central hockey team defeated Houston 3-1 on Thursday in Railbelt Conference action at the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility.

The Kardinals moved to 2-2-1 in the league and 5-6-1 overall.

The first two periods in the game went scoreless, with Houston goalie Josh Smoldon and Kenai goalie Jackson Cross maintaining clean sheets.

With 6:00 left in the final period, Miles Marston scored unassisted to put the Kardinals up, but Houston’s Isaiah Squires had the immediate answer just 10 seconds later.

With 5:34 to play, Marston struck again, this time assisted by Nate Beiser. With 4:40 left, Beiser would bump the lead to 3-1 with a strike assisted by Zach Burnett.

Smoldon made 50 saves for the Hawks, while Cross stopped 23 for the Kardinals.

Kenai will play Palmer at 9:30 p.m. at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex today. This is a change in time and location due to the cold temperatures.

At this point, Kenai’s game vs. Colony is still on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Multi-Purpose Facility.

Colony 2, Soldotna 1

The Stars dropped a nonconference game to the Knights on Thursday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

The Stars took the lead in the first period, when Journey Miller scored on assists from Trent Powell and Wyatt Medcoff. But Dane Jellich would tie it before the end of the first for Colony.

In the second, the Stars had a goal called off when the net came loose. In the third, Jellich scored the game-winner with 9:03 to play.

Roman Sheperd had 23 saves for Colony, while Corbin Wirz stopped 25 for Soldotna.

Soldotna hosts Houston at 7:15 p.m. today, then hosts Palmer at 5:15 p.m. Saturday.

Homer 5, Palmer 2

Hungry to avenge their dramatic loss in overtime to Palmer in last year’s state championship game, members of the Homer hockey team were skating with something to prove Thursday night, and they proved it.

The Mariners took the game with a 5-2 victory over the Moose in Railbelt Conference action at the Kevin Bell Arena in Homer. In a penalty-heavy game, both teams started out slow with no points getting on the scoreboard until the second period when Homer freshman Jett Allen netted a goal with an assist from senior Ethan Pitzman less than a minute into the second period.

Not to let Homer run away with the win, Palmer answered with a goal from Carter Greco, assisted by Alexander Nelius and Jeremy Horacek with 11:55 left in the second. The teams continued to go goal for goal, with Homer junior Casey Otis scoring with an assist from Pitzman and junior Phinny Weston, and Palmer’s Easton Armstrong scoring unassisted also in the second period.

The Mariners then pulled away with an unassisted goal from senior Isaiah Nevak and a goal from Weston assisted by Nevak and senior Tyler Gilliland, just 12 seconds apart.

Homer clinched the win with one last goal by Nevak, assisted by Gilliland, with 56 seconds left in the game.

In all, Palmer goaltender Tiernan O’Rourke saved 36 out of Homer’s 41 shots on goal, while Homer goalie Keegan Strong made 34 saves against Palmer’s 36 shots on goal. Palmer racked up seven penalties for a total of 14 minutes, while the Mariners had nine totaling 18 minutes.

The win was sweet for Homer’s seniors who may have had last year’s championship loss still on their minds. Head coach Steve Nevak said it was an emotional game for some.

“This had been on their minds all summer and the first half of the season,” Nevak said. “And so we just restart our record for this half of the year. … So we’re 1-0. We can’t worry about what happened in 2019.”

Nevak said that while the win started the team off on the right foot coming back from their winter break, their skating wasn’t as polished as than he would have liked.

“After the long break, it’s going to be sloppy, it’s going to be messy,” he said. “That’s exactly what it was.”

He wants the team to use their first weekend back on the ice to get back into their systems.

“Getting back into our four check, that’s important,” he said. “It was just missing today, and hopefully we can pick it up.”

Palmer head coach Dean Wilson said he knows his team will get a good game when they come to Homer. He said the Moose played well, but got into penalty trouble.

“We couldn’t capitalize on the places that we needed to,” Wilson said. “Both teams have a lot of speed. There’s a lot of speed on these teams so, you know, very dangerous on both ends of the ice no matter where you’re at.”

“I thought it was a very entertaining game,” he continued. “And we’ve got some things to work on for the next game.”

Homer’s win moves the Mariners to 4-0-1 in the Railbelt Conference, while the Moose dropped to 2-1-1. Homer and Palmer will next face each other on Jan. 25 in the Mat-Su Valley.

“I think there’s probably going to be some fireworks in Palmer at the end of the year so, looking forward to that,” Nevak said.

Homer next hosts Colony High School at 7 p.m. Friday and Houston High School at noon Saturday.

Megan Pacer of the Homer News contributed to this report.

Thursday

Kardinals 3, Hawks 1

Houston 0 0 1 — 1

Kenai 0 0 3 — 3

First period — none. Penalties — Houston 1 for 2:00.

Second period — none. Penalties — Houston 4 for 8:00; Kenai 4 for 8:00.

Third period — 1. Kenai, Marston (un.), 9:00; 2. Houston, Squires (un.), 9:10; 3. Kenai, Marston (Beiser), 9:26; 4. Kenai, Beiser (Burnett), 10:20. Penalties — 4 for 8:00.

Shots on goal — Houston 11-3-10—24; Kenai 13-18-21—53.

Goalies — Houston, Smoldon (53 shots, 50 saves); Kenai, Cross (24 shots, 23 saves).

Knights 2, Stars 1

Colony 1 0 1 —2

Soldotna 1 0 0 —1

First period — 1. Soldotna, J. Miller (Powell, Medcoff), 9:22; 2. Colony, Jellich (Ross), 13:35. Penalties — Soldotna 1 for 2:00.

Second period — none. Penalties — Colony 2 for 4:00; Soldotna 2 for 4:00.

Third period — 3. Colony, Jellich (Ross, Ketchum), pp, 5:57. Penalties — Soldotna 1 for 2:00; Colony 1 for 2:00.

Shots on goal — Colony 6-9-12—27; Soldotna 8-4-12—24.

Goalies — Colony, Sheperd (24 shots, 23 saves); Soldotna, Wirz (27 shots, 25 saves).

Homer’s Ethan Pitzman crashes into the net and into Palmer goaltender Tiernan O’Rourke after an unsuccessful shot on goal Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020 during a hockey game at Kevin Bell Arena in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Homer’s Ethan Pitzman crashes into the net and into Palmer goaltender Tiernan O’Rourke after an unsuccessful shot on goal Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020 during a hockey game at Kevin Bell Arena in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

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