The Soldotna hockey team opened Railbelt Conference play with a 9-0 victory over Kodiak on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
The Stars move to 4-4-1 overall, while the Bears are 0-3 in the Railbelt and 0-6 overall. The same two teams play at 4:15 p.m. today at the sports complex.
Soldotna warmed up as the game went on, scoring once in the first period, three times in the second period and five times in the third period.
The Stars hadn’t played since Nov. 19. Soldotna coach Anthony Zurfluh said the slower start was the combination of a little bit of rust, and the team implementing things worked on in practice.
“Keeping the puck, keeping possession and cycling down low — we were really pressing that and those were things we worked on at the end of this week,” Zurfluh said. “I was happy to see that working and us keeping the puck.
“We were getting chances, we just weren’t able to capitalize on them.”
Doing most of the capitalizing was the top line of Jace Applehans, Boone Theiler and Silas Larsen. Applehans had three goals and an assist, Theiler had four assists and Larsen had two goals.
Also scoring for the Stars were Daniel Heath, Dawson Lockwood, Marshall DeRaeve and Libby Miller.
Tanner Clyde made 23 saves for the shutout. Zurfluh said Kodiak’s shots were mostly perimeter shots until the third period, when the Stars gave up some rushes and Clyde had to earn the shutout.
“Everybody was getting a little hungry, and you start to lose your responsibilities,” Zurfluh said.
The Soldotna coach also said Mykah Booth had a solid game at defense. Booth has played some forward this season, but Zurfluh wants to move him to defense to give the Stars six solid defensemen.
Zurfluh also said Kodiak, in its second year as a program, continues to improve.
“It’s huge that they’re in our conference and they’re gaining each year,” Zurfluh said. “They’re going to struggle for a bit, but once the youth hockey programs start plugging away, their high school will follow.”
Kodiak coach John Glover said the goal is to take it one game at a time and try to get better every game. The coach said the team made strides Friday by staying positive and taking the game one shift as a time.
In the big picture, Glover said rink improvements are underway in Kodiak. He said the rink will be fully enclosed and four locker rooms will be constructed. Currently, the rink has no locker rooms.
Glover said the goal is to complete the project by October, but the project could take longer due to delays in getting construction materials.
The Bears have three seniors and six juniors, with the rest being freshmen and sophomores. Glover said Kodiak has had a youth program for a couple of years, but no comp program.
“You can’t adapt to an environment you don’t inhabit, so coming here and playing at this level is just going to make us grow,” he said.
Sophomore goalie Aiden Johnson made 40 saves. Glover said his goalie was good in the first two periods, but a little sloppy in the third. Glover also said captain Noah Coulter played a smart game on defense.
Juneau 4, Kenai 2
The visiting Kardinals dropped to 2-1-0 in the Railbelt and 4-6-0 overall with the Friday loss.
The game got off to a quick start, with Juneau taking the lead on a goal by Dylan Sowa in the first few minutes.
By the time 11:02 was left in the first, Kenai had a 2-1 lead. Logan Mese scored unassisted, and Avery Martin scored on an assist from Mese.
After that, Juneau goalie Mason Sooter kept the Kards off the board, making 31 saves. Evyn Witt stopped 18 for Kenai.
The Crimson Bears tied it in the second period on a goal by Brenden West.
With 11:09 left in the third, Juneau took the lead on a goal by Anna Dale. Caden Johns sealed the victory with a goal with 40 seconds left.
The same two teams play at 2 p.m. today.
Stars 9, Bears 0
Kodiak 0 0 0 —0
Soldotna 1 3 5 —9
First period — 1. Soldotna, Applehans (Theiler, Lockwood), 7:54. Penalties — Kodiak 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 2. Soldotna, Larsen (Theiler), 1:04; 3. Soldotna, Heath (Arthur), 2:29; 4. Soldotna, Larsen (Theiler, Applehans), 7:44. Penalties — Kodiak 2 for 4:00; Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 5. Soldotna, Applehans (Theiler, Zurfluh), 0:35; 6. Soldotna, Lockwood (Miller, Bucho), 5:28; 7. Soldotna, Applehans (Stinnett), 7:19; 8. Soldotna, Deraeve (un.), 9:53; 9. Soldotna, L. Miller (un.), 0:38. Penalties — Kodiak 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal — Kodiak 4-9-10—23; Soldotna 16-14-10—40.
Goalies — Kodiak, Johnson (45 shots, 40 saves); Soldotna, Clyde (23 shots, 23 saves).
Crimson Bears 4, Kardinals 2
Kenai 2 0 0 —2
Juneau 1 1 2 —4
First period — 1. Juneau, Sowa (un.), 1:23; 2. Kenai, Mese (un.), 2:40; 3. Kenai, Martin (Mese), 3:58. Penalties — Kenai 2 for 4:00; Juneau 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 4. Juneau, West (Johns, Bovitz), 2:36. Penalties — Kenai 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 5. Juneau, Dale (Kohlhase, Campbell), 3:51; 6. Juneau, Johns (un.), 14:20. Penalties — none.
Shots on goal — Kenai 15-12-6—33; Juneau 4-12-6—22.