In their second clash of the year against Kenai Central, the Soldotna Stars rolled to a 9-1 North Star Conference hockey victory Tuesday night at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
For SoHi, the story of the game was overcoming a slow start to blow it open with three second-period goals. Kenai, on the other hand, was left wondering what could’ve been if not for a slew of penalties.
“It sure seemed like we didn’t have enough guys on the ice,” said Kenai coach Michael Tilly. “We just weren’t playing five-on-five hockey a lot of the time.”
The Kards were charged with 10 penalties for 36 minutes, while SoHi managed to stay out of the box with just six minutes of penalty kill time. In the final two periods alone, Kenai served 32 minutes in the sin bin.
“I think they were just letting their emotions get the best of them,” Tilly explained. “It ultimately comes down to experience and maturity level, and sometimes you’ve got to leave your ego on the bench.”
SoHi jumped to 6-1 overall with the win (1-0 conference), while Kenai fell to 2-5 overall (0-1 NSC).
After losing a heartbreaking 2-1 game in overtime last weekend to West Valley — a team that crushed SoHi 7-1 at the state tournament last year — SoHi enjoyed an easy night Tuesday. Galen Brantley III and Wyatt Medcoff scored two goals apiece and Billy Yoder stopped 19 of 20 shots to earn the win in goal.
After a sluggish opening period that resulted in one goal, Urban said the Stars began finding their groove in the second.
“We started moving our feet a little more,” Urban said. “We were playing a little selfish hockey in the first but they started using their teammates and had better discipline.”
The Stars scored three times in the second period to build up a 4-0 lead. After a back-door strike from Medcoff put SoHi on the board in the opening period, Brantley III added two more in the second, starting with a backhander on a play from the goal line and continuing with a swift assist from Matthew Daugherty behind the net that left Brantley III with a clean look on net. Medcoff scored again late in the second.
“Coach said to start moving the puck more,” Brantley III said. “I just happened to be that guy that scored, but we’ve got some grinders out there.”
Jakeb O’Brien got Kenai on the board for the first time just 34 seconds into the third frame. O’Brien’s goal came with 23 seconds left on a power play that rolled over from the second period.
However, any momentum that was seized by Kenai was fleeting. Just three minutes later, Braxton Urban slapped a shot from between the circles from 20 feet out to score, putting SoHi up 5-1. The Stars scored four more times in the period to ice it up, getting goals from Jace Urban, Corey Hanson, Braxton Urban again and Levi Hensley. All four were power play goals.
Overall, SoHi outshot Kenai 62 to 20. Kenai goalie Ryan Williams, last weekend’s goaltender of the tournament in Homer, was pelted with 47 shots in the final two periods of play.
Stars 9, Kardinals 1
Kenai 0 0 1 —1
Soldotna 1 3 5 —9
1st period — 1. Soldotna, Medcoff (Miller), 6:44. Penalties — Kenai 2 for 4:00.
2nd period — 2. Soldotna, Brantley (Hanson), 4:46; 3. Soldotna, Brantley (Daugherty, Applehans), 11:26; 4. Soldotna, Medcoff (Miller, Applehans), 12:48. Penalties — Kenai 4 for 16:00; Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
3rd period — 5. Kenai, O’Brien (Beiser), PP, :34; 6. Soldotna, B. Urban (Brantley), 3:49; 7. Soldotna, J. Urban (Hensley), PP, 9:37; 8. Soldotna, Hanson (Daugherty), PP, 9:54; 9. Soldotna, Brown (Hensley, J. Urban), PP, 13:05; 10. Soldotna, Hensley (Medcoff), PP, 14:19. Penalties — Kenai 4 for 16:00; Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Shots — Kenai 8-3-9—20; Soldotna 15-24-23—62.
Goalies — Kenai, Williams (62 shots, 53 saves); Soldotna, Yoder (20 shots, 19 saves).