The Soldotna Stars got the prep hockey season underway and got a leg up on their rivals to the south with a 4-3 win over Homer on Thursday evening at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, kicking off the first day of the Peninsula Ice Challenge tournament.
After beating Soldotna 2-1 in the season series between the two schools last year, Homer coach John Carlin said his squad is still figuring out the right balance in 2014.
“Good game, I just didn’t think we played as well as we could’ve,” Carlin said. “Hats off to (Soldotna). They had a great year to build off.”
After two periods of play, SoHi held a 3-1 lead over Homer, but two quick goals by the Mariners erased the deficit within minutes.
“We were pretty calm, actually,” said SoHi coach Derek Urban about losing the lead. “I just told the guys to stick with their systems. They were working before, it could work again.”
It didn’t take long for Soldotna to get back on top. After Homer was booked for checking from behind, the Stars went on the power play.
It took the Stars 21 seconds to score, as Jace Urban found the puck on a rebound shot and scored the go-ahead goal with 5:39 left. It was Urban’s second goal of the night.
“We were fishing for the puck a lot, and not taking bodies and stepping it up,” Carlin said.
Cameron Knowlton and Ethan Brown also scored for Soldotna. Freshman Billy Yoder got the start in goal for the Stars.
“Our freshman stayed steady and stuck with their roles,” Urban said. “We played well overall, but there’s still a lot to learn.”
Soldotna will play Eagle River tonight at 5:30 p.m., while Homer plays Kenai at 8 p.m. On Saturday, Kenai and SoHi face off at 7:30 p.m., while Eagle River and Homer drop the puck at 3:30 p.m.
In the late game, Eagle River topped Kenai 6-0. The Wolves dominated the Kardinals with a shutout victory to get their tournament started.
Kenai goalie Nate O’Lena notched 49 saves on 55 shots in the net, while the Kards had seven shots on goal.
Kenai will face Homer tonight at 8 p.m.