A 12-day period of inactivity failed to slow down the Soldotna hockey team as the Stars put away Homer in a 3-0 North Star Conference shutout Thursday night at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
Almost two weeks after playing at the Big Lake Lions Classic tournament, the Stars were faced with a week off from competition, but coach Derek Urban wouldn’t allow his squad to become rusty.
“I definitely saw things we emphasized with the team last week,” Urban said. “Kudos to the guys, they’ve worked hard.”
Thursday in Soldotna, it took 58 seconds to start the scoring. Matthew Daugherty delivered the opening strike with help from Ethan Brown, then added another goal in the third period. Alex Montague scored as well in the third period.
With the win, SoHi moved to 2-2-1 in the NSC and 8-5-1 overall. The Stars also improved to 5-1 on home ice.
SoHi junior Billy Yoder completed the 21-save shutout to earn the win.
“Billy was solid in net, but the five guys in front of him did a great job keeping pucks outside,” Urban said.
After beating Kenai 12-3 last Friday, Homer dropped to 1-4 in the conference and 6-9-0 overall with Thursday’s loss. Homer coach Justin Adams said the Mariners were caught playing an individual style of hockey, moving away from the team discipline Adams stresses.
“It was rough, it was definitely a different picture than last weekend,” Adams said. “But I told them that as bad as we played, it was still only 3-0.”
Homer goaltender Hunter Warren was harassed all game long, stopping 47 of 50 shots sent his direction.
After the early goal by Daugherty, SoHi continued to possess the puck, but the Stars offense went blank, giving up several scoring opportunities, including a shot that rattled off the pipe.
“(Homer’s) goalie had some scrambling saves, and we had a pipe shot, an open crease that we didn’t finish,” Urban said. “But we didn’t get frustrated.”
SoHi outshot Homer 19-2 in the second period but came up empty, leaving the Stars clinging to a 1-0 lead heading into the third frame. An interference penalty early in the third put Homer on the power play, but the Mariners failed to find a way by Yoder.
Ultimately, it was a SoHi power play that helped ease the tension, as Daugherty slipped in the insurance goal with 9:26 to play in the third period. Montague followed it up with a goal of his own less than a minute later, intercepting the puck in the SoHi zone and racing off for a breakaway.
While high school hockey is off until January, puck enthusiasts can still get their kicks tonight at the sports complex, when the high school alumni game drops the puck at 7 p.m. The exhibition clash will feature former Kenai Central and Soldotna players as well as former players from the defunct Nikiski and Skyview hockey teams. The teams are limited to 20 skaters and three goalies each.
Stars 3, Mariners 0
Homer 0 0 0 —0
Soldotna 1 0 2 —3
1st Period — 1. Soldotna, Daugherty (Brown), :58. Penalties — none.
2nd Period — no scoring. Penalties — Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
3rd Period — 2. Soldotna, Daugherty (Hensley, Lockwood), PP, 5:34; 3. Soldotna, Montague (unassisted), 6:14. Penalties — Soldotna 2 for 4:00; Homer 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Soldotna 14-19-17—50; Homer 9-2-10—21.