Kenai Central’s Koda Norbeck and Soldotna’s Gehret Medcoff battle for the puck Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Koda Norbeck and Soldotna’s Gehret Medcoff battle for the puck Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

SoHi hockey tops Kenai in overtime

Staff report

Soldotna’s Gehret Medcoff scored 53 seconds into overtime to give the Stars a 3-2 victory over Kenai Central on Thursday in Railbelt Conference play at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

The loss in Kenai’s final regular season game is crucial in the hunt for the conference title. Kenai finishes at 8-3-1 in the league and 12-8-1 overall.

Houston defeated Kodiak 6-1 on Thursday. Kenai athletic director Jesse Settlemyer said that game counts double in the standings, since the Hawks and Bears were only able to play once this season. That moves Houston to 8-2 in the league with games against Juneau today and Saturday. If the Hawks win one of those games, they secure the title.

Soldotna, which will finish in the top four of the Railbelt and get a berth to state, is now 11-7-2 overall and 6-3-2 in the league. The Stars travel to Homer (6-10-1, 5-5-1) to finish the regular season at 7 p.m. today.

The Division II state tournament, which will be held at the Curtis Menard Sports Complex in Wasilla from Feb. 3 to 5, is shaping up to be a classic with all the parity in the Railbelt.

Soldotna and Kenai showed why with another close battle Thursday. On Oct. 30 in nonconference play, Kenai topped Soldotna 6-5 in overtime. In conference play on Dec. 14, the two teams played to a 4-all tie before going to overtime once again Thursday in what head coach Anthony Zurfluh called a great battle by both teams.

Kenai took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission when Jacob Begich, assisted by Landen Cialek, scored with 5:54 left in the first.

Just 43 seconds into the second period, Aiden Burcham, assisted by Dylan Dahlgren and Josh O’Lena, scored on the power play to even the game. Dahlgren, assisted by Medcoff and O’Lena, gave SoHi a 2-1 lead headed to the third.

Late in the game, Kenai went on the power play and also pulled the goalie, leading to a Koda Norbeck goal, assisted by Begich and Logan Mese, with just 12 seconds left.

In overtime, Dahlgren assisted on Medcoff’s winner.

Ayden See had 24 saves for the Stars, while Carson Koppes stopped 26 for the Kardinals.

Thursday

Stars 3, Kardianls 2, OT

Kenai 1 0 1 0 —2

Soldotna 0 2 0 1 —3

First period — 1. Kenai, Begich (Cialek), 9:06. Penalties — Kenai 3 for 6:00; Soldotna 2 for 4:00.

Second period — 2. Soldotna, Burcham (Dahlgren, O’Lena), pp, 0:43; 3. Soldotna, Dahlgren (Medcoff, O’Lena), 10:38. Penalties — Kenai 1 for 2:00; Soldotna 1 for 2:00.

Third period — 4. Kenai, Norbeck (Begich, Mese), 14:48. Penalties — Soldotna 1 for 2:00.

Overtime — 5. Soldotna, Medcoff (Dahlgren), 0:53. Penalties — none.

Shots on goal — Kenai 6-11-8-1—26; Soldotna 8-13-7-1—29.

Goalies — Kenai, Koppes (29 shots, 26 saves); Soldotna, See (26 shots, 24 saves).

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