The Soldotna hockey team capped the North Star Conference regular season with a tight 5-2 victory over Kenai Central, Saturday night at the Kenai Multipurpose Facility.
The win left SoHi squarely in the third spot in the six-team conference with a final record of 5-4-1, matching the Stars up with the 1-9-0 Homer Mariners on the first day of next weekend’s NSC tournament.
Kenai finished fifth in the standings at 2-8-0, leaving the Kards with a matchup with fourth-seeded Palmer (3-6-1) at the tournament.
Wasilla led the way with a pristine NSC campaign of 10-0-0, while Colony took second at 8-2-0. Both teams will receive first-day byes for the region tournament.
Saturday in Kenai, the two hard-nosed rivals battled in a close matchup. SoHi finished the game with a slim shots advantage of 36-35. The Stars took command early with a pair of goals from Corey Hanson and Parker Lockwood, but Kenai cut the lead in half with a goal by Levi Mese late in the first period, which ended 2-1 SoHi.
After Alex Montague scored the lone goal of the second period to put the Stars up 4-2, Kenai answered early in the third period with another strike from Mese, but the Kards would fail to find a way past SoHi goalie Billy Yoder the rest of the way. Montague and Braxton Urban slotted in insurance goals in the final 73 seconds of the game.
Yoder ultimately ended up with 33 saves on 35 shots to earn the win, while Kenai tender Ryan Williams made 31 saves in the losing effort.
Stars 5, Kardinals 2
Soldotna 2 1 2 — 5
Kenai 1 0 1 — 2
First period — 1. Soldotna, Hanson (Montague, Lockwood), 3:47; 2. Soldotna, Lockwood (B. Urban, Wackler), 11:10; 3. Kenai, Mese (Hagel), 11:54. Penalties — Soldotna 2 for 4:00; Kenai 3 for 6:00.
Second period — 4. Soldotna, Montague (Lockwood), 11:20. Penalties — Soldotna 2 for 12:00; Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 5. Kenai, Mese (unassisted), 1:10; 6. Soldotna, Montague (Lockwood), 13:47; 7. Soldotna, B. Urban (Montague), EN, 14:50. Penalties — Soldotna 2 for 4:00; Kenai 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal — Soldotna 14-11-11—36; Kenai 13-12-10—35.