The Soldotna hockey team won a back-and-forth game 6-5 in overtime Thursday in the first round of the Division II state hockey tournament at the Curtis Menard Sports Complex in Wasilla.
Aiden Burcham, on player of the game Dylan Walton’s fifth assist and an assist from Silas Larsen, scored 1 minute, 30 seconds, into the eight-minute overtime period to end the game.
The Stars, runner-up at state last season, improve to 5-3 overall with their third overtime victory of the season against no losses.
Soldotna moves into a semifinal today with Palmer, which defeated Tri-Valley 11-0. The other semi features defending state champ Homer and North Pole at 7 p.m. Kenai plays Houston in a 10 a.m. consolation game, while Tri-Valley and Monroe have a consolation game at 1 p.m.
“I have to give both teams credit,” Soldotna coach Indy Walton said. “Actually, when the game was over, I gave my team a quick little speech and told them I had to go talk to the Monroe locker room.
“I told them overtime is the toughest loss to take because one shot wins the game, but you guys should be very proud of yourselves.”
Soldotna’s senior scoring line of Walton, Gavin Haakenson and Larsen had a big game. Larsen had two goals and an assist, while Haakenson scored twice.
Larsen, assisted by Walton and Burcham, had the lone goal of the first period.
In the second period, Monroe jumped ahead 2-1 on a pair of goals by Chris Hodges. Haakenson, assisted by Walton, tied the game heading into the third period.
Monroe jumped ahead by two again on goals by Hodges and Miles Fowler.
Walton said the bounces were not going his team’s way at that point, but he said everybody remained positive. Walton has plenty of experience coaching this group and he knew the Stars could score goals in bunches.
In a little under 4.5 minutes, Soldotna had a 5-4 lead. Dylan Dahlgren scored on a Burcham assist, Larsen scored on Walton and Ethan Yeager assists, and Haakenson scored on a Walton assist with 2:18 left in the game.
That set up overtime.
Ayden See had 22 saves for the Stars, while Jimmy Packee stopped 26 for the Rams. Walton said See did not have best best game, but came up big in pivotal situations.
“Monroe wouldn’t stop,” Walton said, crediting both teams with a clean game. “They showed a ton of heart and our guys came back and answered with the same.”
North Pole 4, Kardinals 2
The Patriots pulled away from the Kardinals in the final period to drop Kenai to 4-3 overall.
Kaleb Johnson put North Pole up 1-0 in the second period before Jacob Begich, assisted by Landen Cialek, tied the game with 2:55 left in the second. Daigen Johnson then gave the Patriots a 2-1 lead headed to the third.
With 10:54 left in the game, Begich squared things with an unassisted goal. Kaleb Johnson put North Pole up 3-2 with 7:23 to play, then Austin Manns had the final goal at 5:28.
Tommy Baker made 36 saves for Kenai, while Nic Clark stopped 22 for the Patriots.
Homer 6, Houston 3
The Mariners broke away from the Hawks in the third period to advance to the semifinal and move to 3-5 overall.
After a scoreless first period, Eric Preboski and Anfim Konev scored for Houston in the second and Hunter Green and Brock Barth scored for Homer in the second.
With 9:33 left in the game, Afanasy Efimov put Houston up 3-2, but Homer responded with four straight goals. The tallies came from Kazden Stineff, Green, Dylan Arno and Casey Otis.
Keegan Strong made 23 saves for Homer, while Ari Burnside stopped 24 for Houston.
Stars 6, Rams 5, OT
Soldotna 1 1 3 1 —6
Monroe 0 2 3 —5
First period — 1. Soldotna, Larsen (Walton, Burcham), 13:47. Penalties — Monroe 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 2. Monroe, Hodges (M. Fowler), 3:03; 3. Monroe, Hodges (Bailey, Coiley), 3:26; 4. Soldotna, Haakenson (Walton), 9:48. Penalties — Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 5. Monroe, Hodges (M. Fowler, Bailey), 2:04; 6. Monroe, M. Fowler (Weinberger, S. Fowler), 3:21; 7. Soldotna, Dahlgren (Burcham), 8:15; 8, Soldotna, Larsen (Walton, Yeager), 11:13; 9. Soldotna, Haakenson (Walton), sh, 12:42; 10. Monroe, Coiley (Hodges), 14:01. Penalties — Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Overtime — 11. Soldotna, Burcham (Larsen, Walton), 1:30. Penalties — none.
Goalies — Soldotna, See (27 shots, 22 saves); Monroe, Packee (32 shots, 26 saves).
Patriots 4, Kardinals 2
North Pole 0 2 2 —4
Kenai 0 1 1 —2
First period — none. Penalties — North Pole 1 for 2:00; Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 1. North Pole, K. Johnson (D. Johnson), pp, 1:34; 2. Kenai, Begich (Cialek), 12:05; 3. North Pole, D. Johnson (un.), sh, 12:16. Penalties — North Pole 3 for 6:00; Kenai 7 for 14:00.
Third period — 4. Kenai, Begich (un.), 4:06; 5. North Pole, K. Johnson (un.), 7:37; 6. North Pole, Manns (K. Johnson, Frollo), 9:32. Penalties — North Pole 2 for 4:00; Kenai 4 for 19:00.
Goalies — North Pole, Clark (24 shots, 22 saves); Kenai, Baker (40 shots, 36 saves).
Mariners 6, Hawks 3
Houston 0 2 1 —3
Homer 0 2 4 —6
First period — none. Penalties — none.
Second period — 1. Houston, Preboski (un.), 3:07; 2. Homer, Green (Barth), 7:33; 3. Homer, Barth (Green, Reutov), 12:25. Penalties — none.
Third period — 4. Houston, Efimov (un.), 5:27; 5. Homer, Green (un.), 11:08; 6. Homer, Arno (un.), 11:39; 7. Homer, Otis (Banks, Allen), 12:40. Penalties — Houston 1 for 5:00.
Goalies — Houston, Burnside (30 shots, 24 saves); Homer, Strong (26 shots, 23 saves).