The Soldotna hockey team got two power-play goals in the third period to defeat Kenai Central 4-2 on Friday in Railbelt Conference action at the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility.
The Stars moved to 1-1 in the league, and the Kardinals fell to 1-2-1, as Soldotna avenged a 6-5, nonconference loss to Kenai on Nov. 2.
“We didn’t play very well that game and Kenai did,” said Soldotna head coach Indy Walton, whose team won despite not having star defenseman Galen Brantley III due to illness. “That game was definitely on my mind.
“Kenai’s got good coaches, they’ve got good kids, they’re pulling together. They’re going to be a team that at the end of the year, I think, will end up in that top four.”
Kenai head coach Scott Shelden was not at Friday’s game. Assistant coach Jenna Redford said the Kards showed a pattern of lack of discipline throughout the game, whether it was ending up in the penalty box, lack of fundamentals or not executing on special teams.
Redford added she believes there are players in the Kenai locker room that will bring a disciplined team back to the ice.
“There was just a bunch of little, tiny things that show me they were not mentally engaged,” she said.
SoHi got the upper hand in the first period, outshooting the Kards 10-4. Walton was impressed with the way Kenai goalie Tommy Baker kept the puck out of the net until the final minute, when David Aley and Alex Montague lit the lamp for the Stars. Walton said his son, Dylan Walton, had nice assists on both of the goals.
“Instead of taking it to them and playing our game, we waited and played their game,” Redford said. “They made us pay for it. They severely outplayed us in the first period.”
Things changed with 9 minutes, 43 seconds, left in the second period, when Kenai captain Jordan Knudsen took advantage of a SoHi defensive mistake for a 2-1 game.
Redford said she told Knudsen before the period that the team was struggling and it was up to him to change that.
“He scored a goal,” she said. “That’s what leaders do. They either lead by example or they have a talk with them. He took that weight 100 percent on his shoulders and he scored a goal.”
With the momentum changed, the Stars committed another costly turnover 2 1/2 minutes later and Miles Marston tied the game.
“Those two goals in the second period, we made the assist on,” Walton said.
Kenai’s hopes of pulling out a victory would be hampered by taking 14 minutes of penalties in the third period. Soldotna also started the third period with 1:20 left on a power play that was sure to be key in the outcome of the game.
“We talked in the locker room that we need to score right now, that that would be a big goal in the outcome of the game,” Walton said.
Trent Powell scored for SoHi with just a second left on the power play.
Redford said a defenseman went to the point, and a forward didn’t switch back, leaving a gap.
“You’ve got Trent Powell up there, the smartest defenseman I’ve seen at his age,” Redford said. “He’s going to see those weaknesses and capitalize every time.”
Wyatt Medcoff would add a power-play goal with 1:51 left to ice the game.
Josh Tree stopped 15 for Soldotna, while Baker saved 29 for Kenai.
Walton said Tree was solid in net and Briar Books was good on defense until taking penalties. Jose Montague and Libby Miller keyed a solid third-line performance, Dylan Dahlgren played well though illness, and Medcoff and Journey Miller were their two usual, consistent selves.
Both teams are off now for the Christmas break.
Stars 4, Kardinals 2
Soldotna 2 0 2 —4
Kenai 0 2 0 —2
First period — 1. Soldotna, Aley (Walton, A. Montague), 13:50; 2. Soldotna, A. Montague (Walton, Aley), 14:31. Penalties — Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 3. Kenai, Knudsen (Warren, D. Shelden), 5:17; 4. Kenai, Marston (C. Stock), 7:52. Penalties — Soldotna 2 for 4; Kenai 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 5. Soldotna, Powell (Books), pp, 1:19; 6. Soldotna, Medcoff (un.), pp, 13:09. Penalties — Soldotna 4 for 8:00; Kenai 6 for 14:00.
Shots on goal — Soldotna 10-6-17—33; Kenai 4-9-4—17.