It may be the holiday season, but both the Soldotna and Homer hockey teams were not in a giving mood Friday in Northstar Conference action at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
The two squads, who had played three times previously this season with SoHi winning twice, played to a scoreless draw. The Stars enter the holiday break at 5-6-2 and 0-3-1 in the conference, while the Mariners are 7-5-1 and 1-3-1.
“We wanted to win, but we’re also happy not to lose,” Soldotna coach Derek Urban said. “Defensively, we played well, but offensively I don’t think we got enough traffic in front of the net.”
Homer coach John Carlin also said the game was a relatively positive way to enter the break.
“It was a defensive battle, but all of that wasn’t necessarily due to the defense,” Carlin said. “Both offenses didn’t do what they typically do.”
Billy Yoder had 19 saves to record the shutout for Soldotna, while Markian Polushkin had 25 saves for Homer.
Not much can be read into the fact that Soldotna outshot Homer. It was the type of game where just as one team would appear to be getting a clear advantage by attacking at one end, the other team would rush down the ice and do some attacking of its own.
While neither goaltending performance was epic, both were solid. Yoder saved a breakaway and a contested breakaway, both by Garrett Butcher, in the third period.
“Billy was Billy when Billy had to be Billy,” Urban said.
About one minute into the eight-minute overtime, SoHi had a two-on-one that even could have been called a three-on-one, but Polushkin stood strong.
“He’s a senior. It’s his time to shine,” Carlin said. “Hopefully, he’ll continue to play well.”
Both coaches said a big key for the goalies was controlling rebounds.
“There weren’t too many mad scrambles in front of the net,” Urban said.
Urban credited forward and captain Ty Fenton for a solid game, and also said the defensemen played well, particularly in blocking shots. But SoHi was shut out for the second straight game.
“Our offensive focus needs to go up after the break, and our compete level has to go up a level, too,” Urban said.
Carlin added that the closely matched hockey on display Friday portends an exciting second half in the conference.
“When we play SoHi, it’s usually a one-puck game,” Carlin said. “Those are the games that are fun to be in.”
The game only had one penalty. Carlin said both SoHi and Homer play a similar style, which he called “clean and mean.”
Homer 0, Soldotna 0
Homer 0 0 0 0 —0
Soldotna 0 0 0 0 —0
First period — none. Penalties — none.
Second period — none. Penalties — Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Third period — none. Penalties — none.
Overtime — none. Penalties — none.
Shots on goal — Homer 7-4-7-1—19; Soldotna 8-5-8-4—25.
Goalies — Homer, Polushkin (25 shots, 25 saves); Soldotna, Yoder (19 shots, 19 saves).