WASILLA — In early December, Homer stunned three-time defending North Star Conference champion Colony with a goal during the final seconds of overtime. Friday, the Knights had another crack at the Mariners. And now Colony is back on top of the conference standings.
Colony scored four unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 win over the Mariners at the Menard Arena in Wasilla.
Homer wrapped up the weekend of NLC play Saturday with a 4-0 win over Palmer, moving their conference record to 6-2-0 and 13-4-0 overall.
Colony head coach Jamie Smith said the Knights certainly had Friday’s game against Homer circled on its calendar. Colony looked to avenge its lone conference loss of the regular season. But looking ahead, Smith said, the Knights needed their win to help ensure they are where they want to be on the NSC Championships bracket.
“Bottom line, if we don’t win that game it’s going to be us playing Wasilla on the (bottom side) of the bracket,” Smith said. “Wasilla doesn’t want that. We don’t want that.”
Colony improved to 6-1-0 with the win, jumping ahead of both Homer and Wasilla (5-2-0) in the standings. As it currently stands, Colony would be on the opposite side of Homer and Wasilla on the region bracket.
“We want to let Wasilla and Homer battle it out on the other side.”
Colony’s top line of forwards accounted for all five goals in the win. The NLC rivals skated through a scoreless first period, were tied at 1 after the second, and Homer took a lead early in the third. Shortly after Spencer Warren scored to give the Mariners their first lead of the game, Smith said the Knights were able to find a way to pull the momentum back their way.
“The big thing, the kids put the pedal down, got pretty tenacious,” Smith said. “Got after them.”
Smith said his veterans also stepped up, and took over the game.
Seniors Cooper Smith and Foster Riekena, two-third of the top line, combined for three goals during a nine-minute span in the third. The other member of the line, junior Mitchell Diltz, tallied Colony’s first and fifth goals of the game.
Trailing 2-1, Cooper Smith scored the first of his two goals to tie the score at 2. At the 5:48 mark, Riekena scored to give the Knights the lead. Smith blasted a one-time on the power play to push Colony’s advantage to 4-2. Diltz buried an empty-netter during the final seconds.
Colony outshot Homer 39-15 in the win. Hunter Warren made 34 saves for the Mariners.
“Their goaltender played really well,” Smith said.
Homer skated into the holiday break with a 5-0-0 record in conference play. In December, Homer made school history, recording a home sweep against the three Valley teams on consecutive days for the first time in school history.
“They never stop working,” Smith said of the Mariners. “They’re tough to play. They’re gritty.”
In Saturday’s win over Palmer, the Mariners got a pair of goals from Ethan Pitzman and one each from Dimitry Kuzmin and Spencer Warren. Kuzmin opened the scoring early in the second period and Warren added to it before the frame was over.
Pitzman notched both his goals in the third period.
Homer goaltender Hunter Warren clinched the perfect sheet by stopping 10 shots.
Wasilla 4, Kenai 1
WASILLA — There’s never too much time on the power play, unless you’re the one on the penalty kill.
During the final two periods Saturday, Kenai Central spent ample time skating short-handed. Wasilla had eight power plays, held the two-man advantage three times and tallied four power play goals during a North Star Conference win over the Kardinals at the Brett Memorial Ice Arena in Wasilla.
Wasilla head coach Trent Schachle said it was a great opportunity to get his power-play unit some extra work in game action.
“Even if we’re up, I like to run our No. 1 power play every time,” Schachle said after the win. “We need to practice it. You can’t be too good at it.”
And the unit produced, finishing 4 of 8 with the advantage, and factoring into each of the goals. The Wasilla special teams also helped the Warriors get past Kenai, despite the performance of Kenai goalie Joshua Tree.
Tree didn’t allow an even strength goal, and stopped 49 of Wasilla’s 53 shots.
“He played really well,” Schachle said of Tree. “That’s a lot of saves.”
Alex Engan led the Warriors with a pair of power-play goals in the win. Porter Schachle was a part of every goal, bagging a goal and three assists. Hayden Masterson also had a pair of assists in the win.
Levi Mese, who scored for the third straight day in the Valley, posted Kenai’s lone goal.
The teams combined for 22 shots during a scoreless first period. Porter Schachle gave the Warriors their first lead of the game, scoring seconds into a power play at the 4:53 mark of the second period. Just more than two minutes later, Engan fired a puck from the right wing circle to grab his first goal of the game.
Mese cut Wasilla’s lead in half early in the third. The winger raced up the right side of the ice, and snapped a wrister from the outside edge of the right wing circle. Engan pushed his team’s lead back to a pair with his second power play goal midway through the third. Dillon Matson added a goal late in the period.
Engan’s second goal and Matson’s score both came with the Warriors skating 5-on-3.
Wasilla outshot Kenai 19-1 in the second period, and 41-9 during the final two periods.
Sean Carney made 18 saves in the win.
Wasilla, now 6-2 in the North Star Conference, finished its weekend 3-0 against its Peninsula foes, outscoring them 14-2. Kenai, now 1-7-0, dropped three straight in the Valley, including a 5-4 overtime loss to Palmer on Friday.
Colony 6, Soldotna 1
Tae’jean Evans bagged a hat trick to lead Colony to a 6-1 win over Soldotna on Saturday afternoon at the Menard Arena in Wasilla.
With three conference wins during the weekend, Colony now sits alone at the top of the standings with a 7-1-0 record. Soldotna, 0-3-0 this weekend, is now 1-7-0.
Homer 4, Palmer 0
Ethan Pitzman scored a pair of unassisted goals in the third period to lead Homer to an NSC win over Palmer on Saturday at the MTA Events Center in Palmer.
Pitzman also bagged an assist in the second period to help the Mariners rebound from back-to-back losses in the Valley. Dimitry Kuzmin and Spencer Warren also scored. Hunter Warren recorded the 10-save shutout.
TJ O’Rourke made 25 saves for the Moose.
Homer, now 6-2-0 in conference play, finished 1-2-0 during its three days in the Valley. Palmer, 1-2-0 during the weekend, is now 3-5-0 in NSC play.
Palmer 5, Kenai 4, OT
PALMER — Early in overtime, Palmer senior Noah Keil broke free, cruised down the ice and snapped a shot just above the crossbar of the Kenai net. But that would not be Palmer’s only opportunity during extra time.
Fellow senior David Scully had another breakaway midway through the period. The Palmer forward beat a pair of defenders and buried the puck high in the Kenai net with 4:29 left to give the Moose a 5-4 overtime victory over the Kardinals Friday night at the MTA Events Center in Palmer.
“That was pretty good for these guys. They were working hard,” Palmer head coach Dean Wilson said of the opportunities in overtime after the win. “The players we had out there, they already had a long game. They were getting a lot of ice time.”
Scully’s goal, his second of the game, helped Palmer overcome Kenai’s four-goal second period, and allowed the Moose to improve to 3-4-0 in North Star Conference play.
“The kids had a good game,” Wilson said.
Palmer played for the second straight night after about a three-week holiday break. Not only were the Moose working to knock some rust off, Wilson said a number of players are hitting the ice with new roles.
“We made a lot of switches. Half of the team is in new positions,” Wilson said.
Wilson said Palmer has moved some forwards to the back line, and they’re adjusting. Wilson said that factored into Kenai’s big second period.
“It took them a while to settle in with that,” Wilson said.
Kenai’s strengths also showed during the second.
“Kenai’s a pretty good team. They’ve got some hard hitters, and some speed,” Wilson said.
Wilson said Kenai was able to take advantage of some things in the middle frame.
Palmer built a 3-0 lead, outshooting the Kards 10-3 in the first period. But Kenai stormed back. Early in the second, Matt Hagel scored to put Kenai on the scoreboard. Less than three minutes later, Nate Beiser scored on a breakaway to cut Palmer’s lead to 3-2. Levi Mese tied the score at 3, after beating a pair of defenders and firing a shot from top of the right wing circle.
Darian Wilson put Palmer back on top with a shorthanded goal late in the second period. Scully created a turnover in the Kenai defensive zone. After a quick pass from Scully, Wilson was left one-on-one with Kenai goalie Joshua Tree, and lifted the puck into the net to give Palmer the 4-3 advantage.
But that lead lasted only 23 seconds.
With Kenai still on the power play, Jake O’Brien grabbed the puck in his own zone, raced up the right side of the ice and ripped a shot from the outside edge of the right wing circle into the far side of the Palmer net. That tied the score at 4.
Kenai collected 21 of its 28 total shots in the second period. Palmer held Kenai to only four shots in the third and zero in overtime.
“Third period, we started to come alive,” Wilson said.
Nathan Hooks, Keil and Scully each scored in the first period to give the Moose the early lead. Ethan Welch helped create Palmer’s first goal, firing a shot from the right point. The puck deflected off the sticks of both Wilson and Hooks before bouncing into the net. Keil scored five-hole and the power play with about five minutes left in the first. Scully tucked a shot just inside the post from the left wing circle later in the first to give Palmer the 3-0 lead.
The Moose were also able to bounce back from a 3-1 loss to Soldotna, with the win.
“It was good to get a win after last night’s loss,” Wilson said.
Palmer caps its weekend, hosting Homer Saturday at noon.
Wasilla 9, Soldotna 0
The Wasilla Warriors earned a shutout for the second straight night, blasting Soldotna 9-0 on Friday.
Porter Schachle enjoyed a five-point night, netting a hat trick and two assists for the Warriors. Chase Schachle and Slayte Wohlers added two goals each. Hayden Masterson and Dillon Matson also scored.
Sean Carney made 20 saves in the shutout.
Soldotna coach Indy Walton wrote in a text that Wasilla has improved a lot as a team. He also wrote the Stars rested Galen Brantley III due to an injury. Walton was impressed his team did not have a penalty for the second time this season.
Wasilla 1, Homer 0
Garrison Holler, assisted by Devin Carney and McKinley Larson, scored the game-winner with 9 minutes, 57 seconds, left in the third period Thursday to secure victory for the host Warriors and snap an 11-game winning streak for Homer and drop the Mariners to 5-1 in the league.
Aaron Campbell had 18 saves to record the shutout for Wasilla, while Hunter Warren stopped 26 for the Mariners.
Warriors 1, Mariners 0
Homer 0 0 0 — 0
Wasilla 0 0 1 — 1
First period — none. Penalties — Homer 1 for 2:00; Wasilla 1 for 2:00.
Second period — none. Penalties — Homer 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 1. Wasilla, Holler (Carney, Larson), 5:03. Penalties — Homer 1 for 2:00; Wasilla 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Homer 7-8-3—18; Wasilla 14-7-6—27.
Goalies — Homer, H. Warren (27 shots, 26 saves); Wasilla, Campbell (18 shots, 18 saves).
Knights 5, Mariners 2
First period — no scoring.
Second period — 1. Colony- Diltz (Reid, Evans) 13:35; 2. Homer- Kuzmin (Pitzman, Weston) 0:13.
Third period — 3. Homer- S. Warren (unassisted) 12:47; 4. Colony- Smith (Ketchum) 11:48; 5. Colony- Riekena (Diltz, Smith) 5:48; 6. Colony- Smith (Hessinger) pp 2:49; 7. Colony- Diltz (Smith) en 0:06.
Shots on goal: Homer 4-3-8—15, Colony 12-14-12—39; Saves: Homer- H. Warren 13-13-8—34; Colony- Doss 4-2-7—13.
Moose 5, Kardinals 4, OT
First period — 1. Palmer- Hooks (Wilson, Welch) 7:09; 2. Palmer- Keil (Avezac) 5:01; 3. Palmer- Scully (Hooks) 1:00.
Second period — 4. Kenai- Hagel (Beiser) 13:56; 5. Kenai- Beiser (O’Brien) 10:55; 6. Kenai- Mese (O’Brien, Every) 9:09; 7. Palmer- Wilson (Scully) sh 1:41; 8. Kenai- O’Brien (Hagel) pp 1:18.
Third period — no scoring.
Overtime — 9. Palmer- Scully (unassisted) 4:29.
Shots on goal: Kenai 3-21-4-0—28, Palmer- 10-5-7-2—24; Saves: Kenai- Tree 7-4-7-1—19, Palmer- O’Rourke 3-17-4-0—24.
Warriors 9, Stars 0
Soldotna 0 0 0 — 0
Wasilla 5 1 3 — 9
First period — 1. Wasilla, C. Schachle (Moore, P. Schachle), 2:23; 2. Wasilla, Matson (Woolcott), 3:29; 3. Wasilla, P. Schachle (C. Schachle, Woolcott), 5:06; 4. Wasilla, Wohlers (Masterson), 8:43; 5. Wasilla, P. Schachle (un.), 10:26. Penalties — Wasilla 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 6. Wasilla, Masterson (un.), 11:12. Penalties — none.
Third period — 7. Wasilla, C. Schachle (P. Schachle, Roush), 2:21; 8. Wasilla, Wohlers (Massie, Woolcott), 6:46; 9. Wasilla, P. Schachle (un.), 8:39. Penalties — Wasilla 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Soldotna 4-6-10—20; Wasilla 17-10-13—40.
Goalies — Soldotna, Wirz (40 shots, 31 saves); Wasilla, Carney (20 shots, 20 saves).
Warriors 4, Kardinals 1
First period — no scoring
Second period — 1. Wasilla- P. Schachle (unassisted) pp 4:53; 2. Wasilla- Engan (Masterson, Schachle) pp 2:15.
Third period — 3. Kenai- Mese (unassisted) 13:51; 4. Wasilla- Engan (P. Schachle) pp 8:17; 5. Wasilla- Matson (P. Schachle, Masterson) pp 5:25.
Shots on goal: Kenai 10-1-8—19, Wasilla 12-19-22—53; Saves: Kenai- Tree 12-17-20—49, Wasilla- S. Carney 10-1-7—18.
Homer 4, Palmer 0
First period — no scoring.
Second period — 1. Homer- Kuzmin (S. Warren, Pitzman) 10:25; 2. Homer- S. Warren (Kuzmin) 1:22.
Third period — 3. Homer- Pitzman (unassisted) 14:39; 4. Homer- Pitzman (unassisted) 10:05.
Shots on goal: Homer 7-15-7—29, Palmer 2-3-5—10; Saves: Homer- H. Warren 2-3-5—10; Palmer- O’Rourke 7-13-5—25.