The Soldotna Stars hockey squad finished off the regular season with a come-from-behind 3-1 win over Kenai Central Saturday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
The win left SoHi with a 3-6-1 season record and the fourth seed in the North Star Conference, while Kenai dropped at 2-8-0 and is the sixth seed. Soldotna will face fifth-seeded Homer (3-6-1) in the conference tournament next week, while the Kards will play Colony, the No. 3 seed.
“I think we pulled it off simply with hard work,” said SoHi coach Derek Urban. “Kenai’s improved as the year’s gone on, and we went down a goal, but I told them not to get uptight on the bench.”
SoHi senior Justice Miller celebrated a successful senior night by playing a role in all three Soldotna goals, scoring the final two unassisted. On Miller’s first goal, he carried the puck 200 feet before finishing with a backhand for the go-ahead strike.
“I was really hoping he was gonna pass across, because we had a wing wide open,” Urban said. “I was hoping he’d make that pass but as soon as he gained speed, at that point we knew that pass wasn’t gonna happen, and he made a great play.”
Miller’s last goal was an empty-netter with 35 seconds left in the game.
Kenai opened the scoring in the second period with a shot from Cody Arbelovsky, whose goal went in off the pipe to put the Kards up 1-0 at the 6:29 mark of the period.
Calvin Hills tied the game up with a wrister from the slot, and from there, Miller secured the win with his two goals. SoHi outshot Kenai 30-12 in the final two periods of play.
Freshman Billy Yoder stopped 16 of 17 shots on goal for Soldotna, and senior Nate O’Lena saves 36 of 38 shots for Kenai. Urban praised Yoder’s effort, including a crucial midair grab midway through the third period when SoHi led 2-1.
“He flashed the leather and made a nice save, and it was what we needed,” Urban said.
Stars 3, Kardinals 1
Soldotna 0 1 2 —3
Kenai 0 1 0 —1
First period – none. Penalties — none.
Second period – 1. Kenai, Arbelovsky (O’Brien), 6:29; 2. Soldotna, Hills (Miller), 11:02. Penalties — Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 3. Soldotna, Miller (un.), 7:51; 4. Soldotna, Miller (un.), en, 14:25. Penalties — none.
Shots — Soldotna 9-13-17—39; Kenai 5-8-4—17.
Goalies — Soldotna, Yoder (17 shots, 16 saves); Kenai, O’Lena (38 shots, 36 saves).