WASILLA — Powered by three special teams goals, the Colony Knights earned a 4-1 North Star Conference win over the Soldotna Stars on Saturday at the Menard Arena in Wasilla.
SoHi fell to a 1-2-1 conference record and 6-3-1 overall.
“I thought we played good today. It was a huge step in the right direction,” said Colony coach Jamie Smith. “I felt good about it. At the end of the day, we’ve got a lot more confidence.”
The victory over Soldotna marked Colony’s fourth straight. And with it, the Knights swept a weekend full of North Star Conference games against Peninsula opponents. Thursday, Colony rocked Kenai Central 9-1. Friday, the Knights netted a 6-1 win over Homer.
Saturday, Cooper Smith and Foster Riekena each scored power-play goals to help Colony improve to 3-1-0 in NSC play. Smith said the success with the advantage is product of a few changes and a lot of work during practice.
“We worked all week on the power play,” Smith said. “We figured it out and are comfortable with it.”
Arguably the biggest goal of the game came late in the second period with the Knights skating shorthanded. With the game tied at 1, Jake Kirsch fed a pass ahead to Jake Hessinger, who buried the puck and supplied the eventual game-winning goal.
“It kind of propelled us,” Smith said of the play.
Riekena and Kirsch provided insurance for the Knights late in the third. Riekena posted his power-play tally with 3:10 remaining in the game. Less than a minute later, Kirsch scored to give the Knights the three-goal lead.
Colony outshot Soldotna 26-13 in the win. Smith said a key to playing SoHi is not letting Soldotna’s standout goaltender, senior Billy Yoder, get too comfortable.
“He’s real tough,” Smith said. “It’s tough to get pucks by him.”
Atois Nuenzert scored the lone goal for the Stars. The goal, set up by a feed from Parker Lockwood, came just more than a minute after Colony took the 1-0 lead.
Palmer 10, Kenai 3
Levi Mese gave Kenai the early lead, but Palmer erupted for 10 goals in a big win over the Kards Saturday afternoon.
Mese found the back of the net at the 9:49 mark of the first, and Kenai held the advantage for about six minutes of play. Palmer was able to answer with two goals during a 33-second span late in the first to take the advantage. RJ Avezac tied the score at 1, and David Scully quickly pushed Palmer ahead.
Matthew Zorbas and Jakeb O’Brien also scored for Kenai, but the Kards could not keep pace with the Moose. Palmer freshman Ketterman scored four straight goals to lead the Moose. Luke Thiesen and Avezac added two goals each. Chase Rosenberg also scored.
Kenai dropped to 0-4 in NSC play and 2-8 overall at the end of the weekend.
Wasilla 5, Homer 3
Wasilla improved to 4-0-0 in NSC play with a win over Homer on Saturday in Wasilla.
PALMER — The Palmer Moose needed a mad scramble to answer a Soldotna surge.
Soldotna rallied with a pair of third-period goals, but Palmer scored during the final seconds of regulation during a 3-3 tie Friday night at the MTA Events Center in Palmer.
“It was a great, exciting game, and it’s something the boys can build on,” said SoHi coach Derek Urban. “We have the opportunity to leave here with one more point than last time.”
A pair of freshmen came up with the big goals late. Soldotna freshman Galen Brantley III scored with 3:06 left in the third to give the Stars the 3-2 lead, but Palmer freshman Jaron Ketterman knocked a loose puck in with seven seconds left to knot the game at 3.
“Right toward the end, they dug down deep,” Palmer head coach Dean Wilson said after the tie. “We had some questionable moments there in the last few minutes of the game, but they did good.’
Palmer outshot Soldotna 8-0 in the tiebreaker, but Soldotna senior goalie Billy Yoder made all eight stops to keep the game tied.
“We’ve got a pretty high-end goalie, but that goalie they’ve got, he’s good, very good,” Wilson said of Yoder. “You’re not going to get easy goals on him.”
Yoder and Palmer senior netminder Cody Grogan combined for 55 saves in the tie. Yoder made 30 saves, while Grogan finished with 25.
“It could be,” Wilson said of the potential of Yoder and Grogan standing as the top two netminders in the North Star Conference. “Cody wasn’t giving up very much. They’re not going to give you many opportunities.”
Ketterman’s goal came with the Moose playing with the extra attacker. After Palmer won the draw on the left side of the SoHi defensive zone, Moose forward RJ Avezac played the puck across the zone. Chase Rosenberg kept the possession alive, and Ketterman was able to poke the puck into the left side of the net.
Ketterman’s score answered SoHi’s late third-period surge. Trailing 2-1 with less than five minutes remaining in regulation, Soldotna captain Ethan Brown scored to tie the game at 2. Less than two minutes later, SoHi’s Braxton Urban sent a pass up through the neutral zone. With a burst of speed, Brantley III chased down the loose puck, beat a pair of defenseman and scored on a short breakaway to give the Stars their first lead of the day.
After the late Ketterman goal, Palmer was able to control play in overtime, but Yoder kept the game at 3.
“We didn’t give them anything in overtime. We just couldn’t sink the puck,” Wilson said.
After a scoreless first period, Ketterman, who posted a three-point night, scored early in the second to give the Moose their first lead. Garrett Ropka set up the play with a shot from the point, Ketterman sent a deflection past Yoder to put the Moose on the scoreboard.
Just about a minute later, SoHi scored in nearly identical fashion.
Soldotna senior Levi Hensley blasted a shot from the point, and Urban deflected the puck to tie the score at 1.
Late in the period, Rosenberg scored to give the Moose the 2-1 lead.
Wasilla 13, Kenai 2
The Warriors blasted the Kardinals in North Star Conference action Friday night at Brett Memorial Ice Arena in Wasilla.
After staking out a 4-2 lead in the first period, Wasilla scored six times in the second frame to ice the victory. In the end, Alex Engan notched five goals, Russell Harren had five points on three goals and two assists, Austin Stevens had five points on four assists, and Alex Clark added four assists.
Levi Mese scored both of Kenai’s goals in the first period. With the loss, the Kards fell to 0-3 in the conference, 2-7 overall.
Colony 6, Homer 0
The Knights blanked the Mariners Friday night at the Menard Sports Complex in Wasilla.
Jake Kirsch used a four-point night to help Colony improve to 2-1-0 in the North Star Conference. The forward recorded two goals and two assists. Te’sean Evans, Dayne Cole, Cade Havel and Jake Hessinger also scored for the Knights.
Dimitry Kuzmin supplied the only goal for Homer, which dropped to 0-2-0 in NSC play.
The Peninsula Clarion contributed to these reports.
Knights 4, Stars 1
Soldotna 1 0 0 —1
Colony 1 1 2 —4
First period — 1. Colony- Smith (Avoletta), PP, 11:27; 2. Soldotna- Nuenzet (Lockwood) 10:08.
Second period — 3. Colony- Hessinger (Kirsch, Crosta) SH 1:37.
Third period — 4. Colony- Riekena (Avoletta, Monaco), PP, 3:10; 5. Colony- Kirsch (Hessinger, Crosta) 2:12.
Shots on goal — Soldotna 5-6-2—13, Colony 9-8-9—26.
Goalies — Soldotna- Yoder 8-7-7—22, Colony- Diltz 4-6-2—12.
Moos e 10, Kardinals 3
Kenai 1 1 1 —3
Palmer 2 4 4 —10
First period — 1. Kenai- Mese (O’Brien, Hagel); 2. Palmer- Avezac (Foster) 3:04; 3. Palmer- Scully (unassisted) 2:31.
Second period — 4. Kenai- Zorbas (Knutson, Beiser) 13:14; 5. Palmer- Thiesen (Avezac, Foster) 10:25; 6. Palmer- Rosenberg (E. Armstrong, Pierce) 5:31; 7. Palmer- Avezac (Thiesen, Scully) 2:11; 8. Palmer- Ketterman (Foster) 0:42.
Third period — 9. Palmer- Ketterman (unassisted) 14:21; 10. Palmer- Ketterman (Keil) 10:40; 11. Palmer- Ketterman (Rosenberg) 9:49; 12. Kenai- O’Brien (unassisted) 6:34; 13. Palmer- Thiesen (unassisted) 4:05.
Shots on goal — Kenai 6-5-5—16, Palmer 14-19-11—44.
Goalies — Kenai- Williams 12-15-7—34, Palmer- Winder 5-4-4—13.
Stars 3, Moose 3, OT
Soldotna 0 1 2 0 —3
Palmer 0 2 1 0 —3
1st period — no scoring. Penalties — Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
2nd period — 1. Palmer, Ketterman (Ropka), 4:17; 2. Soldotna, B. Urban (Hensley, Neunzert), 5:23; 3. Palmer, Rosenberg (Ketterman), 10:02. Penalties — Soldotna 1 for 2:00; Palmer 1 for 2:00.
3rd period — 4. Soldotna, Brown (Witthus), 10:08; 5. Soldotna, Brantley (B. Urban), 11:54; 6. Palmer, Ketterman (Rosenberg), 14:53.
Overtime — no scoring. Penalties — Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Soldotna 11-7-10-0—28; Palmer 8-10-7-8—33.
Goalies — Soldotna, Yoder (33 shots, 30 saves); Palmer, Grogan (28 shots, 25 saves).
Warriors 13, Kardinals 2
Kenai 2 0 0 —2
Wasilla 4 6 3 —13
1st period — 1. Wasilla, Stevens (Harren, Clark), 3:07; 2. Wasilla, Harren (Stevens, Clark), 3:19; 3. Kenai, Mese (O’Brien, Zorbas), 4:11; 4. Wasilla, Harren (Clark), 7:59; 5. Wasilla, Engan (Conroy, Abbott); 6. Kenai, Mese (unassisted), 14:00. Penalties — none.
2nd period — 7. Wasilla, Harren (Abbott, Larson), 8:48; 8. Wasilla, Engan (Bayliffe, Stevens), 9:55; 9. Wasilla, Lutz (Clark), 10:50; 10. Wasilla, Engan (Conroy, Bayliffe), 12:08; 11. Engan (Conroy, Stevens), 13:58; 12. Wasilla, Moore (Stevens, Harren), 14:25. Penalties — Kenai 1 for 2:00; Wasilla 1 for 2:00.
3rd period — 13. Wasilla, Abbott (unassisted), 2:24; 14. Wasilla, Jones (unassisted), 2:31; 15. Wasilla, Engan (Bayliffe), 11:15. Penalties — Kenai 2 for 4:00; Wasilla 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai 6-5-2—13; Wasilla 23-17-11—41.
Goalies — Kenai, Williams (41 shots, 28 saves); Wasilla, Carney (13 shots, 11 saves).
Knights 6, Mariners 1
Homer 0 1 0 —1
Colony 3 1 2 —6
First period — 1. Colony- Evans (Hessinger, Kirsch) 11:51; 2. Colony- Kirsch (Hessinger, Crosta) 4:22; 3. Colony- Cole (Kirsch) 0:40.
Second period — 4. Homer- Kuzmin (Blakely) 14:16; 5. Colony- Havel (Riekena, Smith) 8:26.
Third period — 6. Hessinger (Evans) 8:07; 7. Colony- Kirsch (Evans, Hessinger) 7:55.
Shots on goal — Homer 4-3-4—11, Colony 13-13-17—43.
Goalies — Homer- Warren 10-12-15—37, Colony- Diltz 4-2-4—10.