The fifth-seeded Kenai Central Kardinals lost a disappointing game to the fourth-seeded Wasilla Warriors on Friday night at the Soldotna Sports Center in the North Star Conference tournament.
The final score was 5-2, but Kenai was tied with Wasilla halfway through the second period, before senior Chancie Hanson scored with 51 seconds remaining in the period, his second goal of the game.
Freshman Colton Fletcher also had two goals.
“We’ve been on the rise the second half of this season, and there’s a lot of good things happening,” Wasilla head coach Bill Sturdevant said. “The first half of the season put us behind a bit, and that’s why we were seeded fourth, so we have a long road ahead of us.”
Wasilla scored 1 minute, 55 seconds, into the game with an assist by Fletcher to Hanson to take an early lead. However, Kenai tied it up 6:42 into the second period with a shot by Zack Mese, who was assisted by Zach Zulkanycz and Jake Eubank.
“There were plays I thought we were being too cute with the puck, taking unnecessary chances, and it cost us when they scored,” Sturdevant said.
Kenai head coach Pete Iverson praised his team’s effort, but said Wasilla is a tough team that was able to take advantage of mistakes.
“Overall I think the team played well, but they got more goals than we did, plain and simple,” Iverson said. “They capitalized on some things, and that cost us.”
Kenai goaltender Keegan Remsen saved 37 of 42 shots, while Wasilla goalie Lauren Massie saved 16 of 18 shots.
Sturdevant said there are ways Wasilla can capitalize on other teams’ mistakes to win games.
“Our team has a lot of speed, and I want to use that to our advantage, as far as chasing down pucks, and backchecking, which I thought we did well,” he said.
Sturdevant said the leadership Hanson has shown has gone a long way in advancing the team.
“He played great tonight, but now we need to go back to the hotel and get some rest, stay hydrated tonight, because with the way the tournament has been restructured, it puts us at a little bit of a disadvantage, but that’s our fault because we were seeded fourth due to the way we played early in the season,” he said.
“We have to stick to our game plan, and play the same way we’ve been playing,” Sturdevant said.
Wasilla will play the top-seeded Soldotna Stars on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. to determine who will advance to the final game at 7:30 p.m.
Warriors 5, Kardinals 2
Wasilla 1 1 3 —5
Kenai 0 1 1 —2
First period — 1. Wasilla, Hanson (Fletcher) 1:55. Penalties — Wasilla 2 for 4:00, Kenai 2 for 4:00.
Second period — 2. Kenai, Mese (Zulkanycz, Eubank) 6:42. 3. Wasilla, Hanson (Fletcher, Hanson) 14:09. Penalties — Wasilla 1 for 2:00, Kenai 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 4. Wasilla, Fletcher (Hanson, Harren) 2:34. 5. Wasilla, Fletcher 2:49. 6. Kenai, Zulkanycz (Mcdermott-Johnston) 4:44. 7. Wasilla, Hanson (McRee, Fletcher) 7:45. Penalties — Wasilla 2 for 4:00, Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Wasilla 14-17-11—42; Kenai 7-4-7—18.
Goalies — Wasilla, Massie (18 shots-16 saves); Kenai, Remsen (42 shots-37 saves).