The Soldotna hockey team opened its season with a 4-1 win over the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears on Thursday night at the Soldotna Sports Center. The game also kicked off the first day of the Peninsula Ice Challenge tournament.
Soldotna received two first-period goals from Dalton Pearson, including one only 35 seconds into the game, but suffered at the hands of a Juneau 5-on-3 power play, when Dalton L’Allier slipped the puck in, tying the game up.
Pearson gave Soldotna the lead back with a late first-period goal, and Jonas Perletti slipped in the insurance goal four and a half minutes into the second period.
Soldotna controlled the puck, taking 39 shots on goal compared to 20 for Juneau. SoHi goalie Cody Harvey stopped 19 of 20 shots on the other end of the rink.
“It’s the first game of the year for us, so we expected mistakes and that’s what we saw, but at the same time, we’re also looking for a good effort,” Soldotna head coach Aaron Swanson said. “For the most part we had a good effort, and we had our ups and downs, especially in the middle of the first period, but we were telling the kids to keep the intensity up all the way through.”
A mad scramble at SoHi’s net midway through the third period resulted in a brief scuffle and a power play for Soldotna. Soon after, Soldotna’s Shayne Miller scored an extra insurance goal on a long shot that went untouched to the net.
“The biggest thing for us was getting the lines going,” Swanson said. “We had a lot of pressure at the net, and outshot them, and the ones we had were of better quality.”
Juneau head coach David McKenna said the Crimson Bears did not get enough shots, which was due to messy play from Juneau.
Swanson, meanwhile, is confident in the progress the Stars are making.
“We have a lot of guys coming back, but we also had a lot of younger guys playing and getting used to the system,” Swanson said. “It’s a matter of getting everything clicking together.”
Soldotna will face up against the North Pole Patriots today at 2 p.m. at the SSC.
NORTH POLE 3, KENAI 2
North Pole sophomore Jason Donald scored a hat trick to lift the Patriots to a 3-2 win over the Kards on Thursday night at the Soldotna Sports Center. Two of Donald’s goals were on shorthanded possessions and were unassisted.
“I think he finished with four goals last season, and here he is with three already in this game, so it was quite an effort today,” North Pole coach Stuart Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman said the Patriots are coming off a 2-20 season a year ago, and have 10 freshman on the team this year.
Kenai scored five minutes into the second period amid a tense flurry of shots in front of North Pole’s net, with Jake Eubank getting the goal.
Donald then scored twice in a 2:06 span, including a nifty hook shot, to fatten the Patriots’ lead.
Trailing 3-1 heading into the final period, Kenai needed something to happen for them, and got a chance when Dalton Dosko bounced the puck into North Pole’s net halfway through the period. Kenai pulled goalie Ben Mills with two minutes left, but got nothing out of it after a few close moments that almost resulted in a score for the Kards. After being outshot by North Pole in the first period, Kenai turned the tables by outshooting the Patriots 14-3 in the third.
“They kept playing and fought all the way to the end, and had a lot of scoring opportunities, but it just didn’t go in,” Kenai head coach Pete Iverson said. “I told them to shoot the puck, that’s all. I was excited the last couple minutes. We lost possession a couple times on our end but were able to regain it, and get a shot on net. We just need to put that puck in, that’s all.”
Iverson acknowledged that Kenai did improve on some things after a 5-3 loss to Homer on Tuesday night.
“This was a better game for us than the Homer game,” Iverson said. “We had five or six freshman out there, and it’s an opportunity to try things out.”
Kenai will play the Juneau Crimson Bears today at 4:15 p.m. at the SSC.
HOMER 5, JUNEAU 3
Kiril Sanarov and Tommy Bowe each notched two goals to help Homer to a 5-3 win on Wednesday night in Homer over the visiting Juneau Crimson Bears.
Homer was trailing 3-2 at one point in the second period, but came back to tie it up heading into the final frame.
“(Juneau) called out timeout, we talked about and said let’s go for it,” Homer coach Buck Laukitis said.
Homer rallied to score two goals in the third period, including the insurance goal from Clem Tillion, to win the contest.
Stars 4, Crimson Bears 1
Soldotna 2 1 1 —4
Juneau 1 0 0 —1
1st period — 1. Soldotna, Pearson (Perletti), :35; 2. Juneau, L’Allier (unassisted), 5:48, pp; 3. Soldotna, Pearson (Griffin, Perletti), 13:40. Penalties — Soldotna 3 for 6:00.
2nd period — 4. Soldotna, Perletti (Urban, Pearson), 4:36. Penalties — Soldotna 2 for 4:00; Juneau 2 for 4:00.
3rd period — 5. Soldotna, Miller (Fenton, Wrobel), 9:29; Penalties — Soldotna 4 for 8:00; Juneau 6 for 12:00.
Goalies — Soldotna, Harvey (20 shots, 19 saves); Juneau, Pritchard (39 shots, 35 saves).
Shots on goal — Soldotna 13-11-15—39; Juneau 6-8-6—20.
Patriots 3, Kardinals 2
Kenai 0 1 1 —2
North Pole 1 2 0 —3
1st period — 1. North Pole, Donald (Linnell), shorthanded, :16. Penalties — Kenai 4 for 16:00; North Pole 2 for 4:00.
2nd period — 2. Kenai, Eubank (Zorbas, Tilly), 5:01; 3. North Pole, Donald (unassisted), 11:23; 4. North Pole, Donald (unassisted), shorthanded, 13:29. Penalties — Kenai 1 for 2:00; North Pole 3 for 6:00.
3rd period — 5. Kenai, Dosko (Weber), 7:30. Penalties — North Pole 2 for 4:00.
Goalies — Kenai, Mills (24 shots, 21 saves); North Pole, A. Heineken (29 shots, 27 saves).
Shots on goal — Kenai 5-10-14—29; North Pole 12-9-3—24.