WASILLA — The Wasilla Warriors hit the ice for their first game in eight days Thursday. It marked Wasilla’s longest break, so far, during the 2012-13 season, and it came at a pretty good time.
Aided by the extra rest, Wasilla enjoyed a quick started with two goals during the opening four minutes of regulation and held on for a 3-2 North Star Conference victory over the Soldotna Stars Thursday at the Brett Memorial Ice Arena in Wasilla.
“It was definitely positive for us,” Wasilla head coach Bill Sturdevant said of the break for the Warriors, which came before a stretch that includes three conference games in as many days. “We were able to work on some things, get some intensity back in practice. Any time you get that much time to work on things, it helps. I think it showed tonight.”
Troy Verplanke and Brett Keene stuck for the Warriors during a 1 minute and 43 second stretch of the first four minutes of play.
Soldotna head coach Aaron Swanson said he felt that was certainly the difference in the game.
“They came out pretty hard, and we came out pretty flat,” Swanson said.
Verplanke knocked in the rebound of Blake Carricaburu’s shot from the point to give the Warriors the early advantage. Less than two minutes later, Keene took a long pass at the SoHi blue line, slipped away from the Stars defense and buried the breakaway goal to stretch Wasilla’s lead to a pair of goals.
“It was a beautiful pass, and he got that opportunity,” Sturdevant said of Keene. “That’s something he’s worked on over the years, catching those long passes. He likes going on the break. He’s put in a lot of work catching those passes and being strong on the stick. He was able to cash it.”
Soldotna’s Jarrett Urban, who bagged both of SoHi’s goals, cut Wasilla’s lead in half, halfway through the period.
As Soldotna skated on the power play, Kenny Griffen threw a puck on net from the point. Urban stood strong in front of the Wasilla goal, and knocked a puck in.
“I think we came out ready to play in the first five minutes, but I felt like we kind of backed off a little bit after we got that 2-0 lead,” Sturdevant said. “We took some unnecessary penalties and let Soldotna kind of creep back in.”
Swanson said it was a different game after that early chunk of the first period, but Wasilla had done its damage.
“We kind of jumped back in it, and it was back and forth after that,” Swanson said. “If we came out and matched their intensity in the first period, the first half of that first period, and kept them off the board, it could have easily gone our way. It’s tough to say. Credit to them.”
Cooper Hanson scored on the power-play midway through the second period to give the Warriors the 3-1 lead. Hanson’s tally, a hard-angle shot from the bottom of the left wing circle, turned about to be a big insurance goal for the Warriors. Urban scored again with 36 seconds left in the period.
“Cooper’s power-play goal, that was big for us,” Sturdevant said.
Soldotna continues its three-day road trip through the Valley with a match against Palmer tonight at 7 p.m. at the MTA Events Center. Wasilla hosts Kenai tonight at the Brett in Wasilla.
Wasilla 3, Soldotna 2
Thursday, Brett Arena
First period — 1. Wasilla- Verplanke (Carricaburu, Apangalook) 12:56; 2. Wasilla- Keene (Reeves, Hanson) 11:13; 3. Soldotna- Urban (Griffen) pp 8:25.
Second period — 4. Wasilla- Hanson (Harren, Cook) pp 5:13; 5. Soldotna- Urban (unassisted) 0:36.
Third period — no scoring.
Shots on goal: Soldotna 7-10-4-21, Wasilla 9-5-4—18; Saves: Soldotna- Harvey 7-4-4—15, Wasilla- Massie 6-9-4—19.
PALMER 4, HOMER 2
Jacob Inekai tallied a hat trick to help the Moose to a win over Homer on Thursday evening in Palmer. Inekai scored twice in the first period to put Palmer up 2-0 after one period, then scored again in the third period, all assisted by Hayden Moistner, who in turn scored one in the third period on an assist from Inekai.
Tommy Bowe scored a goal in the second period, assisted by Kiril Sanarov and Carson Duggar, to draw closer to Palmer, but it was ultimately futile. Sanarov had Homer’s other goal, in the third frame, with assists from Anton Kuznin and Dennis Sanarov.
“They were skating on concrete in the first period,” Homer coach Buck Laukitis said. “We outshot them 14-7 in the second period, but fell off again after that.”
Inukai scored less than three minutes into play to give his team the early lead, and added his second goal midway through the first period. He completed his hat trick just 27 seconds into the third period.
Palmer, which outshot the Mariners 32-23, hosts Soldotna tonight at 7 p.m. at the MTA Events Center, while Homer will play Colony, a team that shut out Kenai 11-0 on Thursday night. Homer now stands with a 7-4 season record.
Palmer 4, Homer 2
Thursday, MTA Events Center
First period — 1. Palmer- Inukai (unassisted) 12:31; 2. Palmer- Inukai (Moistner, Wright) 7:16.
Second period — 3. Homer- Bowe (Sanarov, Duggar) 5:33.
Third period — 4. Palmer- Inukai (Moistner, Dreyer) 14:33; 5. Palmer- Moistner (Inukai, Dreyer) 12:00; 6. Homer- Sanarov (Kuzmin, Sanarov) 8:31.
Shots on goal: Homer 5-14-4—23, Palmer 12-7-13—32; Saves: Homer- 10-7-11—28, Palmer- Good 5-13-3—21.
COLONY 11, KENAI 0
WASILLA — Colony netted six goals in the third period and cruised to an 11-0 win over the Kenai Kardinals at the Menard Arena in Wasilla.
Morgan McJimsey scored four of Colony’s 11 goals, and teammate Jonathan Boyer netted a hat trick. Also, Curtis Foster had two goals.
“We played well in the first period, then we just kind of self-destructed in the the final two periods,” Kenai coach Pete Iverson said. “They kept good, steady pressure on us the whole game, and we just need to figure it out for the last two periods. We ran out of steam a little bit, and started making mistakes.”
The Kards held the Knights scoreless until 22 seconds left in the first period, then McJimsey added a second goal to Colony’s lead only 12 seconds into the second period, and the landrush was on from there.
The Kards will continue on to play the Wasilla Warriors tonight at 7 p.m.
Knights 11, Kardinals 0
Colony 1 4 6 —11
Kenai 0 0 0 —0