The Soldotna hockey team jumped out to a 4-0 lead on Thursday in picking up an 8-4 North Star Conference victory over Kenai Central at the Soldotna Sports Center.
Dalton Pearson had a hat trick, Jacob O’Lena had three assists and a goal, and Nick Wrobel had two goals and an assist to lead the Stars to victory.
Pearson scored twice in the first period, and O’Lena added another tally, as the Stars led 3-0 after 15 minutes.
“We got off to a nice start, and that was one of the keys for us going in,” said Soldotna coach Aaron Swanson after improving to 3-1-1 in the league and 8-4-1 overall. “We’ve struggled with our starts the last few games.”
Kenai coach Pete Iverson, whose team is now 1-4 in the league, said some defensive breakdowns in the first period cost his team.
“For the most part, they beat our D and it was just one on the goalie,” Iverson said.
The Kards did a better job slowing the SoHi attack in the second period, and Wrobel scored unassisted with 2:23 left in the period for a 4-1 lead.
Riley Weber answered for Kenai with his first varsity goal with 1:12 left in the second.
“That was a rallying point for us,” Iverson said. “After that goal, we started playing better as a team.”
The scoring picked up in the third period. Wrobel, Stephen Endsley, Hunter Lott and Pearson scored for the Stars. For Kenai, Jake Eubank had two goals, TJ Wagoner had a goal and two assists, and Nathan Zorbas had two assists.
“It was a lot more back-and-forth game,” Iverson said. “In the third, we were answering when they were attacking.”
Swanson said the line of Wrobel, Pearson and Shayne Miller was tough, at times.
“When they were out there moving the puck, they had some good shifts,” Swanson said. “When they weren’t passing was when they were noneffective.”
The coach said O’Lena had a great game, getting four points from his defenseman position.
Nate O’Lena had 20 saves in picking up the win for SoHi. Justin Alvey and Ben Mills combined to make 27 saves for the Kards.
“I’m starting to see the kids play with more individual skill, and they are starting to play more team-minded hockey,” Iverson said. “I think we’re on a slow, steady upward trend.”
Stars 8, Kardinals 4
Kenai 0 1 3 —4
Soldotna 3 1 4 —8
First period — 1. Soldotna, Pearson (S. Miller), 3:46; 2. Soldotna, Pearson (J. O’Lena), 6:07; 3. Soldotna, J. O’Lena (Urban), 8:27. Penalties — Kenai 3 for 6:00; Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 4. Soldotna, Wrobel (un.), 12:37; 5. Kenai, Weber (Dosko, Olson), 13:48. Penalties — Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 6. Soldotna, Wrobel (J. O’Lena), 2:45; 7. Soldotna, Endsley (J. Miller, Granger), 3:00; 8. Soldotna, Lott (J. O’Lena, Schoessler), 4:02; 9. Kenai, Eubank (Zorbas, Wagoner), 4:46; 10. Kenai, Eubank (Zorbas, Wagoner), 8:57; 11. Kenai, Wagoner (un.), 10:54; 12. Soldotna, Pearson (Wrobel), 11:54. Penalties — Kenai 1 for 2:00; Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai 4-12-8—24; Soldotna 14-6-15—35.
Goalies — Kenai, Alvey (22 shots, 17 saves), Mills (13 shots, 10 saves); Soldotna, N. O’Lena (24 shots, 20 saves).