The fourth-seeded Homer Mariners took a 5-0 victory against fifth-seeded Kenai Central in Thursday’s opening round in the North Star Conference hockey tournament at the Menard Sports Arena in Wasilla.
Homer’s Tommy Bowe notched a hat trick to lead the Mariners, and goalie Alex Sanarov had the shutout for Homer with 26 shots saved.
“We felt like playing three lines were better, and we had better legs after two periods,” Homer coach Buck Laukitis said. “We played well in the neutral zone, and made some adjustments.”
The game was also Sanarov’s second shutout in the last three games for Homer.
“We’re always thankful for him,” Laukitis said. “This is a good team defense, all our defensemen were playing like a team and picking each other up when the other makes a mistake.”
The game was scoreless after one period, but it would not stay that way for long.
Bowe had the first netter of the night just 2 minutes, 1 second, into the second period on a power play, and teammate Kiril Sanarov notched a second goal at the four-minute mark.
Kenai coach Pete Iverson said he felt the effort level of his team was there, but, like most of the season, opportunities were wasted.
“We had plenty of opportunities to score, but just weren’t capitalizing,” Iverson said. “Justin Alvey in net played an outstanding game.”
Alvey recorded 34 saves on 39 shots. Iverson also recognized the efforts of Nathan Zorbas, Hydn Johnston, Andrew Hamilton and TJ Wagoner.
“We struggled with a consistent game. We need to show more consistency,” Iverson said. “The biggest thing was scoring when we had the chances in their zone, the power plays, and that’s something we have to work on. Luckily we have a lot of freshmen on this team and so next year they’ll be a little more experienced.”
In the third period, Anton Kuzmin notched a Homer goal to increase the lead to 3-0, and Bowe put in two more for good measure, including the last one with 6.9 seconds to play, but it was the Mariners defense that had Laukitis satisfied.
“If you have a good goaltender, that brings up the level of your defense,” Laukitis said. “Dennis (Sanarov) is a leader and the others are inspired by him. You get some guys scoring, and it’s a good feeling for the others.”
Homer outshot Kenai 39-26 overall.
Homer advances in the tournament to play Wasilla on Friday at 5 p.m. The winner of that game advances to the region championship game at 5 p.m. on Saturday, and receives a state berth. Homer has never earned a state berth before.
In other games, Palmer defeated Colony 4-2, which means the sixth-seeded Moose will advance to Friday’s game against the Soldotna Stars at 7:15 p.m.
Homer 5, Kenai 0
Thursday, Menard Arena
First period — no scoring.
Second period — 1. Homer, Bowe (K. Reutov, Roberts) pp 12:59; 2. Homer, K. Sanarov (K. Reutov) 11:00.
Third period — 3. Homer, A. Kuzmin (K. Reutov, N. Matveev) 8:20; 4. Homer, Bowe (de Creeft) 5:31; 5. Homer, Bowe (unassisted) :06.9.
Shots on goal: Homer 15-9-15—39, Kenai 9-8-9—26; Saves: Homer, A. Saranov 9-8-9—26; Kenai, Alvey 15-7-12—34.