One day in, out of the running.
That’s how it went for the Soldotna Stars hockey team on Thursday in the ASAA First National Cup state championships at the Curtis Menard Sports Complex in Wasilla, where they lost 3-2 to the Service Cougars.
The loss meant that Soldotna is out of the running for the state championship. The Stars still have a shot at grabbing fourth-place honors.
In Thursday’s game, SoHi was outmatched if judged by the shots taken — Service had 22 shots on goal, while SoHi had five. However, two of those resulted in goals, both coming at the stick of Nick Wrobel.
“Nick obviously played a great game, and it was a team effort,” said SoHi coach Aaron Swanson. “We just gave (Service) opportunities in the second period, especially on the power play, and unfortunately took some penalties, and it put us in a hole.
“They moved the puck really well and we couldn’t do much.”
After a scoreless first period, Service came out attacking in the second, getting three goals on ten shots and holding Soldotna to zero opportunities.
With a 3-0 lead going into the third period, Service decided to pull goalie Dustin Fritz in favor of freshman goalie Takoda Castillo. It proved to be costly, as SoHi mounted a comeback when Jonas Perletti won the race to the puck, centering the pass from behind the net, and Wrobel took the shot and scored from between the circles with 11 minutes, 37 seconds, remaining. The goal came on only the fourth shot of the game for SoHi.
Two and a half minutes later, Shayne Miller skated through the right wing circle, slipped a pass across the crease, and Wrobel scored with a backdoor shot, giving SoHi new hope for a comeback with nine minutes to go.
“We knew it was a long shot to try and come back, but that’s what we talked about,” Swanson said. “We tried to create opportunities and play our way back into the game and try to play within our game plan.”
After the second Soldotna goal, Service put Fritz back in the game, and the score stayed the same until the buzzer sounded, even though Swanson pulled goalie Cody Harvey in favor of an extra attacker. Harvey ended with 19 saves on 22 shots.
Even with the loss, Swanson was satisfied with the effort his team put together.
“Both the goals we had were from hard work and effort, and all the guys did good going after loose pucks and stuff,” he said. “Tomorrow will be another good matchup, and we knew that coming in, so we just need to play strong defense and hopefully create more offensive opportunities.”
Just like the SoHi girls basketball team a day before, the SoHi hockey team will be playing West Valley on Friday at 8 a.m., a team that lost to Dimond 7-1 in its first-round game on Thursday. The team that wins that game will play in the state tournament fourth-place game on Saturday. The loser is eliminated.
In other games, South topped Lathrop 3-0 and West defeated Wasilla 1-0.
Service 3, Soldotna 2
First period — no scoring.
Second period — 1. Service, Graff (Cummings, Georgione) pp 7:34; 2. Service, Karcz (unassisted) 6:42; 3. Service, Frisk (Braudaf, Graff) 2:47.
Third period — 4. Soldotna, Wrobel (Perletti) 11:37; 5. Soldotna, Wrobel (S. Miller, J. O’Lena) 9:05.
Shots on goal: Service 8-10-4—22, Soldotna 3-0-2—5; Saves: Service- Fritz 3-0-0—3, Castillo x-x-0—0; Soldotna, Harvey 8-7-4—19.