Cody Harvey made 31 saves as Soldotna knocked off Wasilla 3-0 on Saturday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in North Star Conference action.
The Stars moved to 5-4 overall and 2-1 in the league, while Wasilla fell to 3-1 in the league.
All the games of the weekend were moved to Friday and Saturday after poor road conditions canceled Thursday’s games.
Also after the weekend, Kenai stands at 2-1 in the league, Homer is at 0-1-1, Colony is at 1-2 and Palmer is 0-2-1.
Homer and Colony did not play this weekend, but will face off in a Houston tournament and count the game toward the conference standings.
“We felt like we played a solid game,” Soldotna coach Aaron Swanson said after the victory over Wasilla. “We stayed within our systems pretty well.”
Swanson said the game did not have much flow due to the number of penalties. Wasilla had 13 penalties, while Soldotna had six.
Kenny Griffin gave the Stars a 1-0 lead in the first period, assisted by Race Rusk and Jacob O’Lena. In the third, Griffin scored unassisted and Nick Wrobel scored unassisted.
Wyatt Monear had 11 saves for the Warriors.
Wasilla 6, Kenai 1
The Warriors rolled past the Kardinals on Saturday in the late game.
Wasilla took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Cooper Hanson and Adam Apangalook.
In the second period, TJ Wagoner cut the gap to 2-1, assisted by Ross Hanson and Jake Eubank.
But Luke Schruf, Austin Cook and Andrew Cooley scored before the end of the second period as Wasilla took control.
Apangalook finished off the scoring in the third period.
Monear had 16 saves for Wasilla, while Justin Alvey had 30 saves for the Kards.
Soldotna 3, Palmer 2, OT
Wrobel said the theme in the locker room for this one was, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t want to work hard.”
Playing Friday night after just a hour and a half break after Friday afternoon’s 2-1 loss to Colony, the Stars put in the effort necessary to pull out an overtime victory.
“They’re tired, but it’s a well-deserved tired,” Swanson said.
After a scoreless first period, Soldotna’s Craig Lott was given a five-minute major for checking from behind with 5 minutes, 41 seconds, left in the second period.
Just 1:55 into the power play, Cole Clements scored from the faceoff circle, assisted by Matthew Bembenek and Chris Dojka.
But the Stars were able to kill off the rest of the power play and remain down by just a goal.
“It all kind of started with that five-minute major,” Swanson said. “They scored early, but we were able to kill off the rest of that penalty and gained momentum.”
With 1:57 left in the second, Wrobel used considerable wizardry to go from end to end and score, but the goal did not count because Wrobel had used a high stick to bring down the puck in the Stars’ defensive zone. The referee blew the whistle, but it was not heard.
With just one second left in the second period, Wrobel wove through the defense and tied the game.
“I had no idea what was on the board at that point,” he said of the time left. “I was just trying to get to goal and score.”
Just 24 seconds into the third period, Wrobel was at it again. Ty Fenton found him with a centering pass, and Wrobel one-timed it home.
“Those guys have been playing awhile within the system,” Swanson said. “They know what we’re trying to accomplish and they set a great example for the younger guys.”
But Palmer, which also already had a game under its belt Friday, plus a five-hour bus ride, did not quit. With 8:27 left in the game, Valary Dietz centered the puck from the corner. Cody Farwell, sitting in front of goal, let the puck through to Josh Meyers on the far post for a goal.
“I thought Josh Meyers had a really good game,” Palmer coach Eric Troisi said.
The teams went to overtime, where the Stars spent the first 1:51 on the penalty kill. Harvey had to make four saves during the kill, but Troisi would have preferred the shots came from closer.
“Harvey is good game in and game out,” Swanson said. “We can count on him for leadership.
“In my opinion, he is the best goalie in the conference.”
With 4:08 left in the eight-minute overtime, Palmer took a penalty. The Moose took another with 3:15 left, leaving the Stars with 1:07 of five-on-three hockey.
Swanson called time out, but not so much for strategy.
“We were tired,” he said. “We needed a break.”
With 2:17 left in OT, Wrobel got a pass from Griffin and knifed through the defense before dumping the puck to Fenton for the game-winner.
Wrobel logged a lot of ice time late in the game looking for the game-winner, but he was happy to set up his teammate.
“I told my teammate I would set him up, and I did,” he said.
Harvey made 19 saves, while Austin McCain had 28 for Palmer. Troisi said McCain had a great game.
Colony 2, Soldotna 1
Friday afternoon, Logan Sanders scored with just 42 seconds remaining to give the Knights a comeback victory.
The Stars had taken the lead with 6:57 left in the second period, when Wrobel scored on an assist from Griffin.
Colony started its comeback with 5:14 left in the game, when Jake Elwell scored on an assist from Mark Thygeson.
Colton Beebe had 12 saves for Colony, while Harvey made 23 for the Stars.
Swanson was not happy with his team’s effort in the game. He said the Stars are young, and learning what happens when the effort lags.
“The goals we gave up were flat giveaways and they capitalized on them,” Swanson said.
Kenai 3, Colony 2
The wheeling and dealing Kardinals hung on for a victory against the Knights on Friday night.
Kenai’s style can best be summed up by a series of plays goalie Nate O’Lena made against the Knights. One minute, he was falling down trying to play a puck behind the net. Seconds later, he made a dazzling kick save.
In a similar vein, the Kards can make mind-boggling giveaways in the defensive zone one minute, and equally mind-boggling maneuvers on the attack the next.
The result is an end-to-end brand of hockey that elicits both groans and oohs from the crowd.
“They create that type of game a little bit,” Colony coach Jaime Smith said. “Our bench is teaching our young guys that they have to work hard all the time and make sure they get from end to end in a game like that.”
Both teams had already played a game Friday when they faced off at 8:15 p.m. The first period was very back-and-forth, when the teams were freshest.
Just 2:47 into the game, Kenai defenseman Michael Tilly rushed up the right side and put a shot on Colony’s Beebe. Cody Arbelovsky was there for the rebound goal and Isaac Mese also had an assist on the play.
With 9:21 left in the first, Isaac Vincent skated around the back of the net and found Colton Slack out front to tie it at 1 for the Knights.
Kenai had a goal disallowed with 3:22 left because the referee blew the whistle after losing sight of the puck, then with 2:01 left in the first, Colony’s Gunnar Stadem cut loose a shot from the blue line and scored when O’Lena was shielded by a Colony attacker.
Just 1:25 into the second, Eubank, on assists from Wagoner and Dalton Dosko, tied the game with a wrister from the slot.
In the middle of the second, penalties set up 1:24 to four-on-four hockey.
“I felt pretty comfortable,” Kenai coach Pete Iverson said. “We have the guys that like to play that style of hockey.”
Just 23 seconds into the four-on-four session, Mese scored the eventual game-winner on a breakaway.
Despite the victory, Iverson said the game should serve as a warning to his team. The Kards were outshot 30-21.
“We have to put more pucks on the net after our attacks,” Iverson said. “They’re waiting for that one perfect shot which looks pretty, but they have to be willing to get the puck to the net and score dirty goals.”
Iverson said the main reason the Kards prevailed was the work of O’Lena, who had 28 saves. His best moment came when he stopped Cole Bloemer on a breakaway at the 11:56 mark of the second.
“We’re only able to win a game like this because of his goaltending,” Iverson said.
Smith has a young squad with 10 freshmen and sophomores. He was very happy with his defense and goaltending allowing just 21 shots.
“That’s not easy to do against a team like Kenai,” Smith said.
Smith also credited Kenai with holding on for the win despite playing just two lines. Colony used three or four lines all day to save its top two lines for crucial moments.
Colony did lose two players to possible concussions during the game. Smith said he was disappointed the Kardinals didn’t get more penalties for raising their elbows on open-ice hits, since reducing concussions is an emphasis in high school hockey.
Kenai 7, Palmer 1
After a five-hour bus ride, the Moose had just five minutes to get on the ice after arriving at the sports complex.
Palmer promptly fell behind 4-0 after the first period.
“We’re not making excuses,” Troisi said. “Kenai has good players and they’re a well-coached team.”
Eubank had a huge game for Kenai, notching three goals and two assists. Defenseman Conner Johnson had a goal and two assists, while TJ Wagoner had a pair of tallies.
Also for the Kardinals, Hanson had a goal and an assist, Arbelovsky had an assist, Tilly had a pair of assists, and Caleb Caldwell, Baxter Cox and Nathan Zorbas had assists.
Palmer’s lone goal came in the third period. Dojka scored, assisted by Meyers and Clements.
Cody Grogan had 33 saves for Palmer, while Justin Alvey had five saves and O’Lena added nine saves for the Kards.
Wasilla 6, Homer 1
The Warriors came on strong in the third period to top the Mariners at Kevin Bell Arena in Homer on Friday.
Wasilla had the first goal of the game, but Kiril Sanarov tied the game for the Mariners with an unassisted goal.
A 2-1 game headed into the third period became a comfortable victory thanks to a strong finish from the Warriors on Saturday.
The Warriors took a 1-0 lead in the first when Tanner Schachle scored, then went up 2-0 when Cooper Hanson had the first of his three goals. However, Kiril Sanarov scored just nine seconds later to cut the game to 2-1.
Hanson had two unassisted goals in the third period, while Luke Schruf had two goals and Schachle added his second goal of the game.
Homer 3, Palmer 3
The Moose came back from a 3-0 deficit to get a tie Saturday at the Kevin Bell Arena in Homer.
Dawson Roberts had the first goal for the Mariners. Tommy Bowe then scored twice for Homer, once on an assist from Ulian Kuzmin.
Knights 2, Stars 1
Colony 0 0 1 —2
Soldotna 1 0 0 —1
First period — 1. Soldotna, Wrobel (Griffin), 8:03. Penalties — none.
Second period — none. Penalties — Colony 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 2. Colony, Elwell (Thygeson), 9:46; 3. Colony, Sanders (Symbol), 14:18. Penalties — Colony 1 for 2:00; Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Colony 8-5-12—25; Soldotna 6-3-4—13.
Goalies — Colony, Beebe (13 shots, 12 saves); Soldotna, Harvey (25 shots, 23 saves).
Kardinals 7, Moose 1
Palmer 0 0 1 —1
Kenai 4 1 2 —7
First period — 1. Kenai, Wagoner (Hanson, Tilly), 9:34; 2. Kenai, Eubank (Caldwell, Johnson), 9:59; 3. Kenai, Johnson (Eubank, Cox), 13:11; 4. Kenai, Eubank (un.), 14:45. Penalties — Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 5. Kenai, Eubank (Zorbas), 1:05. Penalties — Kenai 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 6. Kenai, Hanson (Arbelovsky, Johnson), 0:52; 7. Palmer, Dojka (Meyers, Clements), 3:04; 8. Kenai, Wagoner (Eubank, Tilly), 11:51. Penalties — Palmer 1 for 2:00; Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Palmer 2-7-6—15; Kenai 15-9-16—40.
Goalies — Palmer, Grogan (40 shots, 33 saves); Kenai, Alvey (5 shots, 5 saves); O’Lena (10 shots, 9 saves).
Kardinals 3, Knights 2
Colony 2 0 0 —2
Kenai 1 2 0 —3
First period — 1. Kenai, Arbelovsky (Tilly, Mese), 2:47; 2. Colony, Slack (Vincent, Foster), 5:39; 3. Colony, Stadem (Kolendo, Symbol), 12:59. Penalties — none.
Second period — 4. Kenai, Eubank (Wagoner, Dosko), 1:25; 5. Kenai, Mese (Hanson, Tilly), 6:31. Penalties — Colony 1 for 2:00; Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Third period — none. Penalties — Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Colony 13-10-7—28; Kenai 5-7-9—21.
Goalies — Colony, Beebe (21 shots, 18 saves); Kenai, O’Lena (30 shots, 28 saves).
Stars 3, Moose 2, OT
Palmer 0 1 1 0 —2
Soldotna 0 1 1 1 —3
First period — none. Penalties — Colony 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 1. Palmer, Clements (Bembenek, Dojka), 11:14; 2. Soldotna, Wrobel (Fenton, Miller), 14:59. Penalties — Palmer 1 for 2:00; Soldotna 2 for 15:00.
Third period — 3. Soldotna, Wrobel (Fenton, O’Lena), 0:24; 4. Palmer, Meyers (Farwell, Dietz), 6:33. Penalties — Palmer 1 for 2:00; Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Overtime — 5. Soldotna, Fenton (Wrobel, Griffin), 5:43. Penalties — Palmer 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal — Palmer 5-7-5-4—21; Soldotna 11-8-8-4—31.
Goalies — Palmer, McCain (31 shots, 28 saves); Soldotna, Harvey (21 shots, 19 saves).
Warriors 7, Stars 1
Wasilla 1 1 5 —7
Homer 0 1 0 —1
First period — 1. Wasilla, Schachle (Hanson), 13:39. Penalties — Wasilla 5 for 10:00; Homer 3 for 6:00.
Second period — 2. Wasilla, Hanson (un.), 8:47; 3. Homer, Sanarov (un.), 8:56. Penalties — Wasilla 3 for 6:00; Homer 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 4. Wasilla, Hanson (un.), 1:24; 5. Wasilla, Hanson (un.), 1:42; 6. Wasilla, Schachle (Carricaburu), 3:29; 7. Wasilla, Schruf (Apangalook, Verplancke), 10:41; 8. Schruf (Conroy, Strick), 14:50. Penalties — Soldotna 4 for 8:00.
Shots on goal — Wasilla 10-9-15—34; Homer 4-2-2—8.
Goalies — Wasilla, Monear (8 shots, 7 saves); Homer, Polushkin (19 shots, 18 saves); No. 1 (15 shots, 10 saves).
Warriors 7, Kardinals 1
Wasilla 2 3 1 —6
Kenai 0 1 0 —1
First period — 1. Wasilla, Hanson (Reeves, Conroy), 4:01; 2. Wasilla, Apangalook (Hanson), 8:48. Penalties — Wasilla 2 for 4:00; Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 3. Kenai, Wagoner (Hanson, Eubank), 6:30; 4. Wasilla, Schruf (Apangalook), 9:26; 5. Wasilla, Cook (Hanson, Schruf), 13:06; 6. Cooley (Reeves), 14:27. Penalties — Wasilla 3 for 6:00.
Third period — 7. Wasilla, Apangalook (Conroy, Strick), 7:46. Penalties — Wasilla 1 for 2:00; Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Wasilla 11-20-5—36; Kenai 5-6-6—17.
Goalies — Wasilla, Monear (17 shots, 16 saves); Kenai, Alvey (36 shots, 30 saves).
Stars 3, Warriors 0
Wasilla 0 0 0 —0
Soldotna 1 0 2 —3
First period — 1. Soldotna, Griffin (Rusk, O’Lena), 11:38. Penalties — Wasilla 4 for 16:00; Soldotna 3 for 6:00.
Second period — none. Penalties — Wasilla 3 for 14:00.
Third period — 2. Soldotna, Griffin (un.), 8:38; 3. Soldotna, Wrobel (un.), 9:56. Penalties — Wasilla 6 for 31:00.
Shots on goal — Wasilla 12-11-8—31; Soldotna 5-1-8—14.
Goalies — Wasilla, Monear (14 shots, 11 saves); Soldotna, Harvey (31 shots, 31 saves).