Soldotna got within 40 seconds of taking the West Anchorage hockey squad to overtime on Friday night, but a late goal by the Eagles proved to be the gamewinning shot in a 2-1 victory at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
West co-captain Garen Teders scored the game winner with 39.9 seconds remaining to break a 1-1 tie, and West held off the Stars from there in a non-conference tilt.
On a day when Anchorage opponent Bartlett could not make the trip down to the Kenai Peninsula for a game with Kenai Central, West coach Nathan Shasby said he was pleased with the effort his team had on a road game.
"It wasn't much to say there, I thought we had pretty good control of the momentum," Shasby said. "The first period was a little rough, we were right off the bus. But the second and third periods we played pretty well."
SoHi coach Aaron Swanson said for his team, the strength lies when they play as a team, which is something that they strayed from after the early minutes.
"We came out the first few minutes and played well, played consistent, we were doing the little things right," Swanson said. "We really kind of let that solid play slip away from us, and it became about individual efforts. We had kids working hard but not working productively, and not playing in our team system."
Soldotna outshot West 14-7 in the first period, and the Stars were rewarded with a goal from Nick Wrobel, who was positioned perfectly after a shot bounced off West goalie Joe Chekan and into the waiting clutches of Wrobel, who slipped the puck into the net from six feet out.
After the early score, West turned up their offensive pressure and didn't let off for much of the rest of the game. The Eagles outshot the Stars 27-7 in the final two periods of play.
Midway through the second period, Kevin Hodsdon managed to knot the game up with a long range shot that went untouched for about 20 feet and past Soldotna goaltender Cody Harvey.
The tie held until late in the game, when Swanson called a timeout with 1:27 left in the game.
"More than anything, we were just getting a little rest for the kids," Swanson said. "They were just coming off the ice, and we talked about what's going down and trying to make a play."
With under a minute to go, the Stars broke out on a 2-on-1 breakaway, but a West defender intercepted the puck, which then led to a West breakaway.
With a picture-perfect assist from defenseman Ryder Schwamm from the left wing, Teders cleanly slipped the puck past Harvey for the go-ahead score.
"A couple of more goals would be nice," Shasby quipped. "But the overall effort was nice. I felt good about it.
"They have a pretty good goalie, he has a good track record."
Harvey was solid in the net for Soldotna, saving 32 of 34 shots, while Chekan saved 20 of 21 shots to pick up the win for West.
"That game's nowhere near that close without Cody, and he played an outstanding game," Swanson said. "Definitely glad he's on our side."
With the loss, Soldotna drops to 6-6 overall on the season, while West improves to 8-2-1.
Eagles 2, Stars 1
West 0 1 1 —2
Soldotna 1 0 0 —1
First period — 1. Soldotna, Wrobel, pp, 11:48. Penalties — Soldotna 1 for 2:00; West 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 2. West, Hodsdon, 8:11. Penalties — none.
Third period — 3. West, Teders (Schwamm), 14:20. Penalties — Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Soldotna 14-4-3—21; West 7-16-11—34.
Goalies — Soldotna, Harvey (34 shots, 32 saves); West, Chekan (21 shots, 20 saves).
Power plays — Soldotna 1 for 1; West 0 for 2.