Getting behind a team 2-0 that is backstopped by Cody Harvey is asking for trouble.
The Kenai Central hockey team asked for trouble Tuesday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex and got it.
Soldotna held off the Kards 3-2 to move to 3-1 in the North Star Conference and 7-6 overall. Kenai fell to 3-2 in the league.
“We gave up two goals in the first period and we spent the whole game trying to recover from that,” Kenai coach Pete Iverson said. “We let Soldotna drive the first period.”
Just 2 minutes, 11 seconds, into the game, SoHi’s Kenny Griffin picked up the puck in the neutral zone and cruised past the Kenai defense for a 1-0 lead.
SoHi coach Aaron Swanson pointed out the big part of that goal came at center ice, where Ty Fenton separated Kenai from the puck to clear the way for Griffin.
Swanson said the second goal also was a team effort. With 5:36 left in the first, both Coel Nelson and Craig Lott battled for the puck in front of the Kenai net.
The puck popped to a wide-open Hunter Lott in the slot. Lott buried the chance.
“In the second period, we knew Kenai had a chance to regroup,” Swanson said. “We knew they were going to come at us.
“We weathered the storm and (Cody) Harvey made some big saves.”
The Kards outshot the Stars 15-7 in the second period, but only put one goal on the board.
With 10:14 left in the second, Ross Hanson got the puck and slid below the faceoff dot, waiting for just the right moment to score from the tough angle.
While Hanson got Harvey there, the SoHi goalie was able to stop the freshman on three breakaways, including one just seconds after Hanson’s second-period goal.
“It wasn’t just Hanson,” Swanson said. “We gave up some good opportunities to Kenai in general and Harvey made some big saves.”
In the middle of the second, the Kards spent 1:30 on the five-on-three power play. Harvey made four tough saves during that time.
“We had a lot of opportunities we did not convert on,” Iverson said. “We weren’t able to get a goal on the five-on-three.”
With 10:47 left in the third period, SoHi’s Nick Wrobel beat a pair of Kenai defenders for a power-play goal.
But at 9:44, Kenai scored short-handed to get back in the game. TJ Wagoner created a turnover, but lost his stick. The puck slid free to Jake Eubank, who stuffed a backhand past Harvey while two SoHi defenders closed in.
The loss avenged a 6-3 loss SoHi took to Kenai at the beginning of the season.
“We have tightened things up on defense since that game,” Swanson said. “It was the opening weekend of the season and we are a very young team with a big learning curve.
“We’ve come a long way since then.”
Swanson said Justice Miller gave a nice defensive effort in front of Harvey, who made 30 saves. Iverson said Nate O’Lena, with 18 saves, played well against his old team.
Stars 3, Kardinals 2
Soldotna 2 1 0 —3
Kenai 0 2 0 —2
First period — 1. Soldotna, Griffin (Fenton), 2:11; 2. Soldotna, H. Lott (Nelson, C. Lott), 5:36. Penalties — Soldotna 1 for 2:00; Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 3. Kenai, Hanson (Arbelovsky, Mese), 4:46. Penalties — Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 4. Soldotna, Wrobel (Miller, J. O’Lena), pp, 4:13; 5. Kenai, Eubank (Wagoner), sh., 5:16. Penalties — Soldotna 2 for 4:00; Kenai 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal — Soldotna 6-7-8—21; Kenai 8-15-9—32.
Goalies — Soldotna, Harvey (32 shots, 30 saves); Kenai, N. O’Lena (21 shots, 18 saves).