PALMER — As Soldotna skated into the locker room for the second intermission, the Stars held the slim 2-1 lead. But Soldotna was also tagged with a four-minute double-minor at the end of the period.
With Palmer set to start the third with a four-minute power play, the game could have gone either direction. But Soldotna killed the long penalty, converted a penalty shot during the final period and held on for a 3-2 North Star Conference win over the Moose on Saturday at the MTA Events Center in Palmer.
“The four-minute penalty kill to start the third period that was successful for us, that was huge for us,” Soldotna head coach Aaron Swanson said after the win. “It really got things going for us.”
The roller-coaster third period started with the Stars short-handed, but Soldotna jumped to a 3-1 lead at the 12:46 mark of the period. Forward Nick Wrobel was awarded a penalty shot after he was pulled down near the Palmer goal. Wrobel snapped a shot from the inside edge of the left wing circle into the far side of the net.
The goal ended up as the insurance goal Soldotna needed. Palmer sophomore Hayden Moistner cut the Stars’ lead to one goal with 9:32 left in the period. Just moments after Palmer called a timeout, sophomore Darren Fish sent a pass across the face of the crease to Moistner, who sent a shot into the net from the bottom of the left wing circle.
Fish also helped give Palmer an early lead in the contest. After taking the puck from teammate Jarrett Johns, Fish crossed the blue line. Just behind the blue line, Fish was tripped up. He fell to the ice, but was able to reach out and get a pass to Josh Myers. Once Myers had the puck, he sent a quick wrist shot past Soldotna goalie Cody Harvey.
“That was a nice little play by their guy,” Swanson said.
The goal came just 30 seconds into regulation.
“It caught Cody off guard, it seemed like,” Swanson said.
Soldotna managed to tie the game late in the period. Defenseman Jake O’Lena knocked in the rebound off a Ty Fenton shot on the power play, with 2:23 left in the first period. Forward Kenny Griffin created the play, by walking the puck between the circles.
Griffin gave the Stars a lead in the second period, scoring at the 9:47 mark.
Soldotna outshot Palmer 34-19 in the win. Harvey made 17 saves. Freshman Cody Grogan stopped 31 shots for the Moose.
Soldotna finished 2-1 during its weekend trip through the Valley. The Stars fell to Colony 3-0 on Thursday and rebounded to beat defending conference champion Wasilla 3-2 in overtime on Friday. Swanson said the Stars hoped to take at least two of the three games in the Valley.
“That was our goal coming in for the weekend,” Swanson said. “We did it the hard way, losing the opening one. We’re happy to come back and get two wins after that.”
It was the second straight one-goal win for the Stars, and the second one-goal win over the Moose this season. Soldotna also beat Palmer 3-2 earlier this year.
“Night in, night out in this conference. Battles every night,” Swanson said.
Soldotna 3, Palmer 2
Saturday, MTA Events Center
First period — 1. Palmer- Myers (Fish, Johns) 14:30; 2. Soldotna- O’Lena (Fenton, Griffin) pp 2:23.
Second period — 2. Soldotna- Griffin (Wrobel) 9:47.
Third period — 3. Soldotna- Wrobel (penalty shot) 12:46; 4. Palmer- Moistner (Fish, Clements) 9:32.
Shots on goal: Soldotna 11-10-13—34, Palmer 4-8-7—19; Saves: Soldotna- Harvey 3-7-7—17, Palmer- Grogan 10-9-12—31.
Warriors power past Kards
WASILLA — After suffering a tough overtime loss to Soldotna Friday night, Wasilla rebounded in a hurry.
Fueled by four power-play goals, Wasilla stormed to a 7-4 win over Kenai Central at the Brett Memorial Ice Arena on Saturday.
Senior Tanner Schachle bagged the hat trick and senior Cooper Hanson collected two goals and two assists to help Wasilla improve to 6-2 in North Star Conference play.
Adam Apangalook and Tyler Hansen also scored for WHS. Andrew Cooley, Jack Reeves and Blake Carricaburu finished with two assists each.
Wasilla used ample opportunity with the advantage to blow open a close game. Wasilla and Kenai were knotted at 1 when Wasilla struck first on the power play. Hansen scored on the advantage to give the Warriors the 2-1 lead midway through the first. Schachle scored on the power play midway through the second to give Wasilla a 4-2 advantage. Hanson and Apangalook each scored with the advantage in the third.
Kenai was tagged with 17 total penalties in the game.
Wasilla outshot Kenai 41-11 in the win. Justin Alvey made 34 saves in the loss. Kiana Verplancke stopped seven pucks to earn the win in the Warriors net.
Jake Eubank had a big game for the Kardinals, scoring the first two goals and assisting on the second two goals. Cody Arbelovsky also had a pair of assists, while Nathan Zorbas and Kyle Olson added goals.
Wasilla 7, Kenai 4
Saturday, Brett Arena
First period — 1. Wasilla- Schachle (Hanson, Cooley); 2. Kenai- Eubank (Dosko) 11:30; 3. Wasilla- T. Hansen (Apangalook) pp 9:22.
Second period — 4. Wasilla- Hanson (Schachle, Carricaburu) 10:56; 5. Wasilla- Schachle (Reeves, Cooley) pp 7:15; 6. Kenai- Eubank (unassisted) 6:44; 7. Kenai- Zorbas (Arbelovsky, Eubank) 00:03.
Third period — 8. Wasilla- Hanson (Reeves) pp 10:40; 9. Wasilla- Apangalook (Carricaburu, Hanson) pp 9:02; 10. Wasilla- Schachle (unassisted) 7:55; 11. Kenai- Olson (Arbelovsky, Eubank) 7:55.
Shots on goal: Kenai 3-3-5—11, Wasilla 9-20-12—41; Saves: Kenai- Alvey 7-18-9—34; Wasilla- K. Verplancke 2-1-4—7.
Colony finishes perfect weekend
WASILLA — The Colony Knights’ shutout streak was snapped, but the winning streak is still alive.
Colony, which recorded back-to-back shutouts on Thursday and Friday, secured the three-day sweep of Peninsula opponents with a 2-1 win over the Homer Mariners on Saturday afternoon at the Menard Arena in Wasilla.
“For us, it’s everything,” Colony head coach Jamie Smith said of the three-win weekend, which included a 3-0 victory over Soldotna on Thursday and a 4-0 win over Kenai on Friday. “From the beginning, we’ve been trying to get a top-two seed (in the North Star Conference tournament). We haven’t done that in years.”
The Knights improved to 6-2 in NSC play with the wins.
“It puts us in a real good position,” Smith said of the Knights, who are now locked in a first-place tie with Wasilla.
Colony caps regular-season play against Wasilla on Thursday and Palmer on Friday.
“For us, it gives us a little momentum here,” Smith said.
Colony and Knights netminder Colton Beebe nearly notched a third shutout in as many days. Homer’s Anton Kuzmin sent a loose puck into the net with only 26 seconds left in regulation.
“He went almost nine periods without giving up a goal,” Smith said.
Beebe stopped all 21 shots he saw on Thursday and all 27 on Friday, before stopping nine of 10 shots on Saturday.
“He’s our guy. When he plays great, we have a chance,” Smith said.
Colton Symbol gave Colony its first lead late in the second period. With 20 seconds left in the frame, Symbol scored on a play set up by Cy Eller. Jacob Kirsch added a goal midway through the third.
Colony 2, Homer 1
Saturday, Menard Arena
First period — no scoring.
Second period — 1. Colony- Symbol (Eller, Foster) 0:20.
Third period — 2. Colony- Kirsch (Diltz) 6:07; 3. Homer- Kuzmin (unassisted) 0:26.
Shots on goal: Homer 2-4-4—10, Colony 7-7-18—32; Saves: Homer- Polushkin 7-6-17—30, Colony- Beebe 2-4-3—9.
Stars notch overtime win against Warriors
WASILLA — Persistence paid off for the Soldotna Stars on Friday.
Despite falling behind in the first period and managing only a pair of third-period shots, the Stars fought back to earn a 3-2 overtime win over the Wasilla Warriors on Friday at the Brett Memorial Ice Arena in Wasilla.
And it was the persistent play of Nick Wrobel and his linemates that allowed the Stars to celebrate after the victory. Wrobel, in the middle of a flurry of action in front of the Warriors net, knocked in a rebound with 2 minutes, 33 seconds, left in the tiebreaker to give the Stars the win.
“It was a big pile down there. He happened to get a stick on it and get it in. It was a great play for him,” Soldotna head coach Aaron Swanson said of Wrobel’s goal after the win.
Just prior to the goal, SoHi’s Bobo Lott won a battle behind the Warriors net, pulled a puck off the back boards and sent a centering pass. Ty Fenton put the initial shot on goal. Wasilla freshman netminder Wyatt Monear made the save, but Wrobel was able to knock the rebound in.
“Just getting the puck in front of the net and making something happen,” Swanson said of the play.
The goal came only moments after Wasilla had two prime chances to bag the game-winner. SoHi senior goalie Cody Harvey made two big saves to keep the game tied. Wasilla senior Cooper Hanson snapped a wrister from the right wing circle. Harvey blocked the shot, but left the rebound at the doorstep. Junior Tanner Schachle came in and put a shot on, but Harvey was able to get his pad in front of the puck.
Harvey’s big overtime stops came after his 22 saves through regulation.
The Soldotna win came a day after suffering a 3-0 loss to Colony. The Knights victory gave Colony the two-game series sweep over the Stars. But Friday, with the 3-2 win over Wasilla, Soldotna took the two-game season series against the Warriors. Soldotna blanked Wasilla 3-0 earlier in the season.
“The loss to Colony was a big one. It did give them a series sweep for the season. To lose those points hurts us, but to have the advantage over Wasilla kind of turns it back around and helps us,” Swanson said.
Wasilla has been super against North Star Conference competition this season. But Soldotna has been the Warriors’ kryptonite. Through action Friday, Wasilla stands at 5-0 against NSC teams other than Soldotna, averaging five goals per game against those other teams. The Warriors have not allowed more than a goal in a game against any other conference foe. But the Warriors are now 0-2 against the Stars. Swanson said he feels his team matches up well against Wasilla, the defending NSC champions.
“I think we do. I think we’re a team where our defense is the strength from the net out,” Swanson said. “Goaltending first, and our defense is real strong.”
Swanson said while many of the other teams in the conference have high-scoring offenses, Soldotna has relied on team defense and has success in low-scoring games.
Wasilla took the lead late in the first period with Schachle’s power-play goal. Defenseman Andrew Cooley sent a pass between the circles to forward Jack Reeves.
Reeves skated between the circles and put a shot on goal. Harvey lost control of the rebound, and Schachle tapped the loose puck in.
Soldotna scored a pair of power-play goals early in the second period to take a lead. Jake O’Lena tied the score just inside the second period, hammering home a rebound off of a Preston Weeks shot. Less than three minutes later, with the Stars back on the power play, Toma Johnson sent a sharp pass across the zone to the right wing circle where Kenny Griffin put a puck into the upper shelf of the net.
Wasilla tied the score late in the second period with a Hanson goal. Hanson knocked in a rebound after an Adam Apangalook shot.
Wasilla dropped to 5-2 in NSC play with the loss, and into a first-place tie with Colony.
Soldotna 3, Wasilla 2 OT
Friday, Brett Arena
First period — 1. Wasilla- Schachle (Reeves, Cooley) pp 0:42.
Second period — 2. Soldotna- O’Lena (Weeks) pp 13:31; 3. Soldotna- Griffin (Johnson, Wrobel) 10:38; 4. Wasilla- Hanson (Apangalook) 6:42.
Third period — no scoring.
Overtime — 5. Soldotna- Wrobel (Fenton, B. Lott) 2:33.
Knights blank another opponent
WASILLA — Another day, another shutout against a Peninsula rival for the Colony Knights.
Colony struck four times in the first period and held on for a 4-0 win over the Kenai Kardinals at the Menard Arena on Friday night.
Jacob Kirsch and Mark Thygeson each scored just more than a minute apart early in the first to give the Knights a two-goal lead. Gunner Stadem and Jacob Link tallied goals less than two minutes apart midway through the first to extend Colony’s lead to four goals.
Senior Colton Beebe stopped 27 shots to earn the win and record his second straight shutout. Beebe and the Knights blanked the Soldotna Stars 3-0 on Thursday.
Colony forced Kenai starting netminder Justin Alvey out of the game, scoring three goals within the first nine minutes of regulation. Reserve Nate O’Lena stopped 22 of the 23 CHS shots he faced.
Colony 4, Kenai 0
Friday, Menard Arena
First period — 1. Colony- Kirsch (Vincent, Stadem) 11:51; 2. Colony- Thygeson (unassisted) 10:46; 3. Colony- Stadem (Sanders) 7:39; 4. Colony- Link (Eller, Stadem) 6:07.
Second period — no scoring.
Third period — no scoring.
Shots on goal: Kenai 7-11-9—27, Colony 14-6-9—29; Saves: Kenai- Alvey 3-x-x—3, O’Lena 7-6-9—22, Colony- Beebe 7-11-9—27.
Mariners get past Moose
PALMER — Sparked by a three-goal first period, Homer scored a 5-3 win over Palmer Friday at the MTA Events Center.
Homer added goals in the second and third periods to score its first win of the season over a Valley North Star Conference opponent.
Valary Dietz scored to put the Moose on the scoreboard in the second period. Chris Dojka and Hayden Moister added third-period goals for Palmer, which fell to 0-6-1 in conference play.
Homer outshot Palmer 36-28. Cody Grogan made 31 saves for Palmer.