The Soldotna hockey team won the game 2-0, but Hutchison goalie Zach Baxter won player of the game.
The Stars pelted the Hutchison tender with 74 shots in a nonconference contest Friday night at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, but he warded off an astonishing 72 of them in a losing effort.
“He’s the player of the game in my opinion,” said SoHi coach Derek Urban. “It was the same way yesterday, we just peppered him.”
Baxter took on 23 shots in the first period, 24 in the second and 27 in the third, all coming a day after SoHi outshot the Hawks 55-12 in a 6-1 win. In 90 minutes of combined game action, Baxter faced 129 shots and stopped 121 of them, or a .937 save percentage.
“A lot of our shots we tried getting in low and on rebounds, but he was tough,” said SoHi senior Corey Hanson.
SoHi improved to 10-5-1 overall with the win.
On the other end of the ice, freshman goalie Corbin Wirz got his first varsity start and win between the pipes for SoHi, earning an 11-save shutout. Junior goaltender Billy Yoder was out after finishing off a stint with the AA Alaska Under-16 Oilers club team and a family vacation. SoHi forward Parker Lockwood was also out after playing with the Oilers. Kenzie Powell started in goal for Soldotna the previous night.
Wyatt Medcoff and Galen Brantley III each scored to send SoHi to the win. Medcoff struck first on the power play in the first period, wrapping the puck around the left pipe in an acrobatic display after falling to the ice.
Brantley III scored midway through the second period with a short-handed strike. Just prior to the goal, SoHi had been shut out on a pair of five-on-three power plays in the period.
Hutchison did itself no favors with a multitude of penalties in the game, including the second period frenzy that saw Hutchison players in the box for a total of 12 of the 15 minutes.
“We gave them a butt kicking (Thursday), we hit them a lot,” Hanson said. “I think they were thinking about that.”
With hard shots and bodies flying in the chippy contest, the two teams dueled well into the third period with SoHi clinging to a two-goal lead, even with the lopsided shots count.
“We just tried to stay out of their BS, and as long as they didn’t score on us, we were fine,” Hanson said.
After the two goals against him, Baxter put on a show in keeping the Stars scoreless in the final 22:09 of the game. The Hutchison goalie hugged the crease, caught loose pucks in midair, and stretched out for the wraparounds that SoHi sent his way.
Ultimately, Baxter did all he could to keep the Hawks in the game, but the Hutchison offense could do nothing to cut the lead against Wirz. Coach Urban credited Wirz for staying composed in his debut varsity start, adding that the defensive wall in front of the frosh did well in keeping pucks away.
“You could tell he was nervous, so we tried to keep him loose,” Urban said. “Kudos to the defensemen for clearing pucks away.”
Soldotna Sports Complex
STARS 2, HAWKS 0
Hutchison 0 0 0 —0
Soldotna 1 1 0 —2
1st period — 1. Soldotna, Medcoff (Daugherty, Witthus), PP, 8:59. Penalties — Soldotna 2 for 4:00; Hutchison 4 for 8:00.
2nd period — 2. Soldotna, Brantley (unassisted), SH, 7:51. Penalties — Soldotna 4 for 11:00; Hutchison 6 for 12:00.
3rd period — no scoring. Penalties — Soldotna 2 for 12:00; Hutchison 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Soldotna 23-24-27—74; Hutchison 5-4-2—11.
Goalies — Soldotna, Wirz (11 shots, 11 saves); Hutchison, Baxter (74 shots, 72 saves).