A defense that had been cause for Soldotna hockey coach Pat Nolden to worry has now become a source of pride.
Behind a rock-solid defensive effort, the Stars defeated Chugiak 4-1 Friday night in a nonconference game at the Soldotna Sports Center.
"Our defense, to start the year, was what I thought would be one of our weak points," said Nolden, whose team improved to 13-3 overall. "Now, they've turned into a good defensive core."
Anchorage schools, like fourth-ranked Chugiak, are always a major measuring stick for peninsula schools, since Anchorage traditionally has the top hockey teams in the state.
With the win against the Mustangs, the third-ranked Stars have now defeated three of the six Anchorage schools, with losses to top dogs Dimond and Service. Soldotna was battling East Anchorage as the Clarion went to press late Saturday night.
"It's great to beat a big-schools team," said Soldotna goalie Kenny Bishop, who made 19 saves. "Those teams are hard to beat for Soldotna teams. We have a chance, but we have to play a good game to do it."
Things didn't start out so good for Soldotna, as Chugiak's Michael Johnson beat Bishop just 3:21 into the contest.
"We didn't get concerned," said Soldotna forward Derek Martin. "We knew if we started concentrating, we were a good team and we could come back."
The Stars did just that. Within six minutes of Chugiak's tally, goals by Eric Newby and Billy Smith gave Soldotna a 2-1 lead. Smith and David Newby assisted on the Newby goal, while Smith scored his goal unassisted.
One of the big turning points in the game then came with 12:50 left in the second period, when Eric Newby scored on assists from Hunter Sirois and Smith. Chugiak's Bryan Wild was whistled for spearing on the play, giving Soldotna a five-minute power play.
"Our power play is good," Nolden said. "I don't know what percentage we are clipping along at, but if you give us a five-minute power play, you're going to see a lot of rubber."
About two minutes and 30 seconds into the power play, the Stars went up 4-1 when Dan Jensen potted a goal off an assist by Peter Kim.
After that, it was up to Bishop and the defensive core of Steve Herring, Scott Laurion, David Newby and Nels Hansen to preserve the lead. The group was more than up to the task.
"I don't think we gave up one odd-man rush the entire game," Nolden said. "If you can do that, it's going to take a lot of work for the other team to score."
That's especially the case when there's a hot goalie like Bishop in the net. The Stars only outshot the Mustangs 23-20, but Bishop's play assured that advantage would be enough.
"It was one of the best games I played all year," said Bishop, a senior. "I just felt on tonight. Everything was going my way."
STARS 4, MUSTANGS 1
Chugiak 1 0 0 --1
Soldotna 2 2 0 --4
First period -- 1. Chugiak, Michael Johnson (Bryan Gallagher), 3:21; 2. Soldotna, Eric Newby (Billy Smith, David Newby), 9:34; 3. Soldotna, Billy Smith, 9:24. Penalties -- Chugiak 4 for 8:00; Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Second period -- 4. Soldotna, Eric Newby (Hunter Sirois, Billy Smith), 2:10; 5. Soldotna, Dan Jensen (Peter Kim), 4:41. Penalties -- Chugiak 1 for 5:00; Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Third period -- none. Penalties -- Chugiak 0 for 0:00; Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal -- Chugiak 6-11-3--20; Soldotna 9-10-4--23.
Goalies -- Chugiak, Brian Wnetrzak (23 shots,19 saves); Soldotna, Kenny Bishop (20 shots, 19 saves).
East High 7, Kenai Central 2
There's strategy adjustments, and then there's what Kenai Central coach Brian Gabriel Sr. likes to call "Chris Farley" adjustments. After Friday's nonconference loss at the Soldotna Sports Center, the Kardinals coach is hoping a little bit of Farley will chart the course for a successful conclusion to Kenai's season.
Farley is the deceased comic actor who gained fame for the line, "livin' in a trailer, down by the river." Gabriel Sr.'s point is that unless Kenai starts showing some pride against the state's biggest schools, they won't find themselves, shall we say, living in hockey's prime real estate.
In the second period, Gabriel Sr. said Kenai played like it did not belong on the same ice with East and allowed four goals to fall behind 5-0. Before the third period, Gabriel Sr. issued a Farley talk and the Kardinals skated to a 2-2 tie in the final 15 minutes, outshooting the Thunderbirds 10-7.
Saturday, the Kardinals lost a nonconference game to Chugiak 14-2 at the Sports Center.
"When we play an Anchorage school, I think (our team) has it in the back of their minds that they're supposed to be better than us, so we don't want to do anything too dramatic," Gabriel Sr. said. "Before the break, we played Colony and scored 10 seconds into the game.
"It was almost as if the players jumped back and went, 'Whoa. That's not according to script. We'd better let them score.' Colony came back to beat us."
Gabriel is hoping the third period, and in some respects the first period, will give Kenai (7-7-1 overall) confidence that it can play with the state's best teams.
In the first period, Kenai was outshot 6-5 and East's lone goal came with just over three minutes until intermission.
Kenai was down 2-0 with 4:57 to play in the second period when it went on the power play. It looked like the Kardinals had a chance to get back into the game until East's Robin Masek began confusing both Kenai defenders and East cheerleaders.
With 4:01 to play, Masek picked up a Kenai turnover just outside of the Kardinals blue line and swooped in on a breakaway to beat Kenai goalie Ryan Dukowitz for a shorthanded goal.
The East cheerleaders immediately broke into a customary after-goal cheer, but only had a chance to chant, "Robin, Robin he's our man, let's give him a great big hand," before Masek lit the lamp on another shorthanded tally with 3:27 left in the second.
After a brief conversation, the cheerleaders decided to restart the cheer, and this time Masek let them get all the way to the, "All right, Robiiin!" clincher.
"I think next time I'm going to think about declining the penalty," Gabriel Sr. said. "I'm not sure what the ref would do if he looked at the bench after a penalty, and I gave the decline sign."
There's no saying what the refs would do, but East coach Jon Lamebull very well may have complained.
"We are doing really well with our penalty kill. We're at about 80 percent," Lamebull said after his team, ranked fifth in the state, improved to 10-6. "I think we've only had five power-play goals scored on us all year.
"When we're killing penalties, we play smart. I wish we could play that smart all the time."
Kenai fell behind 6-0 early in the third period before getting to East goalie Brian Northcutt, who Gabriel said is probably the best in the state, for a few goals. Owen Brewer scored both goals, with Adrian Borchgrevink collecting two assists and Jimmy Gabriel getting one.
"We skated seven freshman against an Anchorage team, and that can be a scary thing," said Gabriel Sr., who was particularly happy with the way freshman Micah Lillard was willing to mix it up against East. "They all played well in that third period."
THUNDERBIRDS 7, KARDINALS 2
East 1 4 2 --7
Kenai 0 0 2 --2
First period -- 1. East, Walsky (Baldwin, Northcutt), 11:02. Penalties -- East 0 for 0:00; Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Second period -- 2. East, Jones (Masek), 1:06; 3. East, Masek, 10:59; 4. East, Masek (Jones), 11:33; 5. East, Armstrong (Rider), 14:14. Penalties -- East 2 for 4:00; Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Third period -- 6. East, Means (Armstrong, Luiten), 4:36; 7. Kenai, Brewer (Borchgrevink), 11:55; 8. Kenai, Brewer (Borchgrevink, J. Gabriel), 13:18; 9. East, Baldwin (Rider), 13:26. Penalties -- East 3 for 6:00; Kenai 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal -- East 6-13-7--26; Kenai 5-3-10--18.
Goalies -- East, Northcutt (18 shots, 16 saves); Kenai, Dukowitz (19 shots, 14 saves), Kornfield (7 shots, 5 saves).
Skyview 3, Palmer 0
Gabe Fellman had two assists and Lukas Fellman recorded a goal and an assist as the Panthers notched a North Star Conference victory Friday at the Soldotna Sports Center.
Pete Iverson, who stepped in as coach for David Waltemyer recently when Waltemyer had to travel Outside for family commitments, said the victory over the Moose was a continuation of solid practices of late.
"I was pretty excited that we came out and played the way we had been practicing," Iverson said. "We've been practicing really hard. Everybody has had a great attitude."
Skyview, which outshot Palmer 37-10, got the scoring started with 2:16 left in the first period, when Lukas Fellman scored on an assist from Gabe Fellman.
In the second period, the Panthers stretched their lead to a pair of goals when Taylor Adams lit the lamp off an assist from Gabe Fellman.
"Our guys were pumped up to play," Iverson said. "We skated hard. We were not giving Palmer time to think with the puck."
In the third period, Ginny Berg provided the back-breaker with 10:40 left in the game. Palmer goalie Morgan Jett, who had acquitted himself nicely all evening long, lost his stick while Skyview was attacking. Berg smartly flicked a backhand to his stick side, and it dribbled past the defenseless goalie. Daryl Sachwitz and Lukas Fellman assisted on the play.
Iverson gave credit to Lukas Fellman and Sachwitz for high-intensity attacking the whole evening, and also liked the attitude Mitch Burdick infused into the team.
The coach also said the brother and sister team of Randy and Ginny Berg provided a solid one-two punch on defense all evening.
PANTHERS 3, MOOSE 0
Palmer 0 0 0 --0
Skyview 1 1 1 --3
First period -- 1. Skyview, L. Fellman (G. Fellman), 12:44. Penalties -- Palmer 1 for 2:00; Skyview 1 for 2:00.
Second period -- 2. Skyview, Adams (G. Fellman), 6:27. Penalties -- Palmer 3 for 6:00; Skyview 2 for 4:00.
Third period -- 3. Skyview, G. Berg (Sachwitz, L. Fellman), 4:20. Penalties -- Palmer 5 for 18:00; Skyview 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal -- Palmer 3-5-2--10; Skyview 15-17-5--37.
Goalies -- Palmer, Jett (37 shots, 34 saves); Skyview, Kay (10 shots, 10 saves).
Colony 11, Skyview 2
Colony's Joey Guild recorded a hat trick to lead the Knights to a North Star Conference victory Saturday at the Soldotna Sports Center.
The Panthers kept the game close for a period, getting goals from Mitch Burdick, on an assist by Jake Satathite, and Gabe Fellman to end the first period behind 3-2. After that, it was all Colony.
KNIGHTS 11, PANTHERS 2
Colony 3 5 3 --11
Skyview 2 0 0 --2
First period -- 1. Colony, Lehe (Pokryfki), 3:27; 2. Skyview, Burdick (Satathite), 4:29; 3. Colony, Guild (Lehe), 10:21; 4. Colony, Crosta (Acena), 11:35; 5. Skyview, G. Fellman, 13:39. Penalties -- Colony 4 for 8:00; Skyview 4 for 8:00.
Second period -- 6. Colony, Pokryfki (Acena), 1:18; 7. Colony, Lehe (Reda), 2:49; 8. Colony, Guild (King), 4:19; 9. Colony, Crosta (Pokryfki), 10:05; 10. Colony, King (Beckman), 14:33. Penalties -- Colony 2 for 4:00; Skyview 4 for 8:00.
Third period -- 11. Colony, Reda, 2:35; 12. Colony, Guild (Crosta), 2:47; 13. Colony, Guild (Crosta, Reda), 11:43. Penalties -- Colony 5 for 10:00; Skyview 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal -- Colony 18-20-14--52; Skyview 5-3-5--13.
Goalies -- Colony, Keller (13 shots, 11 saves); Skyview, Williamson (18 shots, 15 saves), Kay (34 shots, 26 saves).
Colony 14, Homer 0
The Knights outshot the Mariners 79-12 to come away with a North Star Conference victory Friday at the Soldotna Sports Center.
Tony Keller and Dean Shultz teamed up to record the shutout for the Knights. Chris Crosta, Nate Pokryfki, Tommy Lene, Seth Reda and Joey Guild all had two goals for Colony.
Saturday, Palmer defeated Homer 3-0 in a NSC game at the Sports Center.
KNIGHTS 14, MARINERS 0
Colony 3 6 5 --14
Homer 0 0 0 --0
First period -- 1. Colony, Crosta (Geary), 9:37; 2. Colony, Pokryfki (Reda), 11:52; 3. Colony, Lene (Guild, Acena), 14:40. Penalties -- Colony 0 for 0:00; Homer 1 for 2:00.
Second period -- 4. Colony, Reda (Lene, Wilkens), 2:27; 5. Colony, Crosta (Lene, Guild), 4:11; 6. Colony, Lene (Reda), 4:48; 7. Colony, Guild (Crosta, Lene), 8:13; 8. Colony, Rehn (Guild), 9:28; 9. Guild (Crosta), 13:46. Penalties -- Colony 1 for 2:00; Homer 0 for 0:00.
Third period -- 10. Colony, Geary (Guild), 2:43; 11. Colony, Shultz (Reda, Crosta), 4:21; 12. Colony, Reda, 4:38; 13. Colony, Guild (Acena), 7:13; 14. Colony, Pokryfki, 13:25. Penalties -- Colony 1 for 2:00; Homer 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal -- Colony 29-30-20--79; Homer 3-6-3--12.
Goalies -- Colony, Keller, Shultz (12 shots, 12 saves); Homer, Meyers (79 shots, 65 saves).
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