For the first time in the 20-year history of the program, the Soldotna hockey team has defeated four Anchorage schools in the regular season.
The fourth victim was East High. The Stars topped the Thunderbirds 2-1 late Saturday night at the Soldotna Sports Center in nonconference action. Soldotna is now 14-3 overall.
"This is one of those exceptional years when our team can compete with the Anchorage schools," said Soldotna coach Pat Nolden, who has been at the school 18 years. "It's neat to see.
"We've had good goaltending, our defense is steady, and we have two solid lines that can compete with anybody in the state."
The Stars actually were outshot in the game Saturday 31-22, but picked up the win due to stellar goaltending from Egan Gleason.
"If you have goaltending in the high 90s for save percentage, you're going to be in the game with anybody," Nolden said. "Egan really stood out for us."
The two teams went into the second period tied 1-1 after the Stars got a first-period goal from Billy Smith on an assist from Anthony Murray.
The game-winner came on a power play in the second. Scott Laurion, on assists from Smith and Eric Newby, lit the lamp with 7:08 left in the second.
"East has a very good penalty kill," Nolden said. "They played us pretty tough and stalled out our power play. We did get the big one, though."
Despite the victory, Nolden knows both he and the team will have to keep improving to keep an edge on some of the Anchorage schools.
Nolden said the team needs to work on faceoffs and making correct decisions on whether to dump or carry the puck. Meanwhile, Nolden said playing the Anchorage schools also gives himself a chance to study game tape and learn more about coaching.
STARS 2, THUNDERBIRDS 1
East 1 0 0 --1
Soldotna 1 1 0 --2
First period -- 1. East, Jones (Constantinos, Masek), 4:02; 2. Soldotna, Smith (Murray), 9:05. Penalties -- East 1 for 2:00; Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Second period -- 3. Soldotna, Laurion (Smith, E. Newby), pp, 7:52. Penalties -- East 2 for 4:00; Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Third period -- none. Penalties -- East 4 for 8:00; Soldotna 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal -- East 13-11-7--31; Soldotna 4-13-5--22.
Goalies -- East, Rosett (22 shots, 20 saves); Soldotna, Gleason (31 shots, 30 saves).
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