The Soldotna High School hockey team opened its weekend homestand with a 5-1 loss to the Colony Knights in a North Star Conference game at the Soldotna Sports Center.
"They put in a good game," said Colony coach Dale Mattson of his squad. "We played well. We had a couple big mistakes, but our goalie came up big on those."
Indeed, Tyrel Henkel came up with 23 saves on 24 shots for the Knights, frustrating Soldotna's offense for most of the night.
"He had a great game," said Soldotna coach Aaron Swanson of Henkel. "It seems like every time we play them, he does real well. He controls the puck real well. Either he covers it or he steers it to the corners."
That meant trouble for the Stars, who fired several good shots on goal but have gotten many of their goals this season due to scrappy play in front of the net, looking for the kind of rebounds that Henkel just wasn't giving up.
The Stars had the first good scoring bid of game on a breakaway by Clayton Glick three minutes into the first period, but Henkel made a nice save on the play.
The Knights scored late in the period, then added three more goals, including a shorthanded tally, in the second period.
Soldotna finally got on the board in the third period, taking advantage of a power-play opportunity. Matt Vasilie led the breakout and fired a shot from the slot. Henkel knocked down Vasilie's rocket, but Brian Herring was able to pounce on one of the few rebounds given up by Henkel and potted the goal on the follow-up.
Colony added a power-play goal with just under three minutes to play to ice the game.
Teemu Maki had two goals and two assists for the Knights while Ryan Pauling netted a goal and two assists.
Swanson said he thought his squad played well in the second and third periods, but Colony had almost constant pressure on Stars goalie Kyle Kay through the first period.
"We were just running around, two steps behind," said Swanson. "We came out in the second period and got after it and started shooting the puck."
The Stars finish the weekend series with conference games against Palmer tonight at 8:15 and against Wasilla Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
The games should go a long way toward determining the seeding for the conference tournament, which starts Feb. 3.
"It sets up the whole region tournament who beats who here," Swanson said.
KNIGHTS 5, STARS 1
Colony 1 3 1 5
Soldotna 0 0 1 1
First period 1. Colony, Pauling (Maki), 11:28. Penalties Colony 1 for 2:00, Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Second period 2. Colony, Lund (Huppert), 7:37 sh; 3. Colony, Arentz (Maki), 8:41; 4. Colony, Maki (Pauling), 12:11. Penalties Colony 5 for 10:00, Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Third period 5. Soldotna, Herring (Vasilie), 0:45 pp; 6. Colony, Maki (Pauling, Manelick), 12:02 pp. Penalties Colony 5 for 10:00, Soldotna 3 for 6:00.
Shots Colony 14-6-1030, Soldotna 7-8-924.
Goalies Colony, Henkel (24 shots, 23 saves); Soldotna, Kay (30 shots, 25 saves).
Kardinals 15, Moose 0
The Kenai Central Kardinals defeated the Palmer Moose in a North Star Conference game at the Soldotna Sports Center Thursday.
Daniel Christianson led the Kardinals with three goals while Dustin Moore and Aaron Lampman-Reid potted two goals each.
Kenai will face Wasilla today at 3:30 p.m. and finishes the weekend against Colony Saturday at 6 p.m.
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