Kenai's Dom Eubank skates away after sending Wasilla's Harvey Finch flying in the first period Friday at the Soldotna Sports Center. Wasilla forfeited the game in the second period.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The Wasilla hockey team forfeited Friday night’s North Star Conference showdown with Kenai Central at the Soldotna Sports Center because one more penalty would have meant a $1,500 fine for the Warriors.
The Kardinals, on the strength of five power-play goals, were leading the Warriors 7-1 when the game was forfeited with 4 minutes, 29 seconds, left in the second period. The Warriors had just one conference loss heading into the game. The win made it possible for Kenai (13-4-1, 8-0) to clinch the NSC regular season title with a 7-2 victory over Colony on Saturday at the Sports Center.
According to supplemental rules written by the Alaska School Activities Association for hockey, a team is fined each time it is assessed 15 penalties in a game. The first offense is $250, the second offense is $500 and the third offense is $1,500.
Wasilla had already hit 15 penalties twice this season. Warriors coach Bill Sturdevant said he was instructed by his school not to hit 15 penalties again.
The Warriors had eight penalties in the first period and had taken two minor penalties and another double-minor when the referees called a double-minor with 4:29 to play. Sturdevant said the game was being called tight and he did not think his team would be able to play the rest of the game without a penalty.
“We had to walk away,” Sturdevant said. “I hate to do that, but that’s the situation I’m in.”
Sturdevant said the game was called too tightly by the referees. He said his team had problems with penalties earlier in the season, but has been doing better lately.
“I thought the refereeing was terrible tonight,” said Sturdevant, who has coached at the high school level for six years and is in his first year as head coach at Wasilla.
He said he didn’t blame his players for reaching 14 penalties because he saw only five or six penalties that should have been called.
“It’s hard to tell my team to tighten up their game when they’re calling it like that,” Sturdevant said, referring to what he called “ticky-tack” penalties.
Sturdevant said the $1,500 fine would not have fit the style of his team’s play in the game. The Warriors were not assessed any major penalties or game misconducts. Both of those types of penalties are assessed as actions on the ice become dangerous and violent.
“My team wasn’t playing dirty,” he said. “They weren’t checking from behind. They weren’t doing things that could injure another player or could be harmful.
“I could see where the 15 penalties work in those cases. With the ticky-tack penalties that were being called, I don’t think it works.”
The two referees, or those who call the penalties, were Letitia Thomas and Ian Tracy. The linesman was Aaron Haakenson. Dick Waisanen, the local supervisor of the Central Peninsula Hockey Officials Association, did not see the game but defended the crew on the ice.
Waisanen said Tracy is selected year after year by coaches to referee in the conference tournament. Thomas, according to Waisanen, has refereed national girls tournaments and has been found competent by USA Hockey. Haakenson didn’t call penalties in Friday’s game because he served as linesman.
This year, Waisanen said high school hockey has gone in a similar direction to college, NHL and USA Hockey in calling holding, hooking and obstruction penalties that have not been called in the past.
“The first game I did this year at the Midget level, which is similar to high school, I think I had 44 penalties,” Waisanen said.
Kenai's Owen Dukowitz celebrates a first-period goal against Wasilla Friday night. He scored two goals in the game.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Waisanen said he knew there would be an adjustment phase, and he encouraged ASAA to increase the number of penalties required for a fine to 25. He said he was told the teams needed to adjust.
So far this year, Waisanen said, Homer has been fined twice, Wasilla has been fined twice and Soldotna has been fined once.
“I think it’s negligent of ASAA not to take a look at that this year,” Waisanen said. “These hockey programs are on a shoestring budget as it is.”
ASAA adopted its supplemental rules in October 1997 in response to increasing violence in high school hockey. For the 1997-98 season, the 15-penalty mark meant suspensions for coaches. The next season, the punishment was changed to fines.
Soldotna high school administrator Al Howard is the Region III representative on ASAA’s board of directors. Howard did not see Friday’s game.
When asked about increasing the 15-penalty mark, Howard said his initial reaction, from spending many years in sports, is that coaches should be able to get their players to play within the rules of the game.
He said increasing the 15-penalty mark could send the wrong message, adding that ASAA’s rules have been successful in taking much of the violence out of high school hockey.
Howard said it did catch his attention when Soldotna was hit with a fine this year for getting 15 penalties.
“Obviously, I’m open to reflect on all issues,” he said. “I think this was our first 15-penalty (fine) that I can remember. That raises eyebrows for me.”
Howard said he can’t guarantee that the issue will be discussed at the ASAA meeting in February, but said there is a good chance of that discussion taking place.
Soldotna athletic director Pat Nolden, who was the head hockey coach at SoHi for 13 years before giving up the post in 2003, said he filled in as a coach earlier this year and said games are definitely being called tighter. Nolden said he doesn’t mind the 15-penalty mark as much as he does the fines.
“If somebody pays, it should be the kids getting three or four penalties in the game,” Nolden said. “They should be suspended (from hockey). Put the onus on the kids. They’re the ones committing the penalties. These hockey programs don’t have that kind of money.”
The old-fashioned punishment for many penalties in hockey is the power play. While the Warriors missed out on a fine, they did get the old-fashioned punishment on Friday.
Wasilla’s penalty kill started out fine, with the Warriors’ Herbie Mansavage notching a short-handed goal to take the lead with 12:37 left in the first. That was the last shining moment for the penalty kill, though. Kenai had just five penalties and skated with an advantage for most of the game.
“They kept putting penalties on the board, and our power play was unstoppable,” said Kenai’s Dean Howell, who had three goals and an assist.
Kenai’s top line of Jed McGlasson, Brad Fusaro and Owen Dukowitz showed just how dangerous it is on the power play. Dukowitz had two goals and three assists, Fusaro had a goal and four assists and McGlasson had four assists. Also for Kenai, Justin Gabriel had a goal and Dom Eubank had an assist.
Kenai coach Nate Kiel, who has been involved in Kardinals hockey for about 20 years and has never seen an ending to a game like Friday, said his squad can’t get complacent because of the convincing victory. He said the team defense has been having too many breakdowns, such as the short-handed breakaway goal.
“I still don’t think we’re playing our best hockey,” Kiel said.
On Saturday, the Knights kept up with Kenai early, trailing just 3-2 after the first period, but Kenai scored four unanswered goals in the second period to put the game away. Kenai’s top line was again productive, with Dukowitz getting two goals and two assists, McGlasson getting two goals and an assist and Fusaro notching three assists.
Also for Kenai, Howell had a goal and an assist, Stephen Cronkhite had a goal, Taylor Brewer had a goal, Gabriel had two assists and Eubank and Reed Ehrhardt each had assists.
Soldotna 5, Colony 1
A save by Soldotna goalie Micah Perletti kept the Stars alive. A power-play goal by Ben Christianson got the Stars kicking on Friday night in a North Star Conference victory over the Knights.
Colony, which is winless this season, came out smelling an upset. With 4:54 to play in the first period, the Knights took the lead on a goal by Andrew Bargelski.
“We came out flat-footed,” Perletti said. “We lacked energy. We had a late game (Thursday) night, and that may have been a factor.”
With 2:45 left in the first period, the Stars were nearing the end of an unproductive power play when Kevin Garske took a slap shot from the point. Blake Huppert blocked the shot and the puck bounced out perfectly ahead of him, giving him a breakaway on Perletti. Perletti was able to avoid the 2-0 hole with a glove save.
Huppert was second on Colony’s team last year in points. This was just his second game this year due to shoulder surgery.
“That was a huge save,” Soldotna coach Aaron Swanson said after his team improved to 4-3 in the conference. “Micah really stepped up.”
Soldotna's Jenna Redford tries to keep Colony's Blake Huppert from scoring on Soldotna goalie Micah Perletti in the first period Friday at the Soldotna Sports Center.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
In the second period, both teams spent a lot of time in the penalty box, with Colony taking six penalties and Soldotna taking five. With 6:22 left, Christianson scored a power-play goal off a rebound in traffic. Eli Waldrip and Clayton Glick were credited with assists.
“You could just see the surge of energy go through them when they scored that goal,” Colony coach Dale Mattson said of the Stars.
Mattson said he has a young team, with only five or six upperclassmen, and the youth showed as the Knights quickly lost a handle on the game. Soldotna scored in a pair of 4-on-4 situations just 16 seconds apart to take a 3-1 lead at the end of the second period. Christianson scored on assists from Glick and Kevin Garske, and Garske scored unassisted.
The outburst marked the end of a dry spell for the Stars, who hadn’t scored in their last two games against Wasilla and West.
“Our kids weren’t shooting the puck,” Swanson said. “They weren’t taking the initiative to create a goal.”
The Stars wrapped up the victory with third-period goals from Daniel Markstrom and Glick. Perletti handled all 16 shots he saw after the first period.
“The defense got better as the game wore on,” Perletti said. “I feel the defense has been pretty strong all year.”
Soldotna 3, Palmer 1
The Stars improved to 5-3 in the conference with the win over the Moose on Saturday at the Soldotna Sports Center.
Daniel Markstrom, on an assist from Anton Olson, put Soldotna ahead 1-0 a little over three minutes into the game. After that, Palmer goalie James Isaccs (23 saves) and Soldotna goalie Micah Perletti (22 saves) kept the slate clean until late in the third period.
Soldotna’s Timo Gleason, on assists from Markstrom and Olson, scored with 2:31 left in the game. Palmer answered with an unassisted goal by Jeremy Wright with 1:24 left, but Clayton Glick clinched the game with an unassisted goal with 33 seconds left.
Homer 3, Colony 0
Homer goalie Ben Miller made 23 saves to get the Mariners a North Star Conference victory over the Knights on Thursday in Homer.
Colony had 23 shots to Homer’s 20. Drake Piper got Homer on the board in the second period when he scored on an assist from Sam Satre.
In the third period, Andrew Beile scored on assists from Aaron Lewis and Brady Quinn and Tracy Quance scored on an assist from Pat Pozzi.
KARDINALS 7, WARRIORS 1, forfeit
Wasilla 1 0 1
Kenai 4 3 7
First period 1. Wasilla, Mansavage (Wilson, Brent), 2:23; 2. Kenai, Fusaro (McGlasson, Dukowitz), 4:35; 3. Kenai, Gabriel (Dukowitz, Eubank), 5:58; 4. Kenai, Dukowitz (Howell, McGlasson), 9:20; 5. Kenai, Howell (McGlasson, Fusaro), 11:09. Penalties Wasilla 8 for 32:00, Kenai 2 for 4:00.
Second period 6. Kenai, Howell (Dukowitz, Fusaro), 2:57; 7. Kenai, Howell (Fusaro, McGlasson), 3:08; 8. Kenai, Dukowitz (Fusaro), 9:20. Penalties Wasilla 6 for 12:00, Kenai 3 for 6:00.
STARS 5, KNIGHTS 1
Colony 1 0 0 1
Soldotna 0 3 2 5
First period 1. Colony, Bargelski (Breck, Carter), 10:06. Penalties Colony 2 for 4:00, Soldotna 4 for 8:00.
Second period 2. Soldotna, B. Christianson (Waldrip, Glick), 8:38; 3. Soldotna, B. Christianson (Glick, Garske), 11:14; 4. Soldotna, Garske (un.), 11:30. Penalties Colony 6 for 12:00; Soldotna 5 for 18:00.
Third period 5. Soldotna, Markstrom (Olson), 5:42; 6. Soldotna, Glick (Christianson), 8:55. Penalties Colony 3 for 6:00; Soldotna 4 for 8:00.
Shots on goal Colony 5-5-1121, Soldotna 7-12-928.
Goalies Colony, Nyberg (28 shots, 25 saves), Soldotna, Perletti (21 shots, 20 saves).
STARS 3, MOOSE 1
Palmer 0 0 1 1
Soldotna 1 0 2 3
First period 1. Soldotna, Markstrom (Olson), 3:05. Penalties Palmer 1 for 2:00; Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Second period none. Penalties Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Third period 2. Soldotna, Gleason (Markstrom, Olson), 12:29; 3. Palmer, Wright (un), 13:36; 4. Soldotna, Glick (un.), 14:27. Penalties Palmer 2 for 4:00, 3 for 17:00.
Shots on goal Palmer 3-13-723; Soldotna 8-10-826.
Goalies Palmer, Isaccs (26 shots, 23 saves); Soldotna, Perletti (23 shots, 22 saves).
KARDINALS 7, KNIGHTS 2
Colony 2 0 0 2
Kenai 3 4 0 7
First period 1. Colony, Huppert (Bargelski, Breck), 4:56; 2. Kenai, McGlasson (Gabriel), 8:25; 3. Kenai, Cronkhite (Dukowitz, Fusaro), 9:56; 4. Colony, Breck (Pulczinski), 10:23; 5. Kenai, Dukowitz (Eubank), 12:20. Penalties Colony 1 for 2:00; Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Second period 6. Kenai, Howell (Gabriel), 5:45; 7. Kenai, Dukowitz (McGlasson, Fusaro), 9:19; 8. Kenai, Brewer (Howell, Ehrhardt), 10:07; 9. Kenai, McGlasson (Fusaro, Dukowitz), 14:54. Penalties Colony 4 for 16:00, Kenai 3 for 6:00.
Third period none. Penalties Colony 1 for 2:00, Kenai 3 for 6:00.
Shots Colony 11-11-830; Kenai 6-20-1238.
Goalies Colony, Nybert (16 shots, 10 saves), Holman (22 shots, 21 saves); Kenai, Baldwin (22 shots, 20 saves), Barrett (8 shots, 8 saves).
MARINERS 3, KNIGHTS 0
Colony 0 0 0 0
Homer 0 2 1 3
First period No scoring. Penalties Colony 2 for 4:00, Homer 2 for 4:00.
Second period 1. Homer, Piper (Satre), 0:52; 2. Homer, Beile (Lewis, Quinn), 1:35. Penalties Colony 1 for 2:00; Homer 5 for 10:00.
Third period 3. Homer, Quance (Pozzi), 2:19. Penalties Colony 6 for 12:00; Homer 6 for 12:00.
Shots on goal Colony 6-12-523; Homer 9-7-420.
Goalies Colony, Nyberg (20 shots, 17 saves); Homer, Miller (23 shots, 23 saves).
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