The Wasilla hockey team needed less than a minute to turn a one-goal deficit into a Northstar Conference victory on the road.
The Warriors scored two goals in a span of 34 seconds in the second period to beat Kenai Central 2-1 Friday night at the Soldotna Sports Center. The Kardinals rebounded a night later, defeating Colony 5-1 on the same ice.
"We played OK, but our mental breakdowns cost us," Kenai Central coach Pete Iverson said of Friday's loss. "They came out on fire in the second period and we just couldn't get it going."
Kenai Central did get it going in the first, taking a 1-0 lead midway through the period when junior forward Zack Zulkanycz finished an assist from Zack Mese. Zulkanycz fired a wrister from the left wing, sending the puck past the left arm of Wasilla goaltender Rhys Jones, who finished with 28 saves on 29 shots.
The Kards had control of the game until early in the second period.
With 10:49 to go in the second, the Warriors tied the game at 1 on a bang-bang play in which Zach Korsmo took a pass from Michael Johnston and sent the puck by Kenai Central goalie Keegan Remsen.
Less than a minute later, Wasilla turned the tie into a lead thanks to a goal from Brett Keene, who found the back of the net on a rebound. Dylan Mcree and Chancie Hanson were credited with assists.
Iverson said the Kards had a defensive breakdown during the 30-second exchange and lost confidence following the swing.
"We made a couple mistakes and started getting down on ourselves, which stifles the momentum a little more," he said. "We've got to have more resolve -- plain and simple."
"Hopefully we'll take that away from this game. They gained the momentum and we never got it back."
Jones was nearly perfect in goal for the Warriors, who were the aggressors -- at least in the second and third periods -- on both ends of the ice.
Kenai Central managed two shots inside the final minute after pulling its goalie, but Jones saved them both.
"They were on us, they were attacking, they had pressure on the puck carrier every time, every second," Iverson said. "They were beating us into our own zone. They were floor-checking very strong and it worked well for them."
The Kards host Homer at 5:45 p.m. Thursday and Soldotna at 7:45 p.m. Friday.
Warriors 2, Kardinals 1
Wasilla 0 2 0 --2
Kenai Central 1 0 0 --1
First period -- 1. Kenai Central, Zulkancyz (Mese), pp, 6:14. Penalties -- Wasilla 3 for 6:00; Kenai Central none.
Second period -- 2. Wasilla, Korsmo (Hanson, Johnston), 4:11; 3. Wasilla, Keene (Hanson, Mcree), 4:45. Penalties -- Wasilla 2 for 4:00; Kenai Central none.
Third period -- Penalties -- Wasilla 3 for 6:00; Kenai Central 4 for 8:00.
Shots on goal -- Wasilla 7-20-5--32; Kenai Central 12-8-9--29.
Goalies -- Jones (29 shots, 28 saves); Remsen (32 shots, 30 saves).
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