Through almost two periods of play, the Skyview High School hockey team had an answer for everything the Kenai Central squad threw at it.
The Kardinals had the final answer, though, pulling away from the Panthers with a goal in the closing minute of the second period and one more in the third period for a 5-3 North Star Conference victory Thursday at the Soldotna Sports Center.
"I've got to give credit to (Skyview coach) Pete Iverson -- that team is skating hard," said Kenai coach Brian Gabriel Sr. "The improvement is tremendous."
Kenai's Adrian Borchgrevink made sure the Kardinals had the final say, though, scoring four goals and assisting on another.
"When I'm getting the shots, I feel more confident with the puck," Borchgrevink said. " The more shots I get, the more goals I score.
"My passing was a little bit off tonight -- that's why (Owen) Brewer didn't score."
Brewer and Borchgrevink set up Phillip Ischi for Kenai's first goal of the night at 8:24 of the first period. Brewer's pass from the right circle found Ischi moving into the slot for an easy redirect on net.
Skyview answered just 1:12 later, though, when Joel Christianson scored a power-play goal on a slap shot from the point.
Brewer and Brandon Fortney set up Borchgrevink for a wrist shot from the slot with 52 seconds left in the first period to give Kenai a 2-1 lead, but Skyview again responded with a goal 17 seconds later when Lukas Fellman finished off an odd-man rush by poking the puck home.
Kenai changed up goalies to start the second period, inserting Fortney for Scott Kornfield, and the Kardinals found the back of the net 2:52 into the period on the power play. Borchgrevink was able find the back of the net after several attempts on goal never made it through all the congestion in front of the net. Cory Janson assisted on the play.
"I can only remember one goal where we were able to walk right up the middle," Gabriel Sr. said. "Everything else was clogged up."
In fact, a majority of Kenai's shots never made it on net, instead ricocheting off defenders, and most of those that did get through were handled by goalie Kyle Kay.
"He's becoming the backbone of the team," Iverson said. "We've put him in a position where he's having to mature quickly."
Kay finished with 28 saves for the Panthers.
With Kay holding the fort, the Panthers were able to answer the Kardinals one more time at 5:01 of the second period. Fellman got his second goal of the night, popping the puck past Fortney. Christianson assisted on the play.
Kenai finally went ahead for good on a power-play goal with 18 seconds to go until the second intermission. After another series of saves by Kay, Borchgrevink collected the puck, skated behind the Skyview goal and carried it out in front of the net before unleashing a wrist shot.
Brewer and Brian Gabriel Jr. assisted on the play.
Borchgrevink gave the Kardinals a two-goal cushion at 11:14 of the third period, converting a pass from Brewer with a one-time shot from the right circle for a power-play goal.
"We weren't really hitting that much at the beginning of the game," Borchgrevink said. "It started picking up slowly. When we started hitting, that started opening up some gaps."
Gabriel Sr. was pleased to see his seniors -- Kevin Oberg, Wally Ward, Billy Forrest, Kornfield, Fortney and Gabriel Jr. -- play well on senior night.
"I want to personally thank all of the seniors," Gabriel Sr. said.
Kenai faces Soldotna at 8:15 p.m. today at the Soldotna Sports Center. The Panthers get their crack at the Stars Saturday at 8:30 p.m. following Kenai's regular-season finale against Homer at 6:15 p.m.
KARDINALS 5, PANTHERS 3
Skyview 2 1 0 -- 3
Kenai 2 2 1 -- 5
First period -- 1. Kenai, Ischi (Brewer, Borchgrevink), 8:26; 2. Skyview, J. Christianson (unassisted), 9:38 (pp); 3. Kenai, Borchgrevink (Brewer, Fortney), 14:08; 4. Skyview, L. Fellman (unassisted), 14:25. Penalties -- Skyview 1 for 2:00, Kenai 2 for 4:00.
Second period -- 5. Kenai, Borchgrevink (Janson), 2:52 (pp); 6. Skyview, L. Fellman (J. Christianson), 5:01; 7. Kenai, Borchgrevink (Brewer, Gabriel Jr.), 14:42 (pp). Penalties -- Skyview 9 for 26:00, Kenai 3 for 6:00.
Third period -- 8. Kenai, Borchgrevink (Brewer), 11:14 (pp). Penalties -- Skyview 3 for 6:00, Kenai 6 for 12:00.
Shots -- Skyview 7-2-5--14, Kenai 9-13-11--33.
Goalies -- Skyview, Kay (33 shots, 28 saves); Kenai, Kornfield (7 shots, 5 saves), Fortney (7 shots, 6 saves).
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