Soldotna hung with North Star Conference top seed Wasilla for 20 minutes, but the Warriors showed why they're No. 1.
Wasilla pumped in three second-period goals en route to a 5-0 win in the NSC semifinals on Friday at the Soldotna Sports Center.
"We played as hard as we could, but couldn't keep up with them," Stars head coach Aaron Swanson said. "We knew Wasilla was going to be tough. They came out and proved it to us."
"I was really pleased with the effort," Warriors head coach Bill Sturdevant said. "I liked the pressure that we put on Soldotna."
Wasilla made the trip to the Kenai Peninsula on Wednesday night to practice playing on the Soldotna Sports Center's Olympic-size ice. Traveling two days prior to its first NSC tournament game settled his team, Sturdevant said.
"We just wanted to make sure everybody was ready," he said. "I think the kids were relaxed and focused."
After a scoreless first period, Wasilla's Dylan McRee started the scoring about five minutes into the second. Just 23 seconds after Josh Harvey was penalized for high sticking, McRee skated into the Stars zone. He made a move around SoHi defeseman Nick Pokryfki, cut across the crease to his left and slid a shot past Stars net minder Dawson Pearson.
SoHi then went on the man advantage. But Wasilla's Trent Wohlers spoiled the power play with a short-handed goal. Wohlers came down the right side of the ice. As he approached the net, Wohlers roofed a shot past Pearson.
The Warriors added another goal two minutes later. In SoHi's zone, Wasilla's Mike Edwards won the draw to defenseman Daniel Locke. Locke let a slap shot go from the point. It sailed into the upper corner of the goal.
One of Wasilla's goals all season has been to play below the dots in opposing team's zones, Sturdevant said. They achieved that goal against SoHi.
"I liked the way we controlled the puck deep in Soldotna's zone," Sturdevant said.
Just over five minutes into the third period, an unlucky bounce went against the Stars. After Pearson made a save on Zach Korsmo, a host of Warriors and Stars surrounded the net. The Stars attempted to clear the puck but it deflected off of a SoHi player and into the goal.
"It's those little things that make the difference," Swanson said. "Tonight, those bounces went their way and not ours."
Wasilla's Jeremiah Walker capped the scoring off with three minutes left in the game. With a delayed penalty called on SoHi, the Warriors pulled Yaskus. They worked the puck around and found Walker in the slot and he buried a shot past Pearson.
"All around from top to bottom, we're real pleased with the effort," Sturdevant said.
The loss ended SoHi's season, but a majority of the team will be back next year as only four seniors were on the roster.
"This was a big building year for us," Swanson said. "All in all, we had a good season."
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