The Kenai Central High School hockey team overcame a sluggish start to defeat Lathrop 6-2 in the consolation bracket of the Alaska School Activities Association State 4A Hockey Championships to advance to Saturday's fourth-place game.
"We kind of came out flat and were making some mental mistakes," said Kenai coach Brian Gabriel. "I think there was a little bit of lingering fatigue."
If the Kardinals were a little bit drained entering Friday's game, it would be understandable after having their hearts ripped out in the final second of their opening-round game, a loss to West.
But the Kardinals were able to pull it together, and by the end of the second period Kenai had a four-goal lead over the Malemutes.
"We were kind of feeling down," said Kenai's Daniel Christianson. "It was kind of an early game, so we were still a little tired, and we were bummed out about the loss.
"I think the whole team feels a lot better (after winning). We've got a chance at fourth."
The performance of Christianson and his linemates, Phillip Ischi and Charlie Smith, also should have the Kardinals feeling good. That line had a hand in four of Kenai's six goals Friday, as well as all four of Kenai's goals in Thursday's game.
"During the middle of the season coach switched up the lines. We just got back together," Christianson said. "We've been trying to make everything work, and it's been working pretty good."
Lathrop potted the first goal Friday, catching the Kardinals changing lines, but Kenai came back to tie the game on a slap shot from the point by C.J. Henley assisted by Smith and Christianson for a power-play goal 10:08 into the period.
Micah Lillard gave the Kardinals their first lead of the game 33 seconds later, assisted by Michael Drobnick, but Lathrop's Jonathon Brush tied the game with a nifty bit of stickhandling just before the first intermission.
The Kardinals were all business after the break, though, scoring four goals in the second period to put the game away.
Christianson scored twice in the period and assisted on another goal, Jonathon Smith had a goal and two assists, Cory Johnson had an unassisted goal and Charlie Smith and Henley notched assists for the Kardinals.
Garrett Myers made 18 saves in goal for Kenai.
"It was a pretty fun game for the boys," Gabriel said. "Everybody got in the game. It was a good, solid effort from everybody."
KARDINALS 6, MALEMUTES 2
Kenai 2 4 0 6
Lathrop 2 0 0 2
First period 1. Lathrop, Harshman (Durdik), 5:53; 2. Kenai, Henley (C. Smith, D. Christianson), 10:08 pp; 3. Kenai, Lillard (Drobnick), 10:41; 4. Lathrop, J. Bradish (unassisted), 12:47. Penalties Kenai 1 for 2:00, Lathrop 1 for 2:00.
Second period 5. Kenai, D. Christianson (J. Smith, Henley), 1:20; 6. Kenai, J. Smith (C. Smith, D. Christianson), 3:33 pp; 7. Kenai, Johnson (unassisted), 6:49; 8. Kenai, D. Christianson (J. Smith), 14:52 sh. Penalties Kenai 1 for 5:00, Lathrop 1 for 2:00.
Third period none. Penalties Kenai 3 for 6:00, Lathrop 4 for 8:00.
Shots Kenai 9-11-1131, Lathrop 10-4-620.
Goalies Kenai, Myers (20 shots, 18 saves); Lathrop, Fisher (31 shots, 25 saves).
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