Kenai Central High School's first goal of its Alaska School Activities Association State 4A Hockey Championship opening-round game against East High School went according to plan -- a tight forecheck created a turnover in the Thunderbirds' zone and the Kardinals were able to take advantage with a score.
Unfortunately for the Kardinals, that goal came with seven seconds left in the second period, after East already had seven goals, including two short-handed tallies, on the board.
East scored four more goals in the final period for an 11-1 win.
"We had our chances but we couldn't bury them," Kenai coach Brian Gabriel Sr. said. "If we bury a couple of those early chances, maybe it's a different game, but you let in one or two soft goals and it takes the wind out of your sails."
The Thunderbirds drew first blood, beating Kenai goaltender Steven Campanella 6:09 into the first period. After a series of close calls for both teams, East's Chris Smith collected a loose puck in the Kenai zone, deked a defender in the slot and slid a low shot past the Kenai goalie.
The Thunderbirds made it a 2-0 lead before the first intermission when Stephen Van Ness scored at the tail end of an East power play.
Van Ness found the puck on his stick after Campanella turned aside a shot and was able to beat the Kenai goalie with a wraparound shot before Campanella could recover to the other side of the net.
Chris Jones scored for East just 55 seconds into the second period, and Jared Baldwin made it 4-0 for the Thunderbirds 1:04 later with a hard slapshot from the point.
Eric Walsky netted a short-handed goal at 6:51 of the second period, taking a pass from Smith after a turnover in the Kenai zone.
Corey Jones poked home a rebound off a hard shot Campanella couldn't cover up with 3:52 left in the second period, and Smith netted a short-handed goal with 1:33 left in the period on a shot that skipped off a Kenai defenseman's stick.
Kenai got some momentum going with its goal in the closing seconds of the second period. Kenai defenseman Brian Gabriel Jr. knocked the puck loose as East attempted to break out of its zone, then worked a give-and-go with Wally Ward. Gabriel Jr.'s centering pass went off the stick of a Thunderbirds defender and into the goal.
"It was one of those goals where we work hard and things happen," Ward said. "Brian pinched down, knocked the puck back in the zone and everybody else had left. I picked it up, he called for it and I hit him right in stride."
The momentum the goal created dissipated during the second intermission, though, and East got goals from Chris Smith and Eric Walsky in the first two minutes of the third period to put the game away.
Nick Byers and Van Ness also scored for the Thunderbirds in the final period.
Campanella faced 27 shots, and while he was able to get to many of them, the Thunderbirds were able to get plenty of second chances on rebounds.
"When you get to this tournament, you have to have rock-solid goaltending," Gabriel Sr. said. "... East handled the puck well in their own zone. They seemed to have a guy in the right spot all the time. We kind of abandoned our goaltender at times and made him the Lone Ranger with guys jumping up and pushing a little bit."
East advances to face Service today in an all-Anchorage semifinals round. The Thunderbirds and the Cougars face off at 7 p.m.
The Kardinals will play Lathrop in the 1 p.m. consolation semifinal.
"I think this was a good wake-up call," Ward said. "I think we were a little too content with beating Soldotna and just being here."
THUNDERBIRDS 11, KARDINALS 1
Kenai 0 1 0 -- 1
East 2 5 4 -- 11
First period -- 1. East, C. Smith (unassisted), 6:09; 2. East, S. Van Ness (Sherman, J. Smith), 10:10 (pp). Penalties -- Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Second period -- 3. East, Ch. Jones (C. Smith), 0:55; 4. East, Baldwin (Walsky, S. Van Ness), 1:59. 5. East, Walsky (C. Smith), 6:51 (sh); 6. East, Co. Jones (J. Smith, M. Van Ness), 11:08; 7. East, C. Smith (unassisted), 13:27 (sh); 8. Kenai, Gabriel Jr. (Ward), 14:53. Penalties -- Kenai 1 for 2:00, East 4 for 8:00.
Third period -- 9. East, C. Smith (Ch. Jones), 0:40; 10. East, Walsky (J. Smith), 1:40; 11. East, Byers (Luiten), 7:10 (pp); 12. East, S. Van Ness (Walsky), 14:00. Penalties -- Kenai 4 for 8:00, East 3 for 16:00.
Chugiak 4, Colony 1
The Colony Knights netted the first goal of the game, but the rest of the scoring belonged to the Chugiak Mustangs in the tournament opener.
Joey Guild scored for the Knights in the first period. Chugiak's Josh Curry answered with an unassisted tally in the second period while Kyle Finch. Jason Johnson and Ryan Armstrong tallied for the Mustangs in the third period.
Brian Wnetrzak stopped 29 shots to earn the win for the Mustangs. Greg Strohmeyer made 29 saves for the Knights.
Chugiak will meet Dimond in today's 4 p.m. semifinal while Colony faces West Valley in the 10 a.m. consolation semifinal.
MUSTANGS 4, KNIGHTS 1
Chugiak 0 1 3 -- 4
Colony 1 0 0 -- 1
First period -- 1. Colony, Guild (unassisted), 4:13. Penalties -- Chugiak 1 for 2:00, Colony 2 for 4:00.
Second period -- 2. Chugiak, Curry (unassisted), 1:02. Penalties -- none.
Third period -- 3. Chugiak, Finch (Curry, Pennington), 7:54; 4. Chugiak, Johnson (Finch, B. Gallagher), 13:29; 5. Chugiak, Armstrong (Johnson), 14:09. Penalties -- Chugiak 2 for 4:00, Colony 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal -- Chugiak 15-8-10--33, Colony 11-7-12--30.
Goalies -- Chugiak, Wnetrak (30 shots, 29 saves); Colony, G. Strohmeyer (33 shots, 29 saves).
Dimond 3, West Valley 1
The Wolfpack was able to hang with the Lynx through two and a half periods, but Josh Sorenson and Adam Shaw tallied third-period goals to propel Dimond to the semifinals.
While the Wolfpack managed 11 shots on the Lynx goal, West Valley goalie Billy St. Pierre stopped 37 of the 40 Dimond shots he faced to keep his side in the game.
Dimond's Michael Lauver scored 1:46 into the game, but Terry Aldridge netted the equalizer for the Wolfpack 4:56 into the third period.
Dimond will face Chugiak in today's 4 p.m. semifinal while West Valley plays Colony in the 10 a.m. consolation semifinal.
LYNX 3, WOLFPACK 1
West Valley 0 0 1 -- 1
Dimond 1 0 2 -- 3
First period -- 1. Dimond, Lauver (Waldrop, Thompson), 13:14. Penalties -- West Valley 1 for 2:00, Dimond 1 for 2:00.
Second period -- no scoring. Penalties -- West Valley 2 for 4:00, Dimond 2 for 4:00.
Third period -- 2. West Valley, Aldridge (Winkelman), 4:56; 3. Dimond, Sorenson (Waldrop, Lovdahl), 6:48; 4. Dimond, Shaw (Kenmorer, Stralka), 9:23. Penalties -- West Valley 4 for 8:00, Dimond 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal -- West Valley 5-1-5--11, Dimond 12-13-15--40.
Goalies -- West Valley, St. Pierre (40 shots, 37 saves); Dimond, Mattison (11 shots, 10 saves).
Service 8, Lathrop 0
Michael Ramierz netted a hat trick and Ryan Hakkinen scored two goals as the Cougars opened the tournament with a shutout win over Lathrop.
Service goalie Bradley Luneby made 10 saves for the win. Kyle Spear got the start in goal for Lathrop, but was replaced midway through the second period by Togi Letwigasenoa. The pair combined to make 40 saves, including 20 by Letwigasenoa in the final period.
Dane Smulick, Tony St. John and Peter Cartwright also potted goals for the Cougars.
COUGARS 8, MALEMUTES 0
Service 2 4 2 -- 8
Lathrop 0 0 0 -- 0
First period -- 1. Service, Smulick (Ramierz), 1:56; 2. Service, Hakkinen (Bales, Bundy), 4:54. Penalties -- Lathrop 1 for 2:00.
Second period -- 3. Service, St. John (Mazzolini, Guthrie), 0:23; 4. Service, Hakkinen (Bales, Cartwright), 5:00 (pp); 5. Service, Cartwright (unassisted), 6:12; 6. Service, Ramierz (Canter, Volmer), 6:49. Penalties -- Service 2 for 4:00, Lathrop 3 for 6:00.
Third period -- 7. Service, Ramierz (Kovacevich), 8:03. 8. Service, Ramierz (Smulick), 13:09. Penalties -- Service 2 for 4:00, Lathrop 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal -- Service 10-16-22--48, Lathrop 2-6-2--10.
Goalies -- Service, Lundeby (10 shots, 10 saves); Lathrop, Spear, Letwigasenoa (48 shots, 40 saves).
Greatland Hockey Conference Tournament
The Nikiski Bulldogs opened up the Greatland Hickey Conference tournament with a 9-1 loss to Delta Junction Thursday at Brett Memorial Ice Arena in Wasilla.
Todd Brigham scored the lone goal for the Bulldogs, assisted by Brad Harrison and Josh Pepper.
Nigel Penhale and Jonathan Parnell combined to stop 33 of the 42 Delta shots they faced.
Nikiski will play Monroe in today's 2 p.m. consolation semifinal.
In other Greatland Conference Championship tournament games, Hawker Van Bebber scored with 22 seconds left in the game to give the Tri-Valley Viking Warriors an 8-7 win over the Glennallen Panthers and Cody Oatman had a goal and an assist in Kenny Lake's 4-1 victory over Monroe.
HUSKIES 9, BULLDOGS 1
Nikiski 0 1 0 -- 1
Delta Junction 2 4 3 -- 9
First period -- 1. Delta, Schultz (unassisted), 5:48 (sh); 2. Delta, Hannon (unassisted), 14:48. Penalties -- Delta 1 for 2:00.
Second period -- 3. Delta, Wingfield (Hannon, Schultz), 1:15 (pp); 4. Nikiski, Brigham (Harrison, Pepper), 3:47; 5. Delta, Schultz (Hebert, White), 7:06 (sh); 6. Delta, Wingfield (unassisted), 10:23 (sh); 7. Delta, Wingfield (unassisted), 10:34. Penalties -- Nikiski 5 for 10:00, Delta 5 for 10:00.
Third period -- 8. Delta, Hannon (Knight, Geise), 6:41; 9. Delta, Wingfield (Hannon), 9:59; 10. Delta, Schultz (unassisted), 10:50. Penalties -- Nikiski 1 for 2:00, Delta 3 for 16:00.
Shots on goal -- Nikiski 3-3-4--10, Delta 16-17-9--42.
Goalies -- Nikiski, Penhale, Parnell (42 shots, 33 saves); Delta, Riesgaard (10 shots, 9 saves).
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