The Soldotna High School hockey team won't be leaving a tip after the Service they got in the first round of the ASAA State Hockey Championship tournament Thursday at the Soldotna Sports Center.
The Cougars smothered the Stars breakout, limiting Soldotna to just six shots on goal on their way to serving up a 3-0 win.
"We haven't been putting the puck in the net all year. We're not an offensive powerhouse," said Soldotna coach John Carlin.
Instead, the Stars focused on defense against the Cougars, working a center-ice trap into their game in an attempt to slow down the Service assault.
The trap did slow down the game, though it wasn't necessarily what the Stars had in mind. Instead of starting the rush, Cougars puckhandlers were content to wait behind their own net, slowing the game to standstill during stretches of the second period.
"We tried (the trap). We figured they'd try to break out and slip into it," said Soldotna defenseman Joey Newby. "They just did their own thing. It got to us a little, but then you realize that they think they're one of the better teams in the state, but look at how they're playing."
Service coach Lars Swensen expected a tight game with the Stars and wasn't surprised to see the trap.
"We've been through that several times," Swensen said. "We've practiced breaking the trap and handling the puck. We're not going to do anything to make a mistake."
While the Cougars played not to make the mistake, the Stars suffered a pair of letdowns in the first period that changed the complexion of the game.
The Stars surrendered a goal to the Cougars just as a Soldotna power play expired 5:20 into the game. Soldotna mishandled a puck in its own zone, and Brian Janke, a Service forechecker, pounced on the loose puck and tucked it past Stars goaltender Kelly Gee.
Ryan Hakkinen, a Star-turned-Cougar this season, burned his former team with four seconds left in the period. Gee steered a puck wide of the Soldotna net with a pad save but he couldn't cover it up, and Hakkinen was able to gather the puck and slide it past Gee with a quick backhand shot.
"I think we could've won today, we just had some breakdowns in the first period," said Soldotna forward Elliott Neese.
The Stars kept the Cougars off the board through the second period and put together some good scoring bids themselves, though many of those shots ended up wide of the net.
"A few more shots on goal is always better," said Soldotna senior Todd Hansen. "It's tough when you get outshot like that, but then you look at how many they put in. Kelly did an amazing job for us."
Gee stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced, giving up very few rebounds along the way.
"Kelly was outstanding again," Carlin said. "He's turned into a real leader and he's been a solid goaltender for us."
Timmy Wallace netted the final Service goal at 3:41 of the third period, assisted by Justin Graves and Michael Ramirez.
The loss puts Soldotna into the consolation bracket, where they will face Bartlett, 5-1 losers to West Valley, this morning at 10.
"We played our defensive zone a lot better and we did our forechecking a lot better. We just seem to be doing a lot of things right," Hansen said. "We played Bartlett tight before. We should do all right."
West Valley 5, Bartlett 1
The Wolfpack raced past Bartlett in the tournament's opening game to grab a spot in Friday's semifinals.
"It's been a long time since a peninsula, Fairbanks or Valley team stole a game from one of the top four Anchorage teams," West Valley coach Shawn Lundgren said.
In fact, the Wolfpack is the first team in four seasons to knock off one of the Anchorage schools -- Bartlett, Service, Dimond and Chugiak in this year's edition of the tournament -- to advance to the semifinals.
The Wolfpack netted a pair of goals early in the game. Mike Curry scored 1:48 into the first period, assisted by Adam Toenies, and Chad Georgell made it 2-0 with a goal 2:27 later, assisted by Case Martin and Brian Wood.
Bartlett cut the lead to one with a goal from Ryan Stattner, assisted by Greg Howard and David Koch, with 5:24 in the period, but West Valley put the game out of reach with three goals in the third period.
"I though for the most part, we played a pretty consistent game," Lundgren said. "The big difference in the third period was No. 1, we eliminated the penalties, and No. 2, we buried the puck."
Martin scored a goal and picked up two assists in the third period for the Wolfpack, while Jesse Martin and Adam Powell also tallied.
West Valley was able to open up the game with a well-executed breakout.
"We've got some pretty good speed, and our defensemen have the ability to make a good first pass," Lundgren said. "We utilized the big rink really well."
West Valley will face Service in today's 4 p.m. semifinal.
"I think we can do well as long as we play them at even strength," Wolfpack captain Case Martin said. "(The Anchorage teams) all have a really good power play, and you can't let them get set up."
Dimond 6, Lathrop 0
Aaron Hunter and David Short each potted a pair of goals in the first-round win for the Lynx.
"Any time you can get your seniors to carry the load, it's nice," said Dimond coach Dennis Sorenson. "Aaron has about 30 points this season. David doesn't have as many points, but he's played a lot of roles for us, so it's a bonus for him to pick up two goals."
The Lynx built their momentum slowly. Hunter and Short each scored first-period goals, and Justin Childers added a third Dimond goal early in the second period.
"We knew what we were up against, and we felt if we could get a couple past their goaltender, who's been outstanding, we would have some confidence," Sorenson said.
Lathrop netminder Togi Letuligasenoa stopped 41 of the 47 shots he faced, a bright spot in what Malemutes coach Wayne Sawchuk considered an otherwise lackluster performance.
"Everyone on our team is embarrassed," Sawchuk said. "If they can't come back from a loss like this, they need to pick another sport."
Chugiak 6, Colony 2
The Mustangs scored a pair of goals in the opening minute and five in the first period to stampede past the Colony Knights for a spot in the semifinals.
Powell Gallagher put Chugiak on the board 37 seconds into the game, and Billy Bagron made it 2-0 eight seconds later.
Derek Anderson and Danny Buczak each tallied for the Mustangs before Gallagher notched his second of the game with 2:19 left in the period.
Colony climbed back into contention with a pair of goals late in the second period.
Adam Senta lit the lamp at 13:56 and Seth Reda potted a goal with one second left in the period.
Chugiak's Derek Hall scored the only goal of the third period.
Chugiak advances to face Dimond in today's 7 p.m. semifinal while Colony will meet Lathrop in the consolation bracket at 1 p.m. today.
WOLFPACK 5, GOLDEN BEARS 1
Bartlett 1 0 0 --1
West Valley 2 0 3 --5
First period -- 1. West Valley, Curry (Teonies), 1:48; 2. West Valley, Georgell (C. Martin, B. Wood), 4:15 PPG; 3. Bartlett, Stattner (Howard, Koch), 9:36. Penalties -- Bartlett 2 for 4:00, West Valley 2 for 4:00.
Second period -- no scoring. Penalties -- West Valley 2 for 4:00.
Third period -- 4. West Valley, J. Martin (C. Martin, Georgell), 3:53; 5. West Valley, C. Martin (Georgell), 6:26; 6. West Valley, Powell (C. Martin, L. Wood), 12:50. Penalties -- West Valley 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal -- Bartlett 6-1-11--18, West Valley 7-5-8--20.
Goalies -- Bartlett, Bancroft (20 shots, 15 saves); West Valley, Rogers (18 shots, 17 saves).
Power play opportunities -- Bartlett 0 for 5, West Valley 1 for 2.
COUGARS 3, STARS 0
Soldotna 0 0 0 --0
Service 2 0 1 --3
First period -- 1. Service, Janke (unassisted), 5:20; 2. Service, Hakkinen (unassisted), 14:56. Penalties -- Soldotna 1 for 2:00, Service 2 for 4:00.
Second period -- no scoring. Penalties -- Soldotna 4 for 8:00, Service 5 for 18:00.
Third period -- 3. Service, Wallace (Graves, Ramirez), 3:41. Penalties -- Soldotna 1 for 2:00, Service 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal -- Soldotna 3-2-1--6, Service 11-9-12--32.
Goalies -- Soldotna, Gee (32 shots, 29 saves); Service, Hooyer (6 shots, 6 saves).
Power play opportunities -- Soldotna 0 for 4, Service 0 for 2.
LYNX 6, MALEMUTES 0
Lathrop 0 0 0 --0
Dimond 2 1 3 --6
First period -- 1. Dimond, Short (Stralka, Broller), 4:35; 2. Dimond, Hunter (Jacobson), 7:17. Penalties -- Lathrop 1 for 2:00, Dimond 1 for 2:00.
Second period -- 3. Dimond, Childers (Seaman, Short), 3:19. Penalties -- Lathrop 1 for 2:00, Dimond 2 for 4:00.
Third period -- 4. Dimond, Short (Duggan), 2:18; 5. Dimond, Leamy (Thompson), 12:31; 6. Dimond, Hunter (Lauver), 12:49. Penalties -- Lathrop 4 for 16:00, Dimond 3 for 14:00.
Shots on goal -- Lathrop 3-0-4--7, Dimond 9-16-22--47.
Goalies -- Lathrop, Letuligasenoa (47 shots, 41 saves); Dimond, Ben (7 shots, 7 saves).
Power play opportunities -- Lathrop 0 for 3, Dimond 0 for 3.
MUSTANGS 6, KNIGHTS 2
Chugiak 5 0 1 --6
Colony 0 2 0 --2
First period -- 1. Chugiak, Gallagher, :37; 2. Chugiak, Bagron, :45; 3. Chugiak, Anderson, 6:13; 4. Chugiak, Buczak, 8:09; 5. Chugiak, Gallagher, 12:41. Penalties -- Chugiak 1 for 2:00, Colony 1 for 2:00.
Second period -- 6. Colony, Senta, 13:56; 7. Colony, Reda, 14:59. Penalties -- Chugiak 2 for 4:00.
Third period -- 8. Chugiak, Hall, 13:22. Penalties -- Colony 2 for 4:00.
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