Sometimes you get the bear. Other times, the Bears get you.
The Bartlett Golden Bears got the jump on the Soldotna High School hockey team Friday in the consolation bracket of the ASAA State Hockey Championship tournament, ending Soldotna's season by handing the Stars a 6-0 loss.
"We gave up a couple of early goals," said Soldotna coach John Carlin. "That's been a backbreaker for teams in this tournament."
Bartlett took a 1-0 lead with a power play goal 5:31 into the game. The Golden Bears made it 2-0 with 6:26 left in the period with an even-strength goal after a puck flung toward the Soldotna net bounced of goalie Kelly Gee's chest and landed at Bartlett forward Ben Froehle's feet.
While neither goal was particularly breathtaking, it was enough to put the Stars in a hole in a game in which they needed bounces to go their way just to stay even.
"Our defense played pretty good, but our forwards have had a hard time putting the puck in the net all season," Carlin said. "Four pucks and we were out of it. If we can keep it to under four, we've got a chance."
Soldotna struggled through the second period, spending too much time killing penalties to muster much of an attack.
"The third period was fun, and the first period wasn't too bad, but the second period is where we fell apart," Carlin said. "We needed all three lines working together, and today we had one."
The Bears netted three goals in the second period, two of them on the power play, to put the game out of reach.
David Koch scored with the man advantage, Ryan Stattner netted his second of the game with the Bears two players up, and Jamie Schwartz added an even-strength goal to close out the period.
"We kept fighting, but we were sitting in the penalty box too long," Soldotna senior Joey Newby said.
Soldotna regrouped to finish the game with their heads up and, Carlin hoped, a little bit of fun.
"In the third period, we said, 'Let's go out and have some fun,'" Carlin said. "That's what the game is meant to be. If you can't have fun at some point, you can lose sight of what you're trying to do.
"Memories will carry you forever, and these guys should be proud."
And the Stars do have plenty to be proud of. Seniors Newby, Peter Mersch and Todd Hansen have been with the Stars for four consecutive trips to the state tournament, while Elliott Neese has been with the team for the past two seasons.
"We had a good season," Hansen said. "We did pretty good for having the team that we have."
Having just four seniors on the roster means that plenty of underclassmen will have tournament experience the next time around. Carlin was pleased to see his second line -- junior John Gleason, sophomore Anthony Murray and freshman Sam Tikka -- making some noise against some tough competition.
"When these kids come back to state, the spookiness and shakiness will be something they've already dealt with," Carlin said. "That's part of the battle, getting freshman to realize they're big enough and durable enough to go up against the best teams in the state.
"When you take a brave stand, everyone's spine stiffens. When you've got a peanut stepping it up and going hard against bigger players, everyone else on the team takes notice."
GOLDEN BEARS 6, STARS 0
Soldotna 0 0 0 --0
Bartlett 2 3 1 --6
First period -- 1. Bartlett, Stattner (Larson, Howard), 5:31 PPG; 2. Bartlett, Froehle (Kennedy, Larson), 8:34. Penalties -- Soldotna 1 for 2:00, Bartlett 1 for 2:00.
Second period -- 3. Bartlett, Koch (Larson, Stattner), 3:51 PPG; 4. Bartlett, Stattner (Larson, Koch), 9:35 PPG; 5. Bartlett, Schwartz (Kennedy), 11:13. Penalties -- Soldotna 6 for 12:00, Bartlett 3 for 6:00.
Third period -- 6. Bartlett, Bowden (Stattner, Howard), 13:27 PPG. Penalties -- Soldotna 1 for 2:00, Bartlett 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal -- Soldotna 4-5-4--13, Bartlett 12-15-11--38.
Goalies -- Soldotna, Gee (38 shots, 32 saves); Bartlett, Bancroft (13 shots, 13 saves).
Power play opportunities -- Soldotna 0 for 5, Bartlett 4 for 7.
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