Kenai's Karli Knudsen nailed an 8-footer with about 10 seconds left to hand the host Kardinals a 43-42 nonconference victory over Ninilchik Tuesday.
After Knudsen's tally, the Wolverines had two chances to win the game. Their initial bid at the game winner became lodged between the backboard and rim with two seconds remaining.
However, Ninilchik got the ball back because the possession arrow was pointed in its direction. Theresa Chihuly had a shot underneath the bucket, but the Kardinals turned it away.
"We didn't come ready to play, and they came ready to play," Kenai girls coach Jim Beeson said. "Even though we didn't play very well, what I liked was at the end of the game we found a way to win."
The game matched two of the peninsula's most acclaimed teams. Kenai (15-3) was ranked seventh in Class 3-4A in the latest prep poll, while Ninilchik (18-2) was the top-ranked team in Class 1-2A.
Ninilchik's only other loss this year also came to the Kardinals, a 49-33 decision Dec. 18.
"Ninilchik's a good basketball team," Beeson said. "They play good defense, they have scorers and they do the little things.
"They would be competitive in our region and it showed tonight."
The Kardinals led most of the game, but Ninilchik took a four-point lead with under four minutes to play. However, Kenai was able to claw back for a win.
Kardinals senior Cory Hershberger led all scorers with 15 points, while Jamie Montgomery added 10. Beeson also noted the six-point effort of post player Wendi Polak, which was important because starting forward Erica Shinn sat out with a sprained ankle.
Ninilchik coach Dan Leman, who received 13 points each from Chihuly and Whitney Leman, said the loss would be a valuable lesson.
"I told them before the game that whether we win or lose, the reason we play this game is we want to be a better team when it's all said and done," Leman said. "I think this game made us a better team."
The coach was particularly pleased with the way his team, which was dominated on the boards in mid-December by the Kards, rebounded Tuesday.
"We also have scrimmages with Homer and Nikiski in the next two weeks, and we have two games before regions," Leman said. "That's going to make us really tough."
KARDINALS GIRLS 43, WOLVERINES 42
Ninilchik 5 12 12 13 --42
Kenai 6 17 8 12 --43
NINILCHIK (42) -- T. Leman 2 2-5 6, Hansen 0 0-0 0, W. Leman 3 7-10 13, Russo 0 0-0 0, Chihuly 4 5-7 13, Moerlein 0 0-0 0, Bosick 4 0-1 8, Sullivan 1 0-0 2. Totals -- 14 14-23 42.
KENAI (43) -- Kr. Knudsen 0 0-0 0, Ka. Knudsen 3 0-0 6, Reilly 1 0-3 2, Montgomery 5 0-0 10, Hershberger 6 1-3 15, Arbelovsky 1 2-2 4, Edwards 0 0-0 0, Stewart 0 0-0 0, Polak 2 2-2 6, Canady 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 18 5-10 43.
3-point goals -- Hershberger 2. Total fouls -- Ninilchik 14, Kenai 23. Fouled out -- none.
Seward boys 78, Heritage 42
Ryan Lewis bombed the Eagles with five 3-pointers as the host Seahawks picked up the easy District 3/3A victory.
Seward, which led 27-7 after the first quarter, was paced by 15 points each from Lewis and Clint Draper. John Hamilton added 11 for the Seahawks.
Heritage's Joel Pennington led all scorers with 19 points, while Josh Crowe chipped in 13.
SEAHAWKS BOYS 78, EAGLES 42
Heritage 7 9 10 16 --42
Seward 27 21 12 18 --78
HERITAGE (42) -- Chronister 0 0-0 0, Crowe 4 4-4 13, Pennington 6 5-7 19, Gunther 1 3-3 5, Perkins 0 1-2 1, Millar 2 0-0 4.
SEWARD (78) --Draper 5 4-4 15, Bartlett 1 0-0 2, Lewis 5 0-0 15, Hamilton 4 1-1 11, Elhard 0 0-0 0, Swiderski 3 0-0 6, Eastman 1 2-2 5, Varnell 4 0-0 8, Davis 1 1-2 3, Loomis 2 0-0 5, Blankenship 4 0-0 8.
3-point goals -- Lewis 5, Pennington 2, Hamilton 2, Crowe, Draper, Eastman, Loomis. Total fouls -- Heritage 9, Seward 14. Fouled out -- none.
BYLINE1:By WILL MORROW
The Peninsula Chinooks finally got a collar on the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
After dropping 17 games to Fairbanks over the past two seasons, the Chinooks came through with a 3-2 win in Western States Hockey League Junior B action Tuesday at the Soldotna Sports Center.
Tuesday's win followed Monday's 5-4 loss to the Ice Dogs in which the Chinooks tied the game up with 1:08 left in the game, but coughed up a goal to Fairbanks with 32 seconds to play.
"Last night, we put some fear in them," said Chinooks goaltender Daren Tracey following Tuesday's win. "Tonight, they're going home doubting themselves.
"They're leaving knowing they're lucky to get two points."
Tracey stopped 34 shots in Monday's loss, but the Ice Dogs scored the game winner, a tally by Petteri Pitko, on a rebound after Tracey's initial save. Tracey was determined not to let that happen again.
"I didn't feel like I had a good game (Monday) night. I felt like I blew it myself," Tracey said. "I knew I had to show up today."
Tracey was rock solid for Tuesday's game, stopping 36 shots for the win.
"My plan wasn't to start (Tracey)," Chinooks coach and general manager Paddy Flynn said. "I was going to split the game between (backup goalies) Nick (Wirz) and Kenny (Bishop).
"Daren was half in and half not in the game last night, and I didn't want to go into the playoffs with him feeling down on himself."
The Peninsula offense, meanwhile, was up and running, creating chance after chance with hard work in front of the Fairbanks netminder Greg Palmer.
Jeb Thompson scored what proved to be the game winner with 7:36 left to play in the second period, assisted by Joe Shaughnessy and Mike McIntosh.
Thompson scored on a Chinooks power play at 12:24 of the second period. Dustin Curley initiated the scoring play, penetrating the Ice Dogs defense from the left circle. Palmer stopped Curley's shot, but the Chinooks got several whacks at the rebound and Jeb Thompson was able to knock it home for a 3-0 Peninsula lead.
"I went in hacking away," Thompson said of his drive to the net. "I saw the puck loose, and the last whack got it. That's why you go to the goal with your stick on the ice."
Fairbanks made it interesting, netting a power play goal late in the second period and then cutting the Peninsula lead to one, pulling the goalie for the extra skater with just over a minute left.
The Ice Dogs went on the power play, giving them a six skaters-to-four advantage, and Carl Saltz found the back of the net, poking the puck out from underneath Tracey, who thought he had the puck smothered.
"I'm glad for Carl," Flynn said. Flynn initially recruited the Soldotna native to play for the Chinooks.
"He went to Fairbanks in a quirky trade, but it's been the best move for Carl. He's thrived up there. He took a couple of runs at our goaltender -- I'm sure that's part of the (Ice Dogs') game plan.
"Had he stayed here, local influences would have hurt his game. As much as people would love to have him at home, he's in a good program where he is, though it didn't show the same kind of class tonight that it usually does."
Tracey and Saltz got tangled up on several occasions, both in front of and in the Chinooks net.
"That's playoff hockey," Tracey said of his scrapes with Saltz. "He's a hard worker, but with the playoffs coming up, we're not going to give him any respect."
The Chinooks slipped the choker chain around the Ice Dogs neck goal in the first period.
After putting several good shots on net during a five-on-three power play but failing to come away with a goal, the Peninsula squad caught Palmer in no-man's land with 2:31 left in the period.
Chinooks' Tim Flanders outskated the Fairbanks defense for a long clear down in the Ice Dogs zone, and when Palmer left his crease to attempt to clear, Dustin Every anticipated the play and picked the puck off the boards just inside the Fairbanks blue line with an empty net to shoot at.
"I was looking for it," Every said. "You know when he's out of his crease like that, he's going to try to do something with the puck. I've done that three or four times this year, but I've never gotten enough wood on it to put it on goal."
The Chinooks gave the choker a yank in the second period, netting a goal just a minute in.
Leif Swanson played the puck ahead to his brother Aaron breaking across the Fairbanks blue line. The play drifted to the corner, where Aaron was able to knock it free and slide it in front of the Ice Dogs net. Leif followed the play to the net and was in position to poke the puck five-hole on Palmer.
The victory proved to be a Pyhrric one, though. Chinooks leading scorer Dustin Curley and top defenseman Dan Fagan both left the game via ambulance to get X-rays. Curley has a severe injury to his thumb and Fagan, who scored a hat trick Monday, likely has broken ribs, leaving Flynn shaking his head as the Chinooks prepare to face the Ice Dogs in Fairbanks this weekend in the opening round of the playoffs.
"It's bittersweet," Flynn said. "Our guys worked hard and capitalized on some opportunities, but we may have lost our two best players."
The Chinooks will leave for Fairbanks following a practice session this afternoon. The first three games of a best-of-five series are scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
CHINOOKS 3, ICE DOGS 2
Fairbanks 0 1 1 --2
Peninsula 1 2 0 --3
First period -- 1. Peninsula, Every (Flanders), 17:29. Penalties -- Fairbanks 7 for 27:00, Peninsula 6 for 15:00.
Second period -- 2. Peninsula, L. Swanson (A. Swanson), 1:00; 3. Peninsula, Thompson (J. Shaughnessy, McIntosh), 12:24 PPG; 4. Fairbanks, Ward (Jusczak), 13:19 PPG. Penalties -- Fairbanks 6 for 17:00, Peninsula 5 for 17:00.
Third period -- 5. Fairbanks, Saltz (unassisted), 18:58 PPG. Penalties -- Fairbanks 4 for 8:00, Peninsula 5 for 10:00.
Shots on goal -- Fairbanks 7-23-8--38, Peninsula 5-9-4--18.
Goalies -- Fairbanks, Palmer (18 shots, 15 saves); Tracey (38 shots, 36 saves).
ICE DOGS 5, CHINOOKS 4
Fairbanks 1 0 4 --5
Peninsula 2 0 2 --4
First period -- 1. Peninsula, McIntosh (J. Shaughnessy), 2:33 SHG; 2. Fairbanks, Weese (Pitko, Ward), 12:53 PPG; 3. Peninsula, Fagan (Curley, Prior), 17:04 PPG. Penalties -- Fairbanks 5 for 10:00, Peninsula 3 for 6:00.
Second period -- no scoring. Penalties -- Fairbanks 9 for 27:00, Peninsula 9 for 27:00.
Third period -- 4. Fairbanks, Anderson (Weese), 3:40 PPG; 5. Peninsula, Fagan (Prior), 7:42 PPG; 6. Fairbanks, Ward (Bennett, Anderson), 11:03 PPG; 7. Fairbanks, Weese (unassisted), 15:36; 8. Peninsula, Fagan (Curley, Prior), 18:52; 9. Fairbanks, Pitko (Weese), 19:28. Penalties -- Fairbanks 4 for 8:00, Peninsula 6 for 12:00.
Shots on goal -- Fairbanks 7-9-23--39, Peninsula 7-9-13--29.
Goalies -- Fairbanks, Bartusch (29 shots, 25 saves); Peninsula, Tracey (39 shots, 35 saves).
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