Bartlett's Joe Sutter and Kenai's Charlie Smith battle for the puck in the first period Thursday night during the Peninsula Ice Challenge underway at the Soldotna Sports Center.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The Kenai Central High School hockey team came out strong but focused Thursday, defeating the Bartlett Bears 7-0 on the first day of the Peninsula Ice Challenge at the Soldotna Sports Center.
In the first game of the tournament, West Valley defeated Houston 6-4 on the strength of a hat trick by Brock Kowalchuk.
In Thursday's late game, the Soldotna Stars took an early lead against Skyview, but the game was still in progress at the Clarion went to press.
Tournament play continues today. Bartlett and Houston square off at 3:45 p.m. followed by Skyview and West Valley at 6:15 p.m. Kenai plays Soldotna in the 8:45 p.m. game.
The tournament concludes Saturday with Kenai and West Valley at 1:30 p.m., Houston and Skyview at 4 p.m., and Soldotna and Bartlett at 6:30 p.m.
In Thursday's game, Kenai coach Nate Kiel said his squad was much more focused after a ragged, penalty-marred season opener against Soldotna last week.
"We played much more disciplined hockey. We stayed away from the retaliatory penalties, for the most part," Kiel said. "We were more disciplined in that we had good positioning. I thought our defense worked well together."
Kenai senior Aaron Lampman-Reid said the Kardinals' had to change their approach after drawing too many penalties last week.
"We decided we couldn't get so many penalties. It hurt the team," he said. "We had a big attitude change. At first, we were just out to kill SoHi not that we aren't out to do that anymore, but we can't beat teams with that many penalties."
The Kardinals picked up five penalties against Bartlett, including a five-minute major and game disqualification to Charlie Smith for a check from behind, but Kiel credited his seniors with good leadership and plenty of positive energy.
Kenai turned that positive energy into plenty of offense, firing 46 shots on goal.
The Kardinals' first good scoring bid came four minutes into the game, and Carrick Cristiano put the Kardinals on the board at 8:51 of the period on a shot from the point through a screen. The goal came after Bartlett goaltender JR Johnstone made a pair of saves on point-blank shots, but the Bears couldn't quite clear the puck away. Owen Dukowitz earned an assist on the play.
Kenai goalie Dan Silver was called on to make a save on a breakaway toward the end of the first period, and added a pair of stops on a Bartlett short-handed bid early in the second period before the Kardinals could score again.
Jonathon Smith made it 2-0 for Kenai with a power-play goal as Silver was credited with an assist at 4:42 of the second period, and Brad Fusaro made it 3-0 midway through the frame, assisted by C.J. Henley and Lampman-Reid.
Jonathon Smith scored his second goal of the game, taking a rip from the point on the power play, to give the Kardinals a 4-0 lead heading into the second intermission. Cody Carver and Dustin Moore assisted on the tally.
Kenai then killed off the major penalty to Charlie Smith, even surviving a two-man Bartlett advantage at the end the second period which carried over into the third.
"It's pretty good (to get a shutout), especially against an Anchorage team," Silver said. "It gives our team a lot of confidence, gives our defense confidence. It gives everyone confidence."
Silver said he was pleased with the defensemen pairings in front of him, and when there was a breakdown, he said he felt he had a good read on the way the play was going to go.
Kenai added three more goals in the third period. Nelson Kempf scored, assisted by Carver and Cristiano, at 4:56 of the period. Travis Temple knocked in a power-play goal, assisted by Trevor Baldwin and John McGlasson, at 7:09 of the period, and Dustin Moore tapped a rebound with 6:44 left in the game as Dukowitz and Carver earned assists.
First period 1. Kenai, Cristiano (Dukowitz), 8:51. Penalties Kenai 3 for 6:00.
Second period 2. Kenai, J. Smith (Silver), 4:42 pp; 3. Kenai, Fusaro (Henley, Lampman-Reid), 7:14; 4. Kenai, J. Smith (Carver, Moore), 10:58 pp. Penalties Bartlett 4 for 8:00, Kenai 2 for 9:00.
Third period 5. Kenai, Kempf (Carver, Cristiano), 4:56; 6. Kenai, Temple (T. Baldwin, Jo. McGlasson), 7:09 pp; 7. Kenai, Moore (Dukowitz, Carver), 8:16. Penalties Bartlett 2 for 14:00.
Shots Bartlett 7-5-618; Kenai 13-22-1146.
Goalies Bartlett, Johnstone (46 shots, 39 saves); Kenai, Silver (18 shots, 18 saves).
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