The Skyview High School hockey team opened its season with a big win, defeating the visiting Nikiski Bulldogs 11-2 in a nonconference game at the Soldotna Sports Center Saturday.
The game was relatively close through two periods of play Skyview led 5-2 early in the third period but the Panthers scored six goals in the final 11 minutes of play to blow the game open.
"I felt good," said Skyview's Gabe Fellman, who finished with five goals and an assist. "Our line (Matt Bell and Cody Carver), we were just clicking all together. We've only been together for a little bit, but today we came together."
Josh Cho put the Panthers on the scoreboard just 3:29 into the game, and Carver made it 2-0 heading into the first intermission.
Fellman scored his first goal to open the second period before Nikiski got on the board midway through the frame.
Lex Litzen tallied for the Bulldogs, roofing his shot after a nice feed by Mike O'Brien.
Skyview came right back with a goal by Nelson Kempf, though, and after the Panthers were able to kill off a two-man Nikiski advantage, Fellman nabbed his second goal of the evening.
Litzen tallied an unassisted goal 3:39 into the third period to cut Skyview's lead to 5-2, but Skyview closed out the game with a flurry of goals, three by Fellman and one each from Tim Sturm and Kempf.
"I think we were forechecking pretty well, and we improved on our shots as the game went on," Litzen said of the Bulldogs' performance. "We did a good job not retaliating, and keeping our penalties down.
"They got a lot of two-on-ones (late in the game) and that made it hard on our goalie. He had a really good game."
Indeed, Nikiski netminder Luke Hardesty made 40 saves on 51 Skyview shots, including 18 saves on 21 shots in the second period.
Skyview goaltender Kris Marshall came up with 22 saves on 24 Nikiski shots.
"It was a nice start," said Skyview defenseman Travis Mercier. "It's a big turnaround from last year. I think we did well passing and communicating once we got into their zone."
The Panthers starts the season with a young squad the opening day roster included just two seniors, four juniors and 14 sophomores.
"We're just trying to get out there and see how we do," Mercier said. "(After Friday's game) we're really happy with ourselves."
Despite the result, the Bulldogs also are optimistic about their season. The team returns many of the players that set a school record for wins in a season last year, and the Bulldogs are hoping to continue that success.
"We've got solid forwards, and solid defense," Litzen said. "There's a few tough teams in our conference, but I'm optimistic."
Panthers 11, Bulldogs 2
Nikiski 0 1 1 2
Skyview 2 3 6 11
First period 1. Skyview, Cho (Iverson, Kempf), 3:29; 2. Skyview, Carver (unassisted), 4:31. Penalties Skyview 2 for 4:00.
Second period 3. Skyview, Fellman (Bell, Mercier), 3:04; 4. Nikiski, Litzen (O'Brien), 7:53; 5. Skyview, Kempf (Cristiano, Carver), 9:07; 6. Skyview, Fellman (Carver, Bell), 12:43. Penalties Nikiski 1 for 2:00, Skyview 2 for 4:00.
Third period 7. Nikiski, Litzen (unassisted), 3:39; 8. Skyview, Fellman (unassisted), 4:17; 9. Skyview, Fellman (Carver, Bell), 8:17; 10. Skyview, Sturm (Cho, Kempf), 9:08; 11. Skyview, Kempf (Cho), 12:04; 12. Skyview, Bell (Carver, Fellman), 12:24; 13. Skyview, Fellman (unassisted), 13:57. Penalties Nikiski 2 for 4:00, Skyview 3 for 6:00.
Shots Nikiski 4-12-824, Skyview 16-21-1451.
Goalies Nikiski, L. Hardesty (51 shots, 40 saves); Skyview, Marshall (24 shots, 22 saves).
Kenai 7, Soldotna 0
Kenai freshman goaltender Lauren Baldwin turned back all 15 shots she faced to record her first career shutout as Kenai beat the Soldotna Stars 7-0 in the final game of the Peninsula Ice Challenge Saturday night at the Soldotna Sports Center.
Phillip Ischi had three goals, including two in Kenai's five-goal third period, to lead the Kardinals. Ryan Hicks added two goals and two assists for Kenai, which moved to 2-1 on the season. The Kardinals also won Friday, beating the Lathrop Malemutes 5-3.
Soldotna goalie Jon Verhelst saved 49 of the 56 shots he faced for the Stars, who fell to 0-3 on the year. Verhelst's 49 saves came just one night after he recorded 64 in SoHi's 12-0 loss to Chugiak Friday night.
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