The Kenai Central High School hockey team finally got one up on the Lathrop Malemutes.
The Kardinals, playing in the opening game of the Peninsula Ice Challenge hockey tournament Thursday at the Soldotna Sports Center, edged the Malemutes 7-6, marking Kenai's first win over Lathrop during Brian Gabriel Sr.'s tenure as head coach.
In the late game Thursday, the Soldotna Stars defeated the West High School Eagles 5-3.
In today's games, Soldotna faces Lathrop at 5:30 p.m. and Kenai plays West at 7:30 p.m. The tournament concludes Saturday with West facing Lathrop at 5:30 p.m. and Kenai taking on Soldotna at 7:30 p.m.
"We've played Lathrop three times, and every game's been a one-goal game, and they were all decided within the last couple of minutes," Gabriel Sr. said.
Kenai's last game against the Malemutes was in the consolation bracket of last year's state tournament, a 3-2 Lathrop win. With the way in which Lathrop was able to find an answer for every Kenai goal, Gabriel Sr. said he was worried Thursday's game might end the same way.
Kenai's Owen Brewer ensured that the Kardinals would have the final say, though, potting short-handed goal, unassisted, with 2:10 left in the third period. Brewer won a faceoff in the right circle, deked once to get the Lathrop goaltender moving and tucked a backhand shot home for the gamewinner.
"I saw that Lathrop was lined up in a straight line," said Brewer of his decision to go for goal. "I've done that before, and I thought it would be a good time to try that move."
The move capped a two-goal, three-assist performance from Brewer. Linemate Adrian Borchgrevink notched a goal and an assist while Phillip Ischi was able to benefit from the playmaking ability of both skaters, scoring three goals for his first career hat trick.
"It was just playing with the two best players -- the passes were perfect every time," Ischi said of his goals.
"Ischi was having a really good night," Brewer said. "That line was clicking, so coach kept putting us out."
Lathrop scored the first goal of the game 4:26 into the first period before Micah Lillard drew the Kardinals even on a backhand shot from the slot, assisted by John McGlasson, with 7:42 left in the period.
Ischi netted his first goal during a four-on-four situation, playing a pass from Brewer with his skate, kicking it over to his forehand and roofing his shot past the Lathrop goalie.
The Malemutes scored twice, both on the power play, to take a 3-2 lead at the first intermission, but Ischi equalized on a Kardinals power play 51 seconds into the second period, redirecting a pass into the net. Brewer and Kevin Oberg assisted on the play.
Borchgrevink set up Brewer on an end-to-end rush to give the the Kardinals the lead 11:08 into the period, but Lathrop equalized to send the teams to the locker room for the second intermission knotted at four.
The Kardinals traded goals with the Malemutes through the third period. Ischi netted his third goal 40 seconds into the period, sending a shot toward net from a wide angle that deflected off a skate and into the net to give Kenai a 5-4 lead.
Borchgrevink's goal, assisted by Brewer and Garrett Bossert with 9:43 left to play, gave the Kardinals a 6-5 lead, and Lathrop was able to tie the game up one more time before Brewer's deciding goal.
Kyle Kinda and Charlie Trump each had a goal and two assists for the Malemutes while Ian McGregor had a goal and an assist.
Gabriel Sr. was pleased with the Kardinals offense, but he'd like to see Kenai tighten up on defense, particularly on the penalty kill. Lathrop scored three of its six goals with a man advantage.
"Even if you score 12 goals and give up 13, you still lose," Gabriel Sr. said. "We're going to try to tighten it up. Some of it's just being overly aggressive, trying to pressure the puck on the perimeter when maybe we should let them move the puck on the perimeter and box it up a little tighter."
Soldotna 5, West 3
The Stars defeated West in a tight game, getting three goals in a span of 1:45 in the first period and securing the win with two goals in 3:04 in the third period.
"It was up and down, and both teams were working hard," said Soldotna coach Pat Nolden. "We were moving the puck and getting good quality shots."
Eric Newby scored the first Soldotna goal, firing a shot from the slot 7:55 into the game. Anthony Murray and David Newby assisted on the play.
Derek Martin scored for the Stars 9:11 into the period, banking his shot from the left circle off the inside of the right post. Scott Laurion earned the assist.
Dan Jensen made it 3-0 just 29 seconds later, one-timing a pass from Martin into the net.
West scored on a power play with 2:31 to go in the period and put the only goal of the second period on the board at the 11:08 mark.
The Eagles tied the game on a breakaway goal 4:06 into the third period, but Peter Kim responded for the Stars 1:14 later, scoring on a play set up by Martin and Jensen.
Jensen scored the final goal of the game with 6:36 left to play, poking home the rebound on a shot by Kim.
"That line of Martin, Kim and Jensen, they won the game for us offensively," Nolden said. "They really had some pretty goals."
Nolden also was pleased with the Stars' defensive effort, crediting assistant coaches John Carlin and Anthony Zurfluh with bringing Soldotna's blue-liners along.
"We were a few men short, but the kids that played were tough," Nolden said. "They moved the puck, and when it was time to get the puck out they did that, putting it up off the glass."
KARDINALS 7, MALEMUTES 6
Lathrop 3 1 2 -- 6
Kenai 2 2 3 -- 7
First period -- 1. Lathrop, MacDonald (Donat), 4:26; 2. Kenai, Lillard (McGlasson), 7:18; 3. Kenai, Ischi (Brewer), 9:28; 4. Lathrop, McGregor (Kinda, Trump), 10:58 (pp); 5. Lathrop, Trump (McGregor), 13:36 (pp). Penalties -- Lathrop 2 for 4:00, Kenai 3 for 6:00.
Second period -- 6. Kenai, Ischi (Brewer, Oberg), 0:51 (pp); 7. Kenai, Brewer (Borchgrevink), 11:08; 8. Lathrop, Stewart (Ryan), 12:26. Penalties -- Lathrop 3 for 6:00, Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Third period -- 9. Kenai, Ischi (Janson), 0:40 (pp); 10. Lathrop, Kinda (Trump, Conlon), 3:31; 11. Kenai, Borchgrevink (Brewer, Bossert), 5:17; 12. Lathrop, Mosher (Paskvan, Ferri), 10:41 (pp); 13. Kenai, Brewer (unassisted), 12:50 (sh). Penalties -- Lathrop 3 for 14:00, Kenai 2 for 4:00.
Shots -- Lathrop 5-6-4--15, Kenai 8-7-5--20.
Goalies -- Lathrop, Coleman (20 shots, 13 saves); Kenai, Dukowitz (15 shots, 9 saves).
STARS 5, EAGLES 3
West 1 1 1 -- 3
Soldotna 3 0 2 -- 5
First period -- 1. Soldotna, E. Newby (Murray, D. Newby), 7:55; 2. Soldotna, Martin (Laurion), 9:11; 3. Soldotna, Jensen (Martin), 9:40; 4. West, Smith (Waalkes), 12:29 (pp). Penalties --West 1 for 2:00, Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Second period -- 5. West, Tens (Smith), 11:08.Penalties -- West 1 for 2:00, Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Third period -- 6. West, Aldana (unassisted), 4:06; 7. Soldotna, Kim (Martin, Jensen), 5:20; 8. Soldotna, Jensen (Kim), 8:24. Penalties -- West 1 for 2:00, Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Shots -- West 9-5-7--21, Soldotna 11-11-17--39.
Goalies -- West, Feldman (39 shots, 34 saves); Soldotna, Bishop (21 shots, 18 saves).
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