Stargazers looking to enjoy the shooting Stars of Saturday night's Leonids got a preview Friday as the Soldotna High School hockey team defeated Lathrop 6-0 in the Peninsula Ice Challenge hockey tournament at the Soldotna Sports Center.
Also Friday, the Kenai Central High School Kardinals lost to the West High Eagles.
The Stars' shooting display took a little while to develop as Lathrop kept Soldotna off the scoreboard through the first period.
Once the Stars found the back of the net, though, the scores came in bunches. After Peter Kim's tally on a wraparound 5:43 into the second period, Soldotna scored a pair of goals 3:48 apart late in the period to take a 3-0 lead into the locker room for the second intermission.
Soldotna put three quick goals on the board in the first 2:40 of the third period, getting a tally in the opening minute and two in the third minute of the period to secure the win.
"It took a while for us to get on track," said Soldotna coach Pat Nolden. "When you get that first one, it's just a load off your mind."
Kim's power-play goal couldn't have been prettier. The Soldotna junior collected the puck from Derek Martin, carried it around the back of the net and, once he got back in front of the net, roofed his backhand shot over the shoulder of Lathrop goalie Ian Coleman.
Billy Smith gave the Stars a 2-0 lead 4:28 later, firing a wrist shot from the bottom of the right circle for the power-play goal.
Soldotna's third goal came with 2:03 left in the second period, just seconds after a Stars power play expired and before the Malemutes could clear the puck to get a line change. Eric Newby recorded the goal, assisted by Keith Herring.
Smith said that the Stars have been working on their transition from defense to offense, something that sets up what they do at the opponent's end of the ice.
"We're working on getting the puck out of the defensive zone, and then the offense is going to work for itself," Smith said. "I think it'll start clicking the more we get used to playing with each other."
Nels Hansen put the Stars on the board 1:35 into the third period, scoring on a slap shot from the red line. His shot, intended to be a dump-in so the Stars could change lines, got past Coleman and dipped just under the crossbar.
"I was going to be upset with him," Nolden said. "From where he dumped it in, it was going to be icing."
Nolden said that once he saw the puck in the net, he decided to let that one slide.
Newby notched his second goal of the game 26 seconds later, assisted by Herring and Smith, and Smith finished off the scoring with a flashy goal just 39 seconds after that.
Smith circled the Lathrop zone with the puck before firing his shot past Coleman, with Anthony Murray and Newby assisting on the play.
Soldotna goalie Egan Gleason stopped 15 Lathrop shots, including a flurry during a two-man advantage for the Malemutes with just under two minutes left in the game, to earn the shutout.
"The goaltending was tough," Nolden said. "He was tested a few times, tested at the end, and he withstood the test."
West 4, Kenai 1
The Eagles defeated the Kardinals in a game characterized by the figurative revolving doors on the penalty boxes.
In fact, West racked up 12 penalties while the Kardinals accrued 14 -- one shy of a $250 fine levied against the school under Alaska School Activities Association rules.
"There were a couple of penalties that were kids just not using their heads," Kenai coach Brian Gabriel Sr. said. "When we've got a power play, and somebody takes a penalty to even it up, that's a killer.
"There's some younger guys that haven't learned my philosophy yet. It may take a couple of times sitting on the bench watching for it to sink in. One thing we try to teach is controlling your emotion."
Gabriel Sr. said that he requires his players to sprint to the penalty box when they are called for an infraction, and head straight for the bench when they get out to give them the opportunity to focus on keeping their emotions in check.
"People get frustrated and put a stick on a guy -- retaliation is what kills us," said Kenai's Adrian Borchgrevink. "In the last period, we played more disciplined. We need to do that the whole game."
Kenai played West to a scoreless draw through the first period. The Eagles put a goal on the board during a two-man advantage to open the second period, and made it 2-0 during a four-on-four situation just over a minute later.
Kenai scored a power play goal at 5:22 of the second period, one of the few points in the period when the Kardinals had a full team on the ice.
Garrett Bossert netted the goal, collecting a beautifully dropped puck from Zach Hicks and sending his slap shot to the back of the net.
"Zach made a nice pass. I just got lucky and scored," Bossert said. "I was just waiting for the goalie to go down to see if I could put it over his shoulder."
Borchgrevink also assisted on the play.
West regained its two-goal lead with a power-play goal with 4:55 left in the second period. The Eagles scored the only goal of the third period on a shorthanded break with 6:19 left in the game.
"It's tough when you can't establish any flow," Gabriel Sr. said. "We had to juggle lines to make up for the penalty kills. It usually takes a full cycle to get the lines back in order. It seemed like just when we got one ready, we'd take another penalty, and now we're back to square one.
"Overall, I'm really happy with the way the kids played. We had a lot of great chances. I think that these guys are going to realize that there's nothing wrong with throwing the rubber on net."
STARS 6, MALEMUTES 0
Lathrop 0 0 0 --0
Soldotna 0 3 3 -- 6
First period -- None. Penalties -- Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Second period -- 1. Soldotna, Kim (Martin), 5:43 (pp); 2. Soldotna, Smith (unassisted), 9:09 (pp); 3. Soldotna, E. Newby (Herring), 12:57. Penalties -- Lathrop 4 for 18:00, Soldotna 3 for 6:00.
Third period -- 4. Soldotna, Hansen (unassisted), 1:35; 5. Soldotna, E. Newby (Herring, B. Smith), 2:01; 6. Soldotna, B. Smith (Murray, E. Newby), 2:40. Penalties -- Soldotna 3 for 6:00.
Shots -- Lathrop 6-5-4--15, Soldotna 8-12-11--31.
Goalies -- Lathrop, Coleman (31 shots, 25 saves); Soldotna, Gleason (15 shots, 15 saves).
EAGLES 4, KARDINALS 1
West 0 3 1 -- 4
Kenai 0 1 0 -- 1
First period -- None. Penalties --West 3 for 6:00, Kenai 3 for 6:00.
Second period -- 1. West, Tans (Koehler), 1:28 (pp); 2. West, Aldana (unassisted), 2:51; 3. Kenai, Bossert (Borchgrevink, Hicks), 5:22 (pp); 4. West, Foster (Aldana), 10:05 (pp). Penalties --West 5 for 18:00, Kenai 7 for 14:00.
Third period -- West, Aldana (unassisted), 8:41 (sh). Penalties -- West 4 for 8:00, Kenai 4 for 16:00.
Shots -- West 11-7-9--27, Kenai 9-5-8--23.
Goalies -- West, Cable (23 shots, 22 saves); Kenai, Dulowitz (27 shots, 23 saves).
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