Early in the first period, Zack Zulkanycz seemed to be at the right place at the right time. Later in the contest, it came blatantly apparent the junior forward is simply all over the ice.
Zulkanycz collected two goals and two assists to lead the Kenai Central Kardinals to a 7-1 win over the Colony Knights during the first round of the Curtis C. Menard Memorial Hockey Tournament at the Menard Arena in Wasilla.
Parked on the doorstep to the right of the Colony net, Zulkanycz took advantage of good position put away the easy goal less than two minutes into play. But throughout the contest, Zulkanycz sparked the Kards offense to help Kenai move into a semifinal match with Eagle River tonight at the Menard.
"He's grown another year, he's a lot more mature, lot calmer on the ice," Kenai head coach Pete Iverson said of Zulkanycz, who stood out for the Kards last season as a sophomore. "He makes things happen."
Zulkanycz gave the Kards that 1-0 lead when he used that great position to deflect a wide Morgan Cunningham shot into the net. And later in the first, Zulkanycz was making things happen.
The forward took the puck from Trevor Wagoner, raced up the right wing and sent a shot from the circle into the far, upper corner of the net.
Late in the first, Zulkanycz helped set up the first of two Zack Mese power-play goals, and recorded the lone assist on Russell Dukowitz's score in the third.
Mese gave the Kards the 3-0 lead late in the first when he knocked in the rebound of a Jake Iverson shot from the point.
Iverson also found the back of the net, sending a shot from between the circles into the Colony net. Sophomore Michael Gabriel also scored in the second.
Gabriel's goal came after Colony won a faceoff in its own zone. Collin Morse was able to knock a puck away from the Knights, and he poked it forward to Gabriel, who then cashed in.
Iverson said play between the blue lines helped Kenai create so many offensive chances.
"The boys worked hard trying to create turnovers in the neutral zone," the Kenai head coach said. "I think they were fairly successful."
Colony's lone goal came at the 1:38 mark of the second when senior Daryl Belanger stood strong in front of the net. With the Knights on the power play, sophomore Morgan McJimsey put a shot in on net, and Belanger, despite being pushed off balance by a Kenai defenseman, managed to get a stick on the puck and deflect it past Kenai goalie Keegan Remsen.
Kenai outshot Colony 39-21 in the match between the North Star Conference rivals.
Kenai Central 7, Colony 1
Thursday, Menard Arena
First period -- 1. Kenai- Zulkanycz (Cunningham) 13:08; 2. Kenai -- Zulkanycz (Wagoner, Cunningham) 3:38; 3. Kenai- Mese (Iverson, Zulkanycz) pp 1:12,
Second period -- 4. Kenai- Gabriel (C. Morse) 11:25; 5. Kenai- Iverson (unassisted) 5:02; 6. Colony- Belanger (McJimsey) pp 1:38.
Third period -- 8. Kenai- Dukowitz (Zulkanyz); 9. Kenai- Mese (Palchikoff, Bowen) pp 8:11.
Shots on goal: Kenai 12-16-11--39, Colony 5-9-7--21; Saves: Kenai- Remsen 5-8-7--20, Colony- Savel 9-x-0--9, Murak x-14-9--23.
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