The only entity missing chances in regards to Soldotna junior forward Eric Newby Tuesday night was the Soldotna student section.
Newby, who had failed to capitalize on several good scoring chances in Saturday's loss to Dimond, notched a hat trick Tuesday to lead the Stars to a 7-2 victory over cross-town rival Skyview at the Soldotna Sports Center in North Star Conference action.
The fact that Newby's third goal of the evening resulted in just one lone hat being tossed on the ice didn't dim the forward's excitement.
"I haven't been shooting too well lately," he said. "I was looking to make the most of my chances tonight and put them on net.
"I'm glad I was finally able to get some goals."
Newby's first goal set the tone for the game. He took a pass from defenseman Mike McIntosh and broke down the side of the ice, where he beat Skyview goalie Mike Bell from a difficult angle just 1:58 into the contest. A mere 30 seconds later, SoHi's Daniel Potton connected on a shot from the point to make the score 2-0.
The Panthers had planned to play a defensive game, but when an Anthony Murray goal put the Stars up 3-0 at the end of the first period, it became apparent Skyview was going to have a hard time matching last year's upset victory over Soldotna.
"We made sure everyone knew about the game last year," said Newby of the loss, which was Soldotna's first to Skyview. "We weren't going to let that happen again."
In the second period, the Panthers and Bell settled down and played the type of game they had intended. Soldotna kept the puck in Skyview's zone for most of the period, but the Panthers didn't allow very many good chances at the net.
After the Stars had 15 shots on net in the first period to Skyview's four, Soldotna out-shot Skyview 6-5 in the second period. The one goal in the period came from Newby, who found himself with an open lane to the net after a slick pass from Peter Kim.
"That was pretty much the way we wanted to play the whole game," said Skyview coach Indy Walton of the second period. "We wanted to play defense and take our chances when we had them."
In the third period, the Stars found their rhythm, and more open ice, again. Soldotna out-shot Skyview 16-8 and received goals from Kim, Newby and Sam Tikka. Soldotna goalie Kenny Bishop lost the shutout when Wayne Maxwell beat him for a pair of unassisted goals in the period.
"Those were just some breakdowns in the defensive zone that can't happen," Murray said. "We got away with it against Skyview, but we won't get away with it in some other games."
Soldotna coach Pat Nolden said positives he took from the game were the regained shooting touch of Newby and the excellent all-around play of Murray. He also liked where the victory puts Soldotna in the North Star Conference. The Stars are 1-0-0 in league while the Panthers are 0-1-1.
"We've got 10 conference games," Nolden said. "We want to make sure we're in the top three, at least. If we end up being No. 4 or 5 in the tournament, there's no way we'll make it to state."
STARS 7, PANTHERS 2
Soldotna 3 1 3 --7
Skyview 0 0 2 --2
First period -- 1. Soldotna, Eric Newby (Mike McIntosh), 1:58; 2. Soldotna, Daniel Potton (John Gleason, Chris Houglum), 2:28; 3. Soldotna, Anthony Murray (Chris Houglum), 10:45. Penalties -- Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Second period -- 4. Soldotna, Eric Newby (Peter Kim, Keith Herring), 11:57. Penalties -- Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Third period -- 5. Soldotna, Peter Kim (n/a), 7:16; 6. Skyview, Wayne Maxwell (unassisted), 8:00; 7. Soldotna, Eric Newby (Mike McIntosh), 9:27; 8. Skyview, Wayne Maxwell (unassisted), 10:35; 9. Soldotna, Sam Tikka (John Gleason), 13:12. Penalties -- Soldotna 1 for 2:00; Skyview 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal -- Soldotna 15-6-16--37; Skyview 4-5-8--17.
Goalies -- Soldotna, Kenny Bishop (17 shots, 15 saves); Skyview, Mike Bell (37 shots, 30 saves).
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