The Strawberry Lakers relied on an old trick -- a hat trick, that is -- to beat the Peninsula Mic-macs 5-3 Thursday in the fourth annual Hall of Fame Memorial hockey game at the Soldotna Sports Center.
Jake Glotfeltey turned the trick for the Lakers, scoring three goals as his squad came from behind to avenge last year's loss to the Mic-macs.
"All I'll say about that team is that they were loaded," said Mike Gabriel, who coached the Mic-macs squad. "We had some great skaters, too. It was one of those get-togethers where everybody had fun."
The Mic-macs had a 1-0 lead after the first period, thanks to a goal from J.B. Bachaus with an assist by Pat Nolden.
But the young legs on the Strawberry Lakers kept churning, and Jeremy Downs and Johnnie Bea added tallies for the Lakers.
Derek Eagle was kept plenty busy between the pipes for the Strawberry Lakers while Eric Derleth and Carl Glick split goaltending duties for the Mic-macs.
"I knew from past experience that those young guys, once they start clicking, they start wearing you down," Gabriel said.
"The Mic-macs had the experience, but the Strawberry Lakers had the stamina," said Luke Hall, a Strawberry Laker. Hall's father Mark is one of the event's organizers and puts together the Lakers' roster.
"And the Lakers have a lot cooler looking jerseys. The Mic-macs' (sweaters) are pretty old-school."
The Strawberry Lakers had plenty of experience behind the bench, though, as Bob Downs and Johnnie Bea Sr. pooled their hockey knowledge to guide the young Lakers team.
For that matter, the Mic-macs had some very young legs on the ice -- particularly Dagen Walton, son of Mic-macs' goal scorer Indy Walton and a Kenai Peninsula Hockey Association youth player. Gabriel sent Dagen out for a faceoff late in the game.
"He raced down the ice and stuck one in," Gabriel said.
Supporting that type of youthful enthusiasm is exactly why the game has been played for the past four seasons. Proceeds from the event benefit KPHA and are used to help any player that might need assistance covering the expenses that hockey entails.
Gabriel said that some of the evening's highlights happened away from the ice, particularly when an impressive list of sponsors was announced. Hutchings Chevrolet, Red Line Sports, The Grind Coffeehouse, Sweeney's Clothing, Sal's Klondike Diner, Dan's TV and Appliance, Ron's Rent-It Center, Peninsula Plumbing and Heating, Travis Hall (son of Mark Hall and a defensive lineman for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons), Audio Concepts, One-Stop Grocery and Mailboxes Etc. all contributed to the fundraiser.
"One of the high points for me was seeing the sponsors step forward and give to the game," Gabriel said.
Luke Hall said the game is growing into a nice holiday tradition, and Gabriel said some fine-tuning could make future Hall of Fame games even bigger and better.
"People should expect it for years to come," Hall said.
Gabriel said that next season, he'll be sure to work around KPHA's schedule. Several of KPHA's teams were in Anchorage for a tournament, somewhat shrinking the turnout for the game.
Gabriel said he would also consider moving the game to another night of the holiday weekend -- giving players a little more time to digest their turkey dinners.
"A little bit of tweaking here and a little bit of tweaking there, and this game will keep getting bigger," Gabriel said. "It's got a lot of room to get bigger."
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