Soldotna's Jordan Evanoff, left, and Kevin Larion, right, help goalie Chance Rocket keep his net clean in the second period Friday against South Anchorage.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Just how different life is for peninsula schools and their enrollment of hundreds and Anchorage schools and their enrollements of more than a thousand was apparent after South’s 8-1 nonconference victory over Soldotna at the Soldotna Sports Center on Friday.
After improving to 7-0-1, South coach Mike Ashley was asked what he liked about the victory.
“Our youngest line had four goals,” Ashley said.
Ashley was referring to the line of Eric Smejdir, Shane Rall and Kyle Romanchuk. Smejdir had three goals, Romanchuk had a goal and two assists and Rall had three assists.
Yes, it was quite a night for this young South line this line of juniors. That’s right, juniors.
What’s young at South is about as experienced as they come at Soldotna, a team with only two seniors.
“We get a lot of bodies at tryouts,” Ashley said. “A lot of kids have to play JV and they don’t crack the lineup until they are juniors.”
Ashley said there are exceptions, such as some very talented sophomores on this year’s team, but in general South rolls with seniors and juniors. That’s why Soldotna coach Aaron Swanson said he was happy with the way his team played despite the loss.
The Stars were able to stay with the Wolverines in the first period. After Smejdir notched his first goal of the game, Soldotna was able to kill off a South power play. South kept the puck in Soldotna’s zone the entire power play, so the Wolverines were never able to change lines. A turnover at the end of the power play created a two-on-none opportunity for the Stars, but South goalie Aaron Mayo was able to turn aside Anton Olson’s bid off a quick pass from Brian Herring.
A couple minutes later, Herring found himself with a another breakaway opportunity. This time, he beat Mayo cleanly to tie the game on an assist from fellow senior Kevin Laurion. South then took the lead for good a minute later.
Soldotna's Sam Evanoff tangles with South Anchorage's Kyle Romanchuk in the second period Friday at the Soldotna Sports Center.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The Wolverines then added three goals in the second and third periods and ended up outshooting Soldotna 46-12.
Swanson said the only disappointing stretches for his team came early in the second period and late in the third period. South scored twice in the first two minutes of the second period and twice in the final 16 seconds of the game.
“It was the first time we used our new defensive system in a game,” Swanson said after his team fell to 4-4 overall. “We’re definitely making some mistakes, but the effort there was good. The new system stood up to the test.”
Swanson also was encouraged by the new system’s ability to create offense. The system is designed to get players like Herring breakaway opportunities. Herring had a number of great chances in the third period.
With junior Micah Perletti injured, freshmen Chance Rocket and Stephen Kendrick split time in goal for the Stars. The two combined for 38 saves.
“Both of them did really well,” Swanson said.
Kyle Pichler added two goals for South, while Alex Arnold and Josh Heinen had the team’s two other goals.
WOLVERINES 8, STARS 1
South 2 3 3 8
Soldotna 1 0 0 1
First period 1. South, Smejdir (Romanchuk, Rall), 4:01; 2. Soldotna, Herring (Laurion), 11:25; 3. South, Pichler (Bishop, Jones), 13:01. Penalties Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Second period 4. South, Heinen (Castignetti), 0:29; 5. South, Pichler (Bishop), 1:31; 6. South, Arnold (Geerin, Haider), 9:06. Penalties South 3 for 6:00; Soldotna 4 for 8:00.
Third period 7. South, Smejdir (Rall, Romanchuk), 3:37; 8. South, Romanchuk (Rall), 0:16; 9. South, Smejdir (unassisted), 14:57. Penalties South 3 for 14:00; Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal South 12-21-1346; Soldotna 4-2-612.
Goalies South, Mayo (12 shots, 11 saves); Soldotna, Kendrick and Rocket (46 shots, 38 saves).
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