Nikiski's Matt Hanley checks Tri-Valley's Tony Powell in the third period Friday at the Soldotna Sports Center.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The Nikiski High School hockey team was saddled with a pair of lopsided losses to Tri-Valley in Greatland Conference play this weekend, but the Bulldogs continue to improve and are focused on being more competitive as the season progresses.
"We played better. We did some things right, and worked on some areas like protecting our own zone," said Nikiski coach Donald Torres after the Bulldogs followed a 15-3 loss Friday with a 10-1 loss Saturday. "We're coming together as a team a little bit, but Tri-Valley, they're a pretty good team."
In Friday's game, the Bulldogs had trouble containing Tri-Valley's Ben Jordan, who scored three goals in the first five minutes of play.
Mike O'Brien scored a pair of goals for the Bulldogs in the second period, and team captain Israel Blatchford tallied in the third.
Blatchford scored Nikiski's lone goal in Saturday's game.
Despite the goals against, Nikiski netminder Sam Zulkanycz played well in the two games, even making a stop on a penalty shot in the third period of Saturday's game.
"That was a big moral victory for him and the team," Torres said.
Torres added that quite a few freshmen were making contributions on the ice, and with good senior leadership, that bodes well for the rest of the season.
Right now, the Bulldogs are learning a lot of new tricks.
"These guys are all pretty enthusiastic," Torres said. "They're learning to play as a team. There's a lot of individual talent. Now we have to play as a team, talk and communicate on the ice. We're looking toward the future and learning from each game."
Toward that end, Torres said, the Bulldogs have been working on the fundamentals.
"We're working on some things and hopefully, we'll be competing at a higher level," Torres said.
The Bulldogs face Soldotna's junior varsity squad Tuesday and Greatland opponent Homer Thursday. Both games are scheduled to be played at the Kenai Multipurpose facility.
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