Wasilla's Matthew and Adam Friese box in Soldotna's Jake Pokryfki in the second period Thursday at the Soldotna Sports Center. Wasilla defeated Soldotna 2-1.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Soldotna captain Clayton Glick raised his arms and stick in triumph. The horn sounded. The Stars were leading 2-1.
But hold on a minute.
Upon further review, Glick's second goal of the contest was waved off.
And Wasilla promptly took advantage.
Roughly three minutes after the Stars appeared to take the lead, the Warriors' Joe Barkley scored the eventual game-winner and goalie Jesse Hugli withstood a barrage of shots toward the end of the second and again in the third as the Warriors edged the Stars, 2-1, in Soldotna's Northern Lights Conference opener Thursday night at the Soldotna Sports Center.
"My assistant said where he was sitting from the bench, it was in," said Stars' coach Kyle Howell. "I don't think there was a hole in the net. It was just a funny angle. I've seen it happen before."
Just 1:17 after Daniel Markstrom found a wide-open Glick in the middle, the senior sending a slapper past Hugli for a power-play tally and a 1-1 game, Glick almost struck again.
This time he corralled the puck along the right boards, beat a defenseman and fired another slapper in Hugli's direction. The puck appeared to hit the back of the net and pop back out, setting off a brief celebration.
But after a lengthy discussion and an inspection of the net, the goal was negated.
Following the game, referee Jimmy Love said it first appeared as though the puck went into the net and bounced out. But from the angle that it would have had to enter the goal at, Love thought perhaps it traveled through a hole in the net.
After fruitlessly searching for the hole, it was ruled the puck never even entered the net.
"I thought it went wide. I couldn't tell. Everyone from our bench thought it went wide. But the angle I was at, I couldn't tell," said Wasilla coach Bill Sturdevant. "When the puck was shot and where the puck ended up, I thought it was wide.
"Obviously I'll take it anyday."
Soldotna (3-5, 0-1) still had its chances, though.
Trailing 2-1 after Barkley controlled a bouncing puck just outside the crease and wristed it past SoHi goaltender Mike McGrath, who denied 15 of the 17 shots he faced, the Stars nearly tied the game on numerous occasions.
On a power play for the sixth time in the game when Wasilla's Adam Friese went to the box for interference, Soldotna peppered Hugli with four consecutive shots in a span of just over two minutes.
Hugli used his blocker to deny Kevin Garske's wrister and then saved a backhanded shot by Anton Olson before standing strong during a scrum on the doorstep.
"They didn't have the spark they normally have and they even said so after the first period that their legs, that they had nothing in their legs," Sturdevant said of his team. "Fortunately, our goalie said that he felt great. He definitely played on. He definitely kept us in the game. That's for sure.
"Especially late there, they had a couple 2-on-0 chances and he stood on his head, basically, back there for us."
The Stars, who outshot the Warriors 12-6 in the second and 21-17 overall, maintained their pressure into the third and nearly knotted the game again with just over a minute remaining when Glick received a pass at the blue line, skated in unabated and lifted his shot off the upper body of Hugli, who turned away 20 of the 21 shots that came his way.
"I think it was two breakaways at the end, that was real close," Howell said. "Either way, a bounce here, a bounce there, we're right back in the game."
The Warriors (7-5, 2-0) took a 1-0 edge just 3:21 into the game when Dane Wilson received a pass just outside of the crease and backhanded the puck over McGrath's shoulder.
Despite committing just two penalties themselves, Soldotna failed to capitalize on seven power-play opportunities, cashing in just once, their lone goal of the game.
"To come out with a win like that, I feel real fortunate," Sturdevant said. "We're lucky that we got out of here with a win. That's for sure."
After Glick's crucial goal was called back, Howell said his team started to get a bit frustrated.
"They were working pretty hard," he said. "There's always next time. And we've got some things to work on, strengthen us up a little bit.
"We see them another time up in the Valley and I've got a lot of young freshmen playing and as time goes on, that's going to help us, too."
Sturdevant said he wouldn't be surprised to see Soldotna in the final game of the conference tournament, either.
"SoHi's a really strong team and I certainly expect them to go far. They're real solid. And we knew, even from what we saw of them last year, that they were going to be a strong team. Then when I heard that they got some more goaltending, that helps all the time," he said. "So, I certainly expect to see them down the road here."
Matthew Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Hanson recorded a hat trick in leading the visiting Moose past the Kardinals in Northern Lights Conference action at the Soldotna Sports Center.
Kenai's Morgan Cunningham scored his first varsity goal 1:30 into the second and Steven Horne added an unassisted tally with under six minutes to play in the third.
Kardinals' goaltender Matt Barrett made 31 saves.
Leading 3-2 with 4:30 to play in the game, the Knights scored four more times, including an empty-netter, in sending the Mariners to their third Northern Lights Conference setback this season.
Aaron Lewis scored a pair of goals for Homer (3-5, 0-3) while Josh Pitta and Brady Quinn added a goal and an assist each.
Colony was led by Blake Huppert, who had four assists to go along with one goal and Braden Carter added the Knights' first two tallies of the game.
Homer goaltender Luke Eckert denied 34 of 41 shots while Colony's Chris Breck turned away 20 of 24.
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