Nikiski's Adam Parrish sends Su Valley's Jacob Mannix to the ice in the first period Friday night at the Kenai Multipurpose Facility. The Rams defeated the Bulldogs.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Goalies are like daily commuters. They don’t like a lot of traffic.
After leaving Nikiski goalie Sam Zulkanycz’s front doorstep clean early in the game, Susitna Valley put players in front of the net as the game wore on and pulled away for a 5-3 victory on Friday in Greatland Hockey Conference action at the Kenai Multipurpose Facility.
On Saturday, the Rams notched another victory in Kenai, topping the Bulldogs 6-2.
On Friday, the most annoying bit of traffic for Zulkanycz, who had 37 saves, to deal with was the Rams’ Riley Foster. Foster normally plays on the third line for Su Valley but moved up to the second line on Friday due to the suspension of another player.
Foster scored Su Valley’s last three goals to salt away the victory. He got all three of the goals by crashing the net.
“The guys on this line are good,” Foster said. “They make plays happen. It’s nice.”
After a seven-hour bus ride down from Talkeetna, the Rams took a 1-0 lead after the first period on an unassisted goal from Jake Hartley.
Despite falling behind, Zulkanycz was playing well enough in goal to spark an upset bid. Nikiski’s lone victory of the year is a 10-1 triumph over Kenai Central’s junior varsity, while Su Valley is now 5-5 overall and 3-4 in the GLC.
With three seconds left in the first period, Zulkanycz stoned Mac Stevens on a breakaway. The goal would have been a backbreaker, because Nikiski was on the power play at the time. In the first five minutes of the second period, Zulkanycz stopped a couple of point-blank attempts by Hartley, then the Nikiski goalie stopped another breakaway by Stevens with 7:03 left in the second period.
“Their goalie was good,” Su Valley coach Jack MacDonald said. “Every chance we had to get in his way and get rebounds, we had to do it. After that, we scored some goals on rebounds.”
Nikiski's Zach Alkire, Sam Zulkanycz and Jordan Harrison try to keep the goal clean after a shot from Su Valley's Mac Stevens in the first period Friday at the Kenai Multipurpose Facility.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Nikiski tied the game with 6:24 left in the second when Beau Calderwood got the puck in front of the net right after a faceoff and tucked it home. Assists were credited to Zach Alkire and Paul Delago.
Courtney Lavallee gave the Rams the lead back with 3:48 left in the period, but Calderwood, on assists from Delago and Shane Hardesty, tied the game at 2 a minute later. However, with 1:22 left in the period, Foster gave the Rams the lead for good when he converted a rebound off a shot from Sam Reynolds.
After a Foster score early in the third, Nikiski cut the lead to 4-3 after scoring on a 5-on-3 power play. Alkire deflected a Jordan Harrison shot to Delago, who scored. Foster defused that momentum with 5:37 left in the game when, on a power play, he stuffed in a rebound off a Sam Widener shot.
Despite the loss, Zulkanycz said the squad is making progress.
“Our offense has gotten quite a bit better than it used to be, and our defense also has improved quite a bit,” he said. “We’re better all-around.”
On Saturday, Hartley scored four goals to lead the Rams. Calderwood and Delago lit the lamp for Nikiski.
RAMS 5, BULLDOGS 3
Su Valley 1 2 2 5
Nikiski 0 2 1 3
First period 1. Su Valley, Hartley (un.), 9:54. Penalties Su Valley 3 for 6:00; Nikiski 3 for 6:00.
Second period 2. Nikiski, Calderwood (Alkire, Delago), 8:36; 3. Su Valley, C. Lavallee (Hartley), 11:12; 4. Nikiski, Calderwood (Delago, Hardesty), 12:09; 5. Su Valley, Foster (Reynolds), 13:38. Penalties Su Valley 2 for 4:00; Nikiski 1 for 2:00.
Third period 6. Su Valley, Foster (Thompson), 4:52; 7. Nikiski, Delago (Alkire, Jordan Harrison), 6:41; 8. Su Valley, Foster (Hartley, Widener), 9:23. Penalties Su Valley 4 for 16:00; Nikiski 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal Su Valley 17-17-842; Nikiski 7-8-1227.
Goalies Su Valley, Farina (27 shots, 24 saves); Nikiski, Zulkanycz (42 shots, 37 saves).
RAMS 6, BULLDOGS 2
Su Valley 1 1 4 6
Nikiski 0 1 1 2
First period 1. Su Valley, Hartley (un.), 1:02. Penalties Su Valley 3 for 6:00; Nikiski 3 for 6:00.
Second period 2. Nikiski, Calderwood (un.), 10:19; 3. Su Valley, Cou. Lavallee (Cor. Lavallee), 10:50. Penalties Su Valley 6 for 20:00; Nikiski 3 for 6:00.
Third period 4. Su Valley, Hartley (Farena), 0:43; 5. Su Valley, Hartley (un.), 4:55; 6. Nikiski, Delago (Alkire, O’Brien), 6:39; 7. Su Valley, Hartley (Thompson, Cou. Lavallee), 9:10; 8. Su Valley, Widener (Stevens), 9:18. Penalties Su Valley 1 for 2:00; Nikiski 1 for 2:00.
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