With the holidays coming up, Soldotna hockey coach Pat Nolden is happy to see his team in a giving mood.
Getting points from eight different players, the Stars notched a 6-1 North Star Conference victory over Wasilla Friday at the Soldotna Sports Center. Soldotna is now 2-0 in the NSC and 6-2 overall.
The Stars did not have two of their top players for the game. Derek Martin is out until after Christmas and Peter Kim is out temporarily after having his wisdom teeth pulled.
But Soldotna, flaunting its depth, did not skip a beat.
"Just from past years, we knew we'd have trouble with Soldotna on the large sheet of ice," Wasilla coach Eric Troisi said after his team fell to 0-3 in the conference and 2-12-1 overall. "Their team skates well and has a lot of speed."
Hunter Sirois and Ben Tikka led the charge for Soldotna with two goals and an assist apiece.
"I think the big part of this whole deal before Christmas break is having the kids playing well and playing as a team," Nolden said.
Tikka scored twice and Johnny Mills added another goal as the Stars took a 3-0 lead early in the second period.
"We became more of a team tonight because we were missing Kim and Martin," Tikka said.
Even though Wasilla ended up with 26 shots to Soldotna's 27, the Warriors never mounted a serious comeback charge thanks to solid goaltending from Jon Verhelst, who made 25 saves, and a stout defense.
"Johnny Smith did a good job on defense," Nolden said. "If there's a better freshman defenseman in the state, I haven't seen him."
In addition to the offense from Tikka and Sirois, the Stars received a goal and an assist from Scott Laurion, a goal and an assist from Mills, two assists from Nels Hansen and assists from Smith, Matt Vasilie and Brian Herring.
But of all those names on offense, the one that stood out the most was Sirois.
"At times, he was the best player on the ice tonight," Nolden said. "Anybody watching the game could see that."
On his first goal, Sirois deked Wasilla goalie Nathan Branberry so completely that all he had to do was let the puck slide into the net. On his second goal, Sirois beat two defenders in tight space before beating Branberry.
Sirois has been off and on the ice this season due to suspensions, so he said he had his mind on one thing Friday.
"I made a concentrated effort to stop with some of the checking and just concentrate on putting the puck in the back of the net," Sirois said.
STARS 6, WARRIORS 1
Wasilla 0 1 0 --1
Soldotna 2 2 2 --6
First period -- 1. Soldotna, Tikka (Laurion, Hansen), 4:05; 2. Soldotna, Mills (B. Herring, Vasilie), 11:24. Penalties -- Wasilla 1 for 2:00; Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Second period -- 3. Soldotna, Tikka (Mills), 6:37; 4. Wasilla, T. Kaufman (Colegrove), 9:20, pp; 5. Soldotna, Laurion (Tikka, Sirois), 11:56. Penalties -- Wasilla 2 for 4:00; Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Third period -- 6. Soldotna, Sirois (Hansen), 1:08; 7. Soldotna, Sirois (J. Smith), 3:04. Penalties -- Wasilla 3 for 6:00; Soldotna 6 for 12:00.
Shots on goal -- Wasilla 6-12-8--26; Soldotna 11-7-9--27.
Goalies -- Wasilla, Papadora (18 shots, 15 saves), Branberry (9 shots, 7 saves); Soldotna, Verhelst (26 shots, 25 saves).
WARRIORS 8, BULLDOGS 0
The Nikiski hockey team lost 8-0 to the Houston Hawks Friday at the Kenai Multipurpose Facility in Kenai, sending the Bulldogs' record in the Greatland Conference to 2-7.
The Bulldogs had 32 shots on goal and Nikiski goalie Luke Hardesty had 24 saves.
Nikiski coach Al Anderson said in spite of the loss, he was pleased to see his team pull together and play defense after two first periods of Houston scoring barrages. The Hawks had four goals in the first period and four goals in the second period.
"In the last period, I did see that our team was beginning to rally as far as shots on goal and attitude," Anderson said.
Rick Morlock and Jimmie Estes had two goals apiece for the Hawks, while Matt Bertling, Jamie Bennet, Wade Williams and Brie Baskin each had a goal.
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