The Nikiski High School hockey team dominated play for two periods Tuesday, taking a 3-1 lead into the third period against the Skyview Panthers in a nonconference game at Jason Peterson Memorial Rink in Nikiski.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the Panthers rallied for four third-period goals en route to a 5-4 victory.
"We just came out and decided it was time to win," said Skyview's Wade Marks. "We came out in the third period with more of a power lineup. We got a goal, and kept it going."
The Bulldogs were the better team for the first two periods. Nikiski outshot Skyview 18-10 in the first period and had a 2-0 advantage by the first intermission on tallies from Mike O'Brien and Israel Blatchford.
The Nikiski defense kept Skyview's forwards in check, and netminder Luke Hardesty was able to handle everything thrown his way.
"I was up on my game today, and so was everybody else," Hardesty said. "We were just thinking that we've got nothing to lose. I think the opposition wasn't expecting us to come out so strong."
Skyview's Scott Ralston put the Panthers on the board with a power-play goal in the second period, but Nikiski regained its two-goal advantage on a tally from Louis Oliva late in the period, taking a 3-1 lead into the second intermission.
Gabe Fellman got the Panthers going in the third period, though, sparking a run of four straight goals with his power-play score 3:30 into the frame. Just 5:06 later, Fellman had added two more goals and Paddy Iverson scored once to give the Panthers their first lead of the night, 5-3.
"It was definitely an attitude change," said Skyview's Tim Sturm, who recorded his first varsity point with an assist during the run. "We came out a little more focused in the third period."
Iverson had a pair of assists for the Panthers, as did Luke Magone and Ralston. Marks and Fellman also had assists.
Nikiski added a goal by Brett Allemann late in the period. The Bulldogs had a good chance to tie it up with just under a minute to play, but couldn't quite find the back of the net.
O'Brien picked up three assists for the Bulldogs while Oliva and Russell each were credited with two assists.
"We lost because of some mental errors, but we had the ability to win," Hardesty said. "We're on our break now, but we'll be ready for whoever's coming up next."
Hardesty finished with 31 saves for the Bulldogs while Skyview goalie Kris Marshall stopped 26 Nikiski shots.
Both teams are now off for the holidays. The Bulldogs return to action Jan. 6 at home against Soldotna while the Panthers are slated to play Jan. 9 at Houston.
Panthers 5, Bulldogs 4
Skyview 0 1 4 5
Nikiski 2 1 1 4
First period 1. Nikiski, O'Brien (Oliva, Russell), 0:54; 2. Nikiski, Blatchford (Oliva, O'Brien), 13:45. Penalties Skyview 1 for 2:00.
Second period 3. Skyview, Ralston (Iverson, Fellman), 8:38 pp; 4. Nikiski, Oliva (O'Brien), 11:16. Penalties Skyview 2 for 4:00, Nikiski 2 for 4:00.
Third period 5. Skyview, Fellman (Iverson, Ralston), 3:30 pp; 6. Skyview, Fellman (Sturm, R. Mercier), 5:11; 7. Skyview, Iverson (Marks, Ralston), 6:03; 8. Skyview, Fellman (Magone), 8:36; 9. Nikiski, Allemann (Russell, O'Brien), 12:39. Penalties Nikiski 1 for 2:00.
Shots Skyview 10-9-1736, Nikiski 18-7-530.
Goalies Skyview, Marshall (30 shots, 26 saves); Nikiski, Hardesty (36 shots, 31 saves)
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