The Soldotna High School hockey team started fast Saturday to defeat the visiting Homer Mariners 6-2 in a North Star Conference game at the Soldotna Sports Center.
“We got off to a good, quick start and that set the tone for the rest of the game for us,” said Soldotna coach Aaron Swanson. “Homer is an up-and-coming team with a lot of potential, and we definitely did not want to let them realize that potential against us.”
The Stars were a step quicker than the Mariners throughout the first period, and with plenty of open ice to work with due to five Homer penalties and two stretches with both teams skating a player short, Soldotna turned that advantage into four goals.
Holly Perkins got the scoring going just 42 seconds into the game as Soldotna was able to apply pressure from the start. Perkins knocked in a puck played in front of the net, with Whitney Ischi and Brian Herring assisting on the play.
Ben Christianson made it 2-0 3:06 into the period as each team had four skaters on the ice. Herring played a long pass out of Soldotna’s zone for Christianson, who collected it just outside the Homer blue line and was in alone on Mariners’ goaltender Ben Miller.
Homer’s Justin Adams scored a shorthanded goal on a breakaway 51 seconds later, but the Stars added two more goals before the first intermission. Christianson made a quick move to the goal off a faceoff in the Homer zone to net his second tally of the night at 8:50 of the period, and Herring tallied 15 seconds later, finishing off a Soldotna rush with Perkins and Christianson picking up the assists.
Homer netted a goal early in the second period as Josh Pitta took a shot from the right faceoff circle and caught Soldotna goaltender Chance Rockett moving the wrong way. Justin Adams and Beau Greenwald were credited with assists on the play at 3:11 of the period.
Soldotna regained its three-goal lead at 7:22 of the period as Herring found the back of the net on a shot from the slot. Christianson assisted on the play.
The pace of the second period slowed as both teams made several trips to the penalty box five for the Stars and four for the Mariners. Homer had a good opportunity to cut into Soldotna’s lead late in the period as the Mariners found themselves with a two-man advantage, but Rockett came up with five saves and Christianson nearly scored on a shorthanded bid as the Stars killed off the penalties.
Homer coach John Butcher expressed frustration with the number of penalties called Homer finished the game with 14 and characterized many of the calls as “ridiculous.”
“It’s pretty hard to play shorthanded the whole game,” said Butcher.
The Mariners were coming off a close game with Kenai Central at Homer on Friday, and Butcher said his squad was allowed to play a physical game against the Kardinals.
“We tried to come out and do the same thing, but it didn’t work out. This was a game we were thinking about winning,” Butcher said.
Swanson said the number of penalties called disrupted the flow of the game, and said his team needed to adjust faster when Homer came out playing a more physical game in the second period.
“They started taking the play to us physically, and it took us a while to react to it,” Swanson said. “There were a lot of penalties on both sides, and it definitely slowed the pace of the game down.”
Perkins, a freshman, earned kudos from Swanson for her effort. She netted her second goal of the game on a Soldotna power play at 12:09 of the third period, assisted by Herring.
“All in all, all the kids played well,” Swanson said.
STARS 6, MARINERS 2
Homer 1 1 0 2
Soldotna 4 1 1 6
First period 1. Soldotna, Perkins (Ischi, Herring), 0:42; 2. Soldotna, Christianson (Herring), 3:06; 3. Homer, Adams (unassisted), 3:57 (sh); 4. Soldotna, Christianson (unassisted), 8:50 (pp); 5. Soldotna, Herring (Perkins, Christianson), 9:05. Penalties Homer 5 for 10:00, Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Second period 6. Homer, Pitta (Adams, Greenwald), 3:11; 7. Soldotna, Herring (Christianson), 7:22. Penalties Homer 4 for 8:00, Soldotna 5 for 10:00.
Third period 8. Soldotna, Perkins (Herring), 12:09 (pp). Penalties Homer 5 for 10:00, Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Shots Homer 5-9-216, Soldotna 9-9-624.
Goalies Homer, Miller (24 shots, 18 saves); Soldotna, Rockett (16 shots, 14 saves).
Kenai Central 2, Homer 1
The Kenai Central hockey team came back from a 1-0 deficit in the second period to defeat Homer 2-1 Friday night in Homer in North Star Conference action.
Justin Adams, on an assist from Beau Greenwald, scored with 12:11 left in the second period to give Homer the lead. However, Owen Dukowitz scored in the second period and then again in the third period to get the Kardinals the victory. The first goal was assisted by Brad Fusaro while the second goal was assisted by Fusaro and Paul Drennen.
Homer goalie Ben Miller was able to keep the Mariners in the game with 41 saves. Ben Boycott had 13 saves for the Kardinals.
KARDINALS 2, MARINERS 1
Kenai Central 0 1 1 2
Homer 0 1 0 1
First period none. Penalties Kenai 1 for 2:00; Homer 2 for 4:00.
Second period 1. Homer, Adams (Greenwald), 2:49; 2. Kenai, Dukowitz (Fusaro), 8:20. Penalties Kenai 3 for 6:00; Homer 2 for 4:00.
Third period 3. Kenai, Dukowitz (Fusaro, Drennen), 4:46. Penalties Kenai 3 for 6:00; Homer 4 for 8:00.
Shots on goal Kenai 14-14-1543; Homer 4-5-514.
Goalies Kenai, Boycott (14 shots, 13 saves); Homer, Miller (43 shots, 41 saves).
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