Johnny Mills and Ben Tikka each scored a pair of goals, but it was Derek Martin who provided the spark for the Soldotna High School hockey team with a goal and an assist in his return from injury as the Stars defeated Colony 6-3 in a North Star Conference game Friday at the Soldotna Sports Center.
"It was nice to see the kids come out in the second period and put some rubber on the Colony goal," said Soldotna coach Pat Nolden. "And it was nice to have Martin back. He gave us that little spark to get things going."
In fact, Martin netted an unassisted goal at 6:49 of the second period to tie the score at 2, then combined with Peter Kim to set up Mills' second tally at 10:42 of the period to give Soldotna the lead for good.
"It felt good to get out on the ice again and play. I was getting bored watching from the stands," Martin said.
Soldotna outshot the tight-checking Knights 12-8 during the second period, then Stars netminder Egan Gleason came up with a pair of big saves to open the third period to keep the Stars on top.
"He played a great game," Martin said of his goalie. "He saved us a lot of times. (Colony) had a bunch of odd-man breaks."
Mills opened the scoring for the Stars with 1:26 left in the first period, assisted by Tikka and Hunter Sirois.
Colony answered with two seconds left until the first intermission, and took its only lead of the game with a goal 30 seconds into the second period.
After Martin tied it and Mills potted the go-ahead goal, Tikka scored his first of the game at 11:38 of the second period, assisted by Nels Hansen, and netted his second, assisted by Sirois and Brian Herring, at 3:32 of the third period.
Daniel Potton scored the final Soldotna goal of the game at 10:01 of the third period, unassisted.
Martin said he had heard that Colony was down this year, so the Knights played better than he expected.
"We've heard they had all right talent, but didn't have (an experienced) goalie," Martin said. "They came out and played tough. They always do, and tonight wasn't any different."
With the win, Soldotna (7-2 overall and 3-0 in NSC play) remains in first place in the conference standings heading into the holiday break.
"It's real nice to go in before the Christmas break and get yourself in position to get a good seed" for the conference tournament, Nolden said.
Seeding will be important come tournament time as every team in the region has shown the potential to be competitive.
"It should be a great tournament. All the teams are pretty evenly matched," Martin said.
STARS 6, KNIGHTS 3
Colony 1 1 1 -- 3
Soldotna 1 3 2 -- 6
First period -- 1. Soldotna, Mills (Tikka, Sirois), 13:34; 2. Colony, Peltz (Crosta), 14:58. Penalties -- Colony 1 for 2:00, Soldotna 3 for 6:00.
Second period -- 3. Colony, Shultz (No. 3), 1:30; 4. Soldotna, Martin (unassisted), 6:49; 5. Soldotna, Mills (Kim, Martin), 10:42; 6. Soldotna, Tikka (Hansen), 11:38. Penalties -- Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Third period -- 7. Soldotna, Tikka (Sirois, B. Herring), 3:32; 8. Colony, Luthi (Ladourakis), 9:23 (pp); 9. Soldotna, Potton (unassisted), 10:01. Penalties -- Colony 3 for 6:00, Soldotna 4 for 8:00.
Shots -- Colony 13-8-14--35, Soldotna 5-12-7--24.
Goalies -- Colony, Rein (24 shots, 18 saves); Soldotna, Gleason (35 shots, 32 saves).
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