The Kenai Central High School alumni team captured its first winning trophy since 1995 by beating a squad of Soldotna alumni 6-4 Saturday in the sixth annual Kenai-Soldotna Alumni Hockey Classic at the Soldotna Sports Center.
"It was a pretty spirited game," Bob Downs, bench boss for the winning side, said. "It sure lived up to all the expectations of the coaches and players."
Kenai trailed by a goal, 4-3, entering the final period of play, but Brian Canady found the back of the net twice in the final 10 minutes of play for the Kardinals alumni and Rick Swanson added a power-play goal with 47 seconds left in the game to ice the win.
Soldotna coach Mike Gabriel said it was a war of attrition for his side.
"There were quite a few penalties -- it was one of those typical alumni games," Gabriel said. "We lost a few guys for fighting. At one point in the third period, I looked down my bench and I thought David Copperfield was doing a magic trick with my team. They kept disappearing."
Kenai also lost several players for their overly enthusiastic play, but Gabriel said the depth on the Kenai bench made a difference.
"Every alumni game's different, depending on who's coming into town and which way the puck bounces," Gabriel said. "Once you lose a couple of players against a team that talented, you have to play conservative defense."
Kenai outshot Soldotna 22-10 in the opening period, though both teams went to the locker room for the first intermission with a goal on the scoreboard. Soldotna's Ben DeRaeve scored the first goal of the game 3:41 into the first period, assisted by Joey Newby and Cory Dietmer.
Travis Every answered for Kenai midway through the period, assisted by Lief Swanson and Jeremy Downs.
Play was much tighter through the second period, and the teams finished off the stanza with five goals between them in the final seven minutes.
Ian Tracey scored for Soldotna, assisted by Tony Gabriel, with 6:54 showing on the clock. Tim Newby gave the Stars a two-goal lead 3:33 later when he found the back of the net, courtesy of an assist from younger brother Joey Newby.
Jeremy Downs cut the lead back down to a goal with 2:58 left in the period, assisted by Jimmy White and Dustin Every.
Chris Gabriel got one more goal for the Stars with 1:39 left in the period, assisted by Don Cho, but Kenai's Johnny Bea netted the final goal of the flurry, assisted by Bryon Coleman, 13 seconds later.
Canady tied the game for the Kardinals with an unassisted goal midway through the final period, then scored the go-ahead goal with an assists from Rick Swanson and Bea with 3:40 left in the game.
Swanson's power-play goal, the final goal of the game, came at 19:13 of the third period. Canady earned the assist on the play.
Nick Wirz played the entire game in the Kenai net, turning aside 30 of the 34 shots he faced. Kyle Waisanan and Derek Eagle shared netminding duties for the Soldotna squad, combining for 51 saves on 57 shots.
Both Bob Downs and Mike Gabriel said they were thrilled to see Kenai win the trophy.
"It was good to give Kenai the trophy," Gabriel said. "We had a good run. It went to the better team."
"Mike Gabriel was very gracious," Downs said. "He brought the trophy into the locker room -- along with some cold drinks."
Kenai 6, Soldotna 4
Soldotna 1 3 0 -- 4
Kenai 1 2 3 -- 6
First period -- 1. Soldotna, Ben DeRaeve (Joey Newby, Cory Dietmer), 3:41; 2. Kenai, Travis Every (Lief Swanson, Jeremy Downs), 10:50. Penalties -- Scott Sheldon, Ken (roughing), 0:27; Ben DeRaeve, Sol (being stupid), 12:57; Tom Tomerdly, Ken (being stupid), 12:57.
Second period -- 3. Soldotna, Ian Tracey (Tony Gabriel), 13:06; 4. Soldotna, Tim Newby (Joey Newby), 16:39; 5. Kenai, Jeremy Downs (Jimmy White, Dustin Every), 17:02; 6. Soldotna, Chris Gabriel (Don Cho), 18:21; 7. Kenai, Johnny Bea (Bryon Coleman), 18:34. Penalties -- Rick Swanson, Ken (roughing), 4:47; Tim McCarthy, Ken (roughing), 8:38; Joey Newby, Sol (roughing), 10:19.
Third period -- 8. Kenai, Brian Canady (unassisted), 10:46; 9. Kenai, Brian Canady (Rick Swanson, Johnny Bea), 16:20; 10. Kenai, Rick Swanson (Brian Canady), 19:13 (pp). Penalties -- Ian Tracey, Sol (high stick), 4:42; Terry Eubank, Ken (roughing), 4:42; Tim McCarthy, Ken (roughing-misconduct) 4:58; Jim Love, Sol, (tripping), 8:03; Bryon Coleman, Ken, (tripping), 9:41; Eric Downs, Ken (roughing), 12:21; Joey Newby, Sol (roughing), 12:21; Jeremy Downs, Ken (roughing), 12:21; Tim Newby, Sol (roughing-misconduct), 12:21; Frank Kilfoyle, Ken (roughing-misconduct), 14:02; Lee Green, Sol (high stick), 19:06.
Shots on goal -- Soldotna 10-14-10--34, Kenai 22-19-16--57.
Goalies -- Soldotna, Waisanan (31 shots, 30 saves), Eagle (26 shots, 21 saves); Kenai, Wirz (34 shots, 30 saves).
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