Soldotna, Kenai start Ice Challenge with wins
Jonas Perletti hoped to have a fast start. He turned the wish into reality.
The Soldotna junior scored two goals in the first period, leading the Stars to a 3-0 victory Thursday over Eagle River on the opening night of the Peninsula Ice Challenge at the Soldotna Sports Center.
“I knew if we didn’t get the momentum, it was going to be a tough game,” said Perletti, a forward. “I was trying to come out strong, and I was just really thinking about goals before the game.”
It was the season opener for the Stars, who face North Pole on Day 2 of the round-robin event at 9 p.m. Friday and Kenai Central at 8:45 p.m. Saturday. The Wolves (0-2) face Kenai Central at 6:45 p.m. Friday and North Pole at 6:15 p.m. Saturday. All games are at the sports center.
Perletti finished assists from Max Hegge and Josh Kerkvliet on his first strike and converted a Jarrett Urban pass on the second, giving the Stars a 2-0 lead with nine minutes remaining in the opening frame.
Nick Wrobel capped the scoring with a third-period goal, and sophomore goaltender Cody Harvey was perfect in his varsity debut, making 21 saves.
SoHi coach Aaron Swanson didn’t call it his team’s best performance, but he was pleased with the result.
“There were definitely some mistakes out there, but that’s to be expected on opening night,” Swanson said.
Eagle River had just 12 skaters available on the heels of a 5-1 season-opening loss to Wasilla and was sluggish in the first.
The Wolves, who don’t have any seniors, looked uncertain and tentative, managing three shots over the first 15 minutes while surrendering seven.
“I think it might have been us trying to get our legs back underneath us,” coach Kirby Senden said of the opening period. “We are still trying to figure out how to play in the system.”
The second frame may have been the most even as both sides managed 10 shots. SoHi and Eagle River also had one power-play chance apiece, but neither converted.
At times the Stars were sloppy with the puck, but Harvey bailed them out. The sophomore is one of three SoHi goalies vying for the starting position.
“Harvey came out and played a nice game,” Swanson said. “I thought we did a good job of minimizing their high-quality chances. It was a good way to get a varsity career started, for sure.”
On the other side, Justin Lopez made his debut in net for the Wolves.
He made 28 saves on 31 shots and for the most part was steady following the two-goal first, receiving help from defensemen Brett Wood and Quinn Hulse.
Lopez was among a handful of Wolves who took the ice for the first time at the varsity level Friday.
“It was exciting to get some guys in that have never played high school hockey — getting that first one under their belt,” Senden said.
Meanwhile, SoHi did most of its damage with Perletti, Urban and Dagen Walton teaming up on a line.
Perletti’s first goal came when he chipped the puck past Lopez on a soft shot. The second came after he took possession near the crease and made a nice one-on-one move to find the back of the net.
Both goals, Swanson said, were a product of team play.
“Perletti scored both goals, but it was really the whole line doing the work, making things happen,” the coach said.
Kenai Central 3,
North Pole 1
Zack Zulkanycz scored a hat trick as the Kards defeated the Patriots 3-1 in Thursday’s second game of the Ice Challenge.
Zulkanycz, a senior, scored twice in the first period and again in the second to give goaltender Keegan Remsen all the help he needed.
Two of the goals by Zulkanycz were unassisted, while Riley Weber earned the assist on the other.
North Pole shaved into the lead midway through the third on a Cole Morrow goal, assisted by Jonathan Slater.
The Kards face Eagle River at 6:30 p.m. Friday and SoHi at 8:45 p.m. Saturday. Both games are at the sports center.
Kardinals 3, Patriots 1
First period – 1. Kenai Central, Zulkanycz (Weber),6:15; 2. Kenai Central, Zulkanycz (unassisted), 12:06. Penalties – North Pole 1 for 2:00; Kenai Central 2 for 4:00.
Second period – 3. Kenai Central, Zulkanycz (unassisted), 8:26. Penalties – North Pole 1 for 2:00; Kenai Central 2 for 4:00.
Third period – 4. North Pole, Morrow (Slater), 8:09. Penalties – North Pole 2 for 4:00; Kenai Central 2 for 4:00.
Goalies – North Pole, Heineken (28 shots, 25 saves); Kenai Central, Remsen (23 shots, 22 saves).
Power plays – North Pole 0 for 4; Kenai River 0 for 3.
Stars 3, Wolves 0
First period — 1. Soldotna, Perletti (Hegge, Kerkvliet), 3:13. 2. Soldotna, Perletti (Urban), 6:01. Penalties — Eagle River 1 for 2:00; Soldotna none.
Second period — No scoring. Penalties — Eagle River 2 for 4:00; Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 3. Soldotna, Wrobel (O’Lena), 10:46. Penalties — Eagle River none; Soldotna 2 for 4:00..
Shots on goal — Eagle River(3-10-8—21); Soldotna (7-10-14—31).
Goalies — Eagle River, Lopez (31 shots, 28 saves); Soldotna, Harvey (21 shots, 21 saves).
Power plays — Eagle River 0 for 4; Soldotna 0 for 2.