Eagle River hockey drops Kenai Central on Day 2 of Peninsula Ice Challenge
That’s how Kenai Central hockey coach Pete Iverson summed up Friday’s 2-1 loss to Eagle River on Day 2 of the Peninsula Ice Challenge at the Soldotna Sports Center.
The Kardinals, who beat North Pole 3-1 on the tournament’s opening night Thursday, fell behind 2-0 before scoring late in the third period to keep it close.
“I was glad to see we kept playing all the way through,” Iverson said. ”But I’m a little disappointed we got ourselves in that situation.”
The Wolves and Kards both have two points going into Saturday’s tournament finale, when Eagle River faces North Pole at 6:15 p.m. and Kenai Central faces Soldotna at 8:45 p.m.
Both games are at the sports center.
Friday, Brett Wood and Brant Bennett notched goals for the Wolves, who outshot the Kards 30-16.
A night after losing 3-0 to SoHi, Eagle River struck in the second period on the power play.
The Kards were two men down for a 12-second stretch thanks to a pair of penalties, and the Wolves converted when Wyatt Beebe fed Wood with three seconds left on the 5-on-3 advantage and less than four minutes remaining in the period.
And power plays haven’t been particularly friendly to the Wolves.
“We haven’t been super successful,” Senden said, “so it was nice to get the green light on that one.”
Bennett made it 2-0 with less than six minutes to go after teammate Jesse Johnson ripped a shot wide to the right.
The puck caromed off the boards to Bennett, who quickly nudged it past Kenai Central goaltender Keegan Remsen.
Bennett’s goal proved the difference on a night the Wolves nearly doubled the Kards’ shot total.
“They kept steady pressure on us the whole game,” Iverson said. “And we kind of played that game instead of our game.”
Yet Kenai Central gave itself a chance late in the contest.
Zack Zulkanycz, who had a hat trick in Thursday’s win, cut the lead in half with 2:38 to play when he finished a breakaway.
The senior took the puck the length of the ice and with a defender riding his hip, blasted a high shot past goalie Andrew Shortridge.
Zulkanycz, who trained with the Kenai River Brown Bears before the prep season, has scored all of Kenai Central’s goals.
“He’s a big contributor to the team,” Iverson said. “You can tell he’s been playing with the big boys.”
The Kards pulled their goalie following a Wolves timeout with about a minute to play, but couldn’t convert despite keeping the puck on Eagle River’s side of the ice down to the final buzzer.
It was the first win this year for the Wolves, who had been outscored 8-1 entering the game.
“The guys are super excited,” Senden said. “We almost gave it away, but we aren’t a program with a huge winning record so we’re just learning to win. The guys put it together.”
Wolves 2, Kardinals 1
Eagle River 0 1 1 --2
Kenai Central 0 0 1 --1
First period – None. Penalties – Eagle River 1 for 2:00; Kenai Central none.
Second period – 1. Eagle River, Wood (Beebe), pp, 11:46. Penalties – Eagle River 1 for 2:00; Kenai Central 2 for 4:00.
Third period – 2. Eagle River, Bennett (Wescott, Johnson), 9:19; 3. Kenai Central, Zulkanycz (Morse, McDermott), 12:22. Penalties – none.
Shots on goal – Eagle River(8-9-13—30); Kenai Central (3-2-11—16).
Goalies – Eagle River, Shortridge (16 shots, 15 saves); Kenai Central, Remsen (30 shots, 28 saves).
Power plays – Eagle River 1 for 2; Kenai Central 0 for 2.