SoHi claims Ice Challenge
The Kenai Central and Soldotna hockey squads went to overtime in a 3-all tie on the final night of the Peninsula Ice Challenge Saturday at the Soldotna Sports Center.
The tie means the Stars earn the tournament championship with a 2-0-1 record and five points, topping runner-up Eagle River (2-1-0, four points), third-place Kenai Central (1-1-1, three points) and last-place North Pole (0-3-0, zero points).
In a back-and-forth contest, the Stars came back from a two-goal hole to tie it in the third period.
Neither team scored in the eight-minute sudden death as Kenai Central goaltender Keegan Remsen and SoHi goalie Cody Harvey held solid.
After a scoreless first period, the Kards took a 1-0 lead when Claxton Longfellow found Jake Eubank with 12:06 to play in the second. SoHi answered about four minutes later when Dalton Pearson finished assists from Max Hegge and Jacob O’Lena. It was Pearson’s third goal in two games.
The Kards then went ahead 3-1 thanks to strikes from TJ Wagoner and Zack Zulkanycz, who scored five goals during the tournament.
Jonas Perletti netted his third goal of the tournament to get the Stars within 3-2 early in the third, taking a pass from Dagen Walton.
The Stars pulled their goalie and tied the game in the dying moments when Kevin Stone beat Kenai Central goaltender Keegan Remsen with 28 seconds remaining. The assists went to Perletti and Jarrett Urban.
In Saturday’s other game, Eagle River topped North Pole 6-1.
Eagle River 2,
Kenai Central 1
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.”
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 five-on-three 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.”
Soldotna 8, North Pole 0
Forget about early season rust. The Soldotna hockey team is in peak form.
SoHi blitzed North Pole 8-0 Friday on the second night of the Peninsula Ice Challenge at the Soldotna Sports Center, dominating every phase of the game to improve to 2-0.
“It’s just impressive. Really, just solid all the way through — every line clicking right along,” SoHi coach Aaron Swanson said of Friday’s performance. “We’re very happy with the effort we had — really nothing to complain about. Hopefully we keep doing that every night.”
Dalton Pearson scored two goals and added two assists, while teammate Max Hegge scored twice and dished three assists.
Also scoring for SoHi were Dagen Walton, Nick Wrobel, Kevin Stone and Josh Kerkvliet, who also had three assists. Michael Erickson added two assists.
What it amounted to was a 3-0 lead after the first period and a 5-0 edge through two, which was more than enough for sophomore goaltender Conner Pearson, who made nine saves.
The Stars manhandled the Patriots from the opening minute as Walton began the scoring about five minutes into the contest on Erickson’s first assist. Three minutes later, Hegge found the back of the net on Erickson’s second assist and Dalton Pearson’s first. Kerkvliet then bumped the cushion to 3-0, finishing Hegge and Dalton Pearson assists with 4:19 to play.
SoHi outshot North Pole 17-3 over the first 15 minutes.
“We’ve been preaching that to the kids for a long time already now,” Swanson said of getting pucks to the net. “They hear it from us every day and tonight every line did it.”
The onslaught continued in the second as Dalton Pearson scored twice, including a short-handed goal with 3:25 remaining.
North Pole yanked starting goalie Allan Heineken after the second. The sophomore made 22 saves on 27 shots.
Dalton Pearson said chemistry was a large reason the Stars were successful on offense.
“Definitely working together, moving the puck more,” he said.
It got even uglier in the final frame, with Stone and Hegge scoring goals on power plays to make it 7-0. Wrobel finished the scoring with five seconds to play, beating reserve goalie Ian Hancock.
When the final whistle blew, the Stars had 45 shots to the Patriots’ nine.
SoHi should be competitive in the North Star Conference if it maintains this level of play.
“We feel like we can beat teams,” Hegge said. “We don’t have to always beat them 8-0, but if we work together we will come out ahead.”
Now the question is, “How good can SoHi be?”
“The kids raised the bar tonight. We’ve got a new standard of success. And with that, we’ve got something to build on,” Swanson said. “We’ll just try to keep getting better from that.”
Wolves 2, Kardinals 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.
Stars 8, Patriots 0
First period — 1. Soldotna, Walton (Erickson), 5:19; 2. Soldotna, Hegge (Erickson, D. Pearson), 8:08; 3. Soldotna, Kerkvliet (Hegge, D. Pearson), 10:41. Penalties — North Pole 2 for 4:00; Soldotna 3 for 6:00.
Second period — 4. Soldotna, D. Pearson (Kerkvliet, Hegge), pp, 3:04; 5. D. Pearson (Hegge), sh, 11:35. Penalties — North Pole 1 for 2:00; Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 6. Soldotna, Stone (Urban, Kerkvliet), pp, 1:30; 7. Soldotna, Hegge (Kerkvliet, Stone), pp, 13:35; 8. Soldotna, Wrobel (Lott), 14:55. Penalties — North Pole 2 for 4:00; Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal — North Pole (3-5-1—9); Soldotna (17-10-18—45).
Goalies — North Pole, Heineken (27 shots, 22 saves), Hancock (18 shots, 15 saves); Soldotna, C. Pearson (9 shots, 9 saves). Penalties — North Pole 3 for 6:00; Soldotna 2 for 4:00.
Power plays — North Pole 0 for 5; Soldotna 3 for 5.
Kardinals 3, Stars 3 OT
First period — None.
Second period — 1. Kenai Central, Eubank (Longfellow), 2:54; 2. Soldotna, Pearson (Hegge, O’Lena), 6:05; 3. Kenai Central, Wagoner (Short), 7:10; 4. Kenai Central, Zulkanycz (unassisted), pp.
Third period — 5. Soldotna, Perletti (Walton), 1:28; 6. Soldotna, Stone (Perletti, Urban), 14:32.