After loss to SoHi, Mariners look for win this weekend

  • Forward Robby Larson dives for the puck as Charlie Menke on the Mariner defense sweeps it away from Soldotna’s players during Tuesday night’s game at the Kevin Bell Arena.-photo by Anna Frost, Homer News

The Mariner hockey team’s face-off against rivals Soldotna High on Tuesday night ended with a 4-to-1 loss, despite an impressive offense and power plays from the Mariners. The closing minutes of the game saw an especially powerful Mariners effort.

“We turned it on at the end how we wanted to play the whole game and, maybe some kids ate too much Christmas cookies or something, but that’s how we normally come out and play,” said Mariner Assistant Coach Asa Stage.

Soldotna scored early on in the game, just five minutes after the 7 p.m. start. Shortly after, the Stars followed up with a second goal. However, several goal attempts from Soldotna did not make it to the net, thanks to the efforts of junior goalie Riley Swanson. Swanson continued to make several saves throughout the game, most notably during the second period when Riley caught the puck in the last second.

“I just try to stay focused, try to visualize myself, I just try to keep my energy and focus up, make sure my eyes are glued to the puck,” Swanson said.

During the second period, the Mariners offense played hard, dominating the ice for long periods of time. The offense was able to keep the plays at Soldotna’s net, and thwarted the away team’s two breakaway attempts. Even within Soldotna’s attack zone, however, the puck did not make it into the net for the Mariners. With seven minutes left in the period, a Soldotna penalty gave the Mariners a 5-on-4 power play. Visibly energized, the Mariners pressed fervently against Soldotna’s goal, but no goals resulted. 

Finally, Soldotna took control again and made a third goal with 3:50 left in the period.

Soldotna’s last goal came early in the third period, and was followed by some impassioned plays on the Mariners’ part. During a Mariners 5-on-3 power play, sophomore forward Dimitry Kuzmin whipped the puck into Soldotna’s net. 

“I had the open shot, I just had to find an open spot, I looked and right under his arm was wide open and I just put it there. Cashed in, it was good,” Kuzmin said after the game.

In the six minutes remaining in the game after Kuzmin’s goal, the Mariners’ spirits were visibly revived. The pace of the game quickened fiercely as the Mariners again dominated the ice and made several goal attempts on Soldotna. 

Tensions ran high between players near the end, with referees twice breaking up near fisticuffs between two players after a Soldotna player hit a Mariner with his stick. 

Both Kuzmin and Stage noted the suspension of senior captain Dawson Roberts hit the team’s morale hard. Roberts stands to come back soon, Stage said, which will benefit the team. 

Though the end score disappointed, the Mariners look forward to improving in the coming weeks as the season comes to a close. The team travels to Anchorage for their next game against Eagle River at 1:30 Saturday at the Harry J. McDonald Memorial Center.

“They’ve done really good and a lot of the losses that we’ve had, the puck hasn’t gone our way. We’ve been really close in almost all our games, this one not as close, but the puck just isn’t going in the net for some reason,” Stage said. 

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