The Mariner hockey team crushed the competition on Thursday, Jan. 28, at the last home game of the season, shutting down Kenai Central High 7-2.
Following the win, the Mariners will play in regions at the Sport Center in Soldotna beginning today. They play Soldotna High School at 4 p.m. If the Mariners defeat the Stars, they will match up against Palmer on Friday at 7:30 p.m. A win against Palmer then would mean facing off against either Kenai, Wasilla or Colony at the championship game at 4:15 p.m. Saturday.
The Wolverines settled for a split Tuesday evening at home against the Warriors in Peninsula Conference action.
The Ninilchik boys toppled Nikolaevsk 64-54, sending the Warriors to their first conference loss of the season. Ninilchik exploded out of the gates with 28 points, led by 13 from Austin White, en route to a 35-30 lead at halftime. White ended the night with 17 points (all in the first half), while teammate Dalton Geppert notched a game-high 19. Jonah Fefelov led Nikolaevsk with 16 points.
The Mariners came out 1-1 in a two-game series against Bartlett last weekend. Friday’s game saw a 4-3 overtime Mariner victory, which was the second game won in a row that week by the hockey team. However, luck turned on Saturday, and Bartlett defeated the Mariners with a score of 5-3.
Though Bartlett started out with the advantage in points on Friday, the Mariners rallied and took back their home turf at the end of the game.
Though the girls varsity basketball game on Friday, Jan. 22, started off with Nikiski points, it ended with a Mariner victory. However the boys fell to their opponents, despite a strong first quarter.
Girls: Mariners 43, Bulldogs 33
The girls team finished off Nikiski with a final score of 43-33, a satisfying victory for the team. The Mariners won against Nikiski at the Nikiski Tip-Off Tournament a week ago, and the pressure was on to get a home court win.
Homer High School’s Nordic ski team had skiers in the mix at the Besh Cup last weekend, representing Kachemak Nordic Race Development Team.
Conditions on the slopes made for good racing, according to two of Homer’s skiers, sophomores Sarah Wolf and Jacob Davis.
Mariner hockey competed in three conference games this past weekend, facing off against Palmer on Jan. 14, Colony on Jan. 15 and Wasilla on Jan. 16.
All three games ended in losses for Homer, but the Mariners redeemed themselves with a 3-2 win over Soldotna on Jan. 19. (See related story, page 12.)
Carlin said the Mariners had come closer than the score indicated in the losing games.
Homer’s Nordic ski team raced in Wasilla’s Rally in the Valley race at Government Peak on Jan. 15 and 16, where the temperatures in the high-teens to mid-20s and sunny skies made for ideal conditions on the trails.
The girls placed well in their classes, with senior Rachel Ellert taking seventh place among the varsity girls and junior varsity skier Katie Davis taking home a first place ribbon. Davis came in first, approximately a minute or more ahead of the second place skier, in both her races.
Kevin Bell Arena filled up with 83 women from Healy, Anchorage, Kenai, Homer, Wasilla and Soldotna, ready to play hockey. This year’s winter jamboree tournament theme, Villains and Heroes, saw team names such as “Wrap-A-Round Witches” while players warmed up in superhero capes.
The Goal Scoring Goodfellas won the jamboree.
Saturday, the Soldotna hockey team defeated Colony 6-2 to knock the Knights out of a first-place tie in the North Star Conference.
Tuesday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, the Stars lost 3-2 in overtime to Homer, which entered the game 0-8 in NSC play.
It could be a doozy of a conference hockey tournament at the sports complex from Feb. 4 to 6.
“We’re going to line up against somebody in the region tournament and play our hearts out,” Homer Coach John Carlin said. “Tonight was just what we needed.
Mariners hockey travelled to play Chugiak and Eagle River in non-conference games on Jan. 8 and 9. Though both games were losses, Coach John Carlin and the players agreed both games were growing experiences for the team.
“We got everybody off the beach because I wanted every kid to be hot and sweaty and the end of it,” Carlin said.
The Homer High School wrestling team closed the season with a banquet at the Best Western Bidarka Inn on Jan. 9, celebrating their players and the team’s state championship win. Head wrestling coach and athletic director Chris Perk congratulated his players on sticking to their team motto of “embrace the grind,” which he attributed to their success.
This weekend’s weather brought the Homer Nordic Ski Invitational to an abrupt finish when the rain forced coaches to cancel the second day. Though Friday went smoothly, Saturday’s conditions could not be salvaged for a day of racing.
Friday’s weather was unexpectedly excellent, wrote assistant coach Alison O’Hara in an email.
The Mariner girls varsity basketball came out victorious over Mt. Edgecumbe’s Lady Braves during games on Jan. 7 and Jan. 8.
The Mariners and Lady Braves were locked in a tight struggle for the win on Jan. 7. Mariners led with a one point difference at the end of the third quarter and ended with a score of 43-40, thanks to three points by Kayla Stafford.
The Mariners girls basketball team scored a nonconference win over the Kenai Kardinals Tuesday evening, led by the 19 points by senior Madison Akers.
Kenai junior Lara Creighton matched that with 19 points of her own in the Kardinals loss, which dropped them to 1-7 overall for the season. Homer moved to 3-1 overall.
The final score was Homer girls 45, Kenai 35.
On the boys side, the Kardinals tallied 26 points in the second quarter to pull away for a 71-33 nonconference victory over the Mariners.
The rainy weather has not beaten Homer High School’s Nordic ski teams’ plans. As of Tuesday, Coach Alan Parks says he expects the Homer Invitational to go on as scheduled Friday and Saturday.
There is enough snow on the Ohlson Mountain Lookout Trails to ski on, Parks said. Though Homer saw only rain in the last week, it snowed at higher elevations. The main consideration for Parks now is the safety of the course, which became icy after Monday’s rain.
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.
At the Class 2A, 3A and 4A levels — or those schools 61 students and above — even the best basketball programs will have rebuilding seasons.
At the Class 1A level — or those schools with 60 students or less — even the best programs will have seasons where they can’t even field a team.
The Cook Inlet Academy boys squad, which won state titles in 1999, 2002 and 2005 and reached another state final in 2003, will be dormant this year.
With such close parity in competition in the Class 3A Southcentral Conference, basketball teams on the Kenai Peninsula will be facing a long road full of challenges en route to the region tournament in early March.
Add one more to the mix.
Saturday night inside the packed Bartlett High gym, the Homer wrestling team celebrated an occasion almost 30 years in the making.
The Mariners captured the Class 1-2-3A state team championship to win their fourth state title in school history and first since 1986, piling up 212 points to capture the team championship. Perennial contender Bethel finished second with 168 points, while defending champions Kotzebue were third with 138.5 points.
Registration has started for MicroBells, the learn-to-skate-through-hockey class at the Kevin Bell Ice Arena.
MicroBells is for ages 4-8 and is free for brand new participants. Gear is provided.
Classes run from Jan. 10-March 20. Space is limited.
For registration details and instructions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.