Mariner hockey went up against the Soldotna Stars in the first game of the North Star Conference hockey tournament on Feb. 4 at Sport Center in Soldotna. The game was close in the first and second periods, but ended with a 3-2 loss for Homer.
“We out shot them but could not finish and score,” said Mariner hockey head coach John Carlin. “Soldotna played a very hard nosed game. They played well enough to win tonight, but have their hands full Friday against number one seed Palmer, a very dominant team. As the sole representative of the Peninsula now we wish them luck.”
Though the Soldotna Stars did come out victorious against Palmer in Friday’s game, Colony shut out the Stars in a 3-0 game for the NSC title on Saturday. However, Soldotna will still advance to the state tournament as well — for the first time in two years.
During the game against Soldotna, Mariner goalie Riley Swanson saved 20 out of 23 shots on Homer’s goal.
“Our athletes played hard, and finished the season as they started it with an intensity we needed throughout. We have taken our lumps this year. This was a rebuilding year with fourteen of twenty athletes either freshman or sophomore,” said Carlin. “I would not be surprised if this group punches their ticket to the state tournament within two years.”
Sophomore Mariner Charlie Menke brought the game to a tie in the first period with a goal, assisted by senior Hunter Tillion, at 10:54 during a power play. A second power play for the Mariners made way for a goal from Garrett Butcher, tying the score at 2-2 at 5:04 in the second period. Tillion also assisted in Butcher’s goal.
After Soldotna scored a third goal at 36 seconds in the second period, the score remained at 3-2 for the rest of the game.
At the tournament awards banquet held the evening of Feb. 4, the Mariners were recognized for their skills and sportsmanship on the ice. Daniel Wiest was named to the Good Sportsmanship Team. Riley Swanson was named to the Honorable Mention All-Conference Tournament Team. Dawson Roberts and Hunter Tillion were named to the 2nd All-Conference Tournament Team.
Anna Frost can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.