It was a weekend of hockey away from home last weekend as the Mariners went up against Service and Eagle River. Today begins three days of hockey action at the Kevin Bell Arena, with the Mariners playing host to Palmer, Colony and Wasilla.
The Jan. 9 game against Service was the first time this season the Mariners have played what may be the top high school hockey team in the state. Service claimed a 3-0 shut out, but goalie Markian Polushkin and the Mariners made sure very few rebounds were left dangling in the slot and minimized passes, allowing Polushkin to focus on the shooter.
“Markian’s pro,” said Woape Huffman. “He is the last man back there and he stopped a lot of shots.”
Returning to the ice after a three-week absence due to a hockey injury, Charlie Menke said, “We played pretty well, but we can still do better. Our power play struggled. We haven’t practiced against the aggressive style of penalty kill we saw from Service.”
The non-conference game against Service was “a wake-up call,” said Polushkin. “You play one of the best teams in Alaska and who knows what you can do.”
The following day, Homer took on Eagle River at the McDonald Center in Eagle River. It was the second time the two teams have met this season. At the Peninsula Ice Challenge in Soldotna in November, Eagle River claimed a 4-2 win, with a 5-1 victory in the Jan. 10 game. Owen Delehanty scored for the Mariners; Riley Swanson stopped 32 of Eagle River’s shots.
This weekend, a Mariner junior varsity team also will be on the ice.
“(Head Coach John Carlin) decided since the valley teams have JV teams, we’d try it out and see how we do,” said Chris Perk, activities director for Homer High School. “The last two years we haven’t had enough numbers, but this year we do.”
Having played two of the state’s top teams, the Mariners feel confident going into this weekend’s action.
“We found out what we’re doing wrong,” said Delehanty.
Fan support — the louder, the better — factors large in the team’s strategy.
“That’s what we want. It pumps us up,” said Kiril Sanarov.
The Mariners’ last at-home game is Tuesday, when they take on the SoHi Stars. It also is senior night, celebrating the parents of senior skaters and providing a last opportunity for seniors to showcase their talent before the hometown crowd.
Wendy Wayne also contributed to this story.
Watch them play:
6:15 p.m. Mariners JVs vs Palmer
7:30 p.m. Mariners vs Palmer
7:30 p.m. Mariners vs. Colony
12:30 p.m. Mariners vs. Wasilla
7 p.m. Mariners vs. SoHi, Senior Night
6 p.m. Mariner vs. Kenai at Soldotna