WASILLA — A barrage of shots downed one team and a late tip bounced the other as a pair of central Kenai Peninsula squads watched their seasons come to an end during the first day of the North Star Conference Championships at the Menard Arena in Wasilla.
Homer’s Kiril Sanarov tipped in a deflection off an Anton Kuzmin blast with 1 minute, 37 seconds, left in the extra period to lead Homer to a 2-1 overtime win over Soldotna late Thursday in the NSC quarterfinals. Earlier in the day, Colony blasted Kenai 5-0.
Sanarov’s tally was one of two unanswered goals for the fifth-seeded Mariners, who move forward to play top-seeded Wasilla tonight at 7:15 p.m. in the semifinals. Sanarov also set up the game-tying tally late in the third.
With 5:30 remaining, Sanarov sent a sharp pass across the zone to Owen Delehanty. Sitting alone in the right wing circle, Delehanty snapped a shot high into the net.
Soldotna’s Ty Fenton gave the team a lead late in the first period. Seconds after Homer was whistled for its first penalty of the game, the Stars won a faceoff and sent the pass back to the point. Calvin Hills threw a puck toward the net. After Justice Miller got a piece of it, Fenton tapped a deflection in for the score.
Earlier in the day, Colony outshot Kenai 54-13 en route to the 5-0 win over the Kards.
Five different players scored in the win to help the Knights move ahead to meet rival Palmer tonight at 5 p.m. in the semifinals.
Five different scorers also helped Colony strike against Kenai’s sturdy goaltender, Nate O’Lena. The senior finished with 49 saves in the game, and stopped at least 15 shots in every period. He had 18 saves in the first.
The Knights scored twice during a one-minute span early in the first period to take the lead. With just more than 12 minutes left in the first period, Cooper Smith knocked in the rebound of a Jake Hessinger shot to give the Knights the 1-0 advantage. Less than a minute later, Jake Branch reached for a loose puck between the circles, and snapped a shot high into the net.
Both of Colony’s second-period goals came on the power play. Jacob Link scored with the advent with 13:03 left in the second to push Colony’s lead to three goals. Logan Sanders added a power-play tally with 35 seconds left in the period.
Cole Bloomer rounded out the scoring for the Knights, adding a goal with 2:57 left in regulation.
Tonight will mark the fourth meeting of the season between Colony and rival Palmer. The teams split a pair of conference games within a four-day span. Six different players scored during a 6-1 Knights win over the Moose in the teams’ first conference meeting of the season. Four days later, Palmer goaltender Cody Grogan made 31 saves to help the Moose edge Colony 1-0.