The visiting Kenai Kardinals fell in a Southcentral Conference match-up with the Homer Mariners on Tuesday, though not without a fight.
Homer started off strong, gaining a 4-0 lead in the first period with two goals each from Ethan Pitzman and Tyler Gilliland. In the second period, Kenai and Homer each notched a goal, bringing the score to 5-1. The Kardinals then out-scored Homer in the last period 3-2 for a final score of 7-4. Two of Kenai’s goals in the third period came within the last minute of the game.
“The reality of that game is if we played three periods of hockey, it would have been a real tight game,” said Kenai head coach Jacob Newton. “We gave up four in the first, and ended up losing 7-4, so if you take away the first (period) and do the math, we’re right in that game.”
Newton said his players didn’t really come out until the second and third period.
“Ideally, when you’re on the road, you stay even or ahead every period,” he said. “If you can stay even or ahead every period you’ll win the games, and we just, we didn’t win the first period.
Jordan Knudsen and Jacob Begich each had a pair of goals for the Kardinals. Knudsen also contributed two assists, while Begich and Zach Burnett added assists as well.
Homer coach Steve Nevak said he thought his team did fairly well, but that they could have done better.
“It was our first game back from Christmas break and just one practice under our belt,” he said.
For the Mariners, Gilliland led Homer with three goals and an assist. Pitzman brought two assists in addition to his two goals. Alden Ross also contributed a goal along with Hunter Green, a freshman. His unassisted goal scored on a breakaway early in the third period was his first varsity goal.
“I kinda saw it go to the D and I just figured I’d read it and try to intercept it, and just went down (and) finished it,” Green said. “You know, just did my job.”
He said he was excited by how the team worked together for the goals Tuesday night.
Green wasn’t the only freshman player out on the ice. The Mariners are missing a few players, so Nevak has been rotating more of his younger skaters in.
“We try to play everyone… change things up, try new things,” he said. “We’ve got to work on that … on trying to find the right mixture of kids.”
Kazden Stineff, Austin Shafford and Tucker Weston also had assists.
Mariners 7, Kardinals 4
Kenai 0, 1, 3 — 4
Homer 4, 1, 2 — 7
First period — 1. Homer, Pitzman (Gilliland), 6:54; 2. Homer, Gilliland (Shafford), 8:23; 3. Homer, Pitzman (Weston), 8:50; 4. Homer, Gilliland (Pitzman), 14:05. Penalties — Homer 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 5. Kenai, Knudsen (un), 0:47; 6. Homer, Gilliland (Pitzman), 11:03. Penalties — Kenai 1 for 2:00; Homer 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 7. Homer, Ross (Stineff), 1:20; 8. Homer, Green (un.), 2:54; 9. Kenai, Begich (Knudsen), 5:14; 10. Kenai, Knudsen (Begich, Burnett), 14:13; 11. Kenai, Begich (Knudsen), 14:29. Penalties — Kenai 1 for 2:00; Homer 3 for 9:00.