Homer’s hockey team split the second two games of its three-game weekend hosting teams from the Mat-Su Valley.
The Mariners lost to Colony High School 7-5 on Friday, but came back for a decisive 10-0 victory over Houston High School on Saturday at Kevin Bell Arena.
On Friday, Homer’s regular goalkeeper, Keegan Strong, was missing from the game, as was senior Austin Shafford and a number of other players who head coach Steve Nevak said are a big part of some of Homer’s offensive lines.
That meant that junior Rhodes Turner, who had never played the position of goalie in a varsity game before in his life, was left to step up and fill the role on Friday. He ended up saving seven of the 14 shots taken on Homer’s goal by Colony.
At the end of the game, though they had just lost, members of team all took to the ice to swarm Turner in celebration and congratulations. Nevak praised his willingness to step up and fill Strong’s skates.
“It takes a big guy to jump into a varsity game, throw on the pads and say, ‘I’ll do it,’” he said.
Nevak was not otherwise worried by the loss.
“Their coaches, their players, everyone knows who’s the better team,” he said.
Nevak did note that there were some opportunities in the game which Homer didn’t capitalize on as well as they could have.
“Even with the goalie situation, we had our shots to win,” he said. “… We won that game as far as shots — outplaying them.”
Colony head coach Chris Yaskus said his players just stuck to the plan.
“It’s probably one of the better games that we’ve played through the defensive and neutral zone,” he said.
Yaskus did note some breakdowns on the defensive line, referencing a few Homer goals that were made “from just right inside the house.”
“This is probably one of the best teams in the state without a doubt,” he said of Homer. “So to see them go toe to toe with those kids and move the puck like we did through the neutral zone to create opportunities on the drives into the offensive zone was, it was good.”
Colony skater Jacob Ross also said he thought his teammates moved the puck well, as well as getting their heads up to look for each other and communicate.
“It was fun,” he said of the matchup. “I can’t wait to play them again.”
Colony 7, Homer 5
First period — 1. Homer- Ross (Otis, Pitzman) 10:54; 2. Colony- McLaughlin (Yundt) 10:43; 3. Colony- Ketchum (Lando) 58.6.
Second period — 4. Colony- Ross (unassisted) 4:20; 5. Homer- Nevak (Pitzman) 3:18; 6. Colony- Ross (unassisted) 1:30.
Third period — 7. Colony- Ketchum (Ross) 11:33; 8. Colony- Moore (Cappel) 11:13; 9. Colony- McLaughlin (Ross, Jellch) 7:23; 10. Homer- Pitzman (Nevak) 5:25; 11. Homer- Ross (Pitzman, Gilland) 1:59; 12. Homer- Ross (Weston, Nevak) 0:27.
Shots on goal: Homer 6-4-4—14, Colony 10-5-11—26.
Homer 10, Houston 0
First period — 1. Homer- Gilland (Pitzman, Allen) 5:05, 2. Homer- Otis (Gilland, Ross) 3:33.
Second period — 3. Homer- E. Allen (Ross) 6:34; 4. Homer- Ross (Gilland) 2:34; 5. Homer- O. Pitzman (Reutov) 0:19.
Third period — 6. Homer- Gilland (unassisted) 10:06; 7. Homer- Nevak (O. Pitzman) 8:27; 8. Homer- Nevak (unassisted) 3:18; 9. Homer- Wickstrom (Nevak) 2:22; 10. Homer- Gilland (E. Pitzman) 2:04.
Shots on goal: Homer 12-8-19—39, Houston- 3-3-3—9; Saves: Homer- Strong 3-3-3—9, Houston- Smoldon 11-4-14—29.