The Homer Mariners headed north once again for games Dec. 11-13 in the Big Lake Lions Classic Hockey Tournament. Stepping it up, the Mariners won two out of three games.
“We had a rough start,” said Hunter Tillion. “But we had a strong start in game two and got the fire burning and just destroyed Hutchison (in the third game.)”
In game one, Homer faced a tough Colony team, the same team that walloped Homer 10-0 last weekend. The Mariners lost again, this time 7-0, but were more competitive, keeping the game scoreless through the first period. Riley Swanson handled net duties for the Mariners, and made 24 saves. Clem Tillion played a strong game and was designated the player-of-the-game for Homer.
In game two, the Mariners faced a combination team from Colony, with a JV team bolstered by a number of skaters from their varsity squad. This time, Homer came out on top, winning 3-2. Markian Polushkin was in goal for Homer and earned player-of-the-game honors, stopping 24 of the 26 shots he faced. Colony jumped out in front with a first period goal, but Marley McGuire evened the score for Homer in the second period, off an assist from Garrett Butcher.
“I didn’t have much time because the Colony center was coming at me,” said McGuire.
This was only McGuire’s second game this season, as he had initially decided to not play hockey this year, but “then I went to a home game versus Soldotna and wanted to be back on the rink with my teammates.”
His return was good for the team, too, as the Mariners have struggled recently to put the puck in the net. Just two minutes later, senior Anton Kuzmin gave the Mariners the lead with a goal assisted by Dimitry Kuzmin. Then, early in the third period, the Mariners grabbed a crucial two goal lead. Douglas Dean fed Hunter Tillion.
There was plenty of back-and-forth play in the third period. Homer was able to hold off the Knights and prevail with a victory.
Game three found the Mariners playing Hutchison for the first time this season. Homer prevailed 7-2. Senior Clem Tillion had a four-point night, with a goal and three assists. Riley Swanson earned player-of-the-game honors, with his work at net. Senior JJ Sonnen got the scoring started not once, but twice, as he pounded a puck into the net off a Clem Tillion assist and then quickly followed that with an unassisted goal, putting the Mariners on top, 2-0. Clem Tillion scored a goal with only one second left in the first period, giving Homer a 3-0 edge after one period of hockey.
In the second period, the Mariners scored three times. Dimitry Kuzmin found the back of the net off assists from Robby Larson and Dawson Roberts. Later, Ulian Kuzmin scored off a Clem Tillion assist. Finally, Danny Wiest got into the scoring action, with assists going to Clem Tillion and Jack Heimbold.
The third period saw one more goal by Homer, this time by Dmitry Kuzmin with an assist from Anton Kuzmin and a rare goalie assist to goaltender Riley Swanson, who had started the play back at his own net.
“Road trips are fun,” said Hunter Tillion. “We all hang out at the motel and talk over the games. But two trips to the Valley in two weeks is enough.”
Next up for the Mariners is a conference game at Soldotna on Friday night. On Dec. 27, at 7:30 pm, the Mariners play their annual alumni game at the Kevin Bell Aren