The Homer hockey team once again wiped the rink with the Soldotna High School Stars on Tuesday, defeating them 10-1 at the Kevin Bell Arena.
This is the third time the Mariners have defeated the Stars this season; previously, they won 10-3 and 11-3. Tuesday night’s win moved the team to 7-2 in North Star Conference play and 14-4 overall.
It was a comeback for the Mariners after a rough weekend in the Mat-Su Valley, where they were defeated 1-0 by Wasilla and 5-2 by Colony, though they did come out on top of Palmer 4-0. In a standout season for the Mariners, they had beaten all three of these valley teams previously in a stretch of home games. It was the first time in program history that Homer has defeated Wasilla.
“We wanted to focus on the defensive side of things first today,” said head coach Chance Rockett of the game. “We had a tough trip in the valley and we ended on a high note against Palmer, but we wanted to make sure we came in here and, you know, took care of business. And we did that.”
Rockett said the goal was to shut the Stars down, and credited the overall team play and how the teammates kept Soldotna from gaining much momentum.
“I’d rather take a 10-1 win over a 12-3 win or a 12-5 win any day,” he said. “It was really important to us to keep the goals against (us) down and the shots down.”
Ali McCarron scored her first goal of season on Tuesday, and was awarded the game puck, Rockett said.
Tuesday’s game also saw the debut of a few new players who joined late in the season. Austin Shafford took to the ice, as did Vlase Polushkin in the goal, only a freshman.
“That was his start ever,” Rockett said. “And we out-shot them (SoHi) 40-7, so he didn’t have much action, but he made the saves when he needed to.”
Polushkin also helped in that his playing allowed Hunter Warren to rest up after the intense weekend in the valley.
Tim Blakely came through with a hat trick for the team, and Phin Weston had two of the 10 goals, along with several assists. Tyler Gilliland, too, had a large hand in assisting and getting goals.
Soldotna’s Braxton Urban nabbed the team’s only goal against Homer.
The team now settles into a four-day stretch of at-home games, starting today against Dimond. They’ll continue at 7 p.m. Friday against West Anchorage and at noon on Saturday against East Anchorage. The Mariners have already lost to both East and West Anchorage this season, Rockett said, but not by much.
“We’re ready for some revenge,” he said.
The game against Dimond could also have important implications further on in the season, depending on how Wasilla ultimately does against Colony, Rockett said.
“That’s the game, right there,” he said. “You know, are we ready to run with the big dogs? Is this a fluke or is this who we’re going to be every game in and out?”