By Norm Anderson
For the Homer News
The Homer Mariners hosted their final home game of the hockey season against the Soldotna Stars Tuesday night in what was a defensive-minded showdown from both squads.
Although the Mariners looked to push the puck offensively in the first period, all seven shots on goal were saved by Soldotna goalie Cody Harvey. Homer’s Alex Sanarov also sent back six shots on Homer’s goal in the first period.
The second period showed a change of pace as the high offensive tempo duo of Tommy Bowe and Carson Duggar continuously kept the puck at the Mariners scoring end for minutes at a time with no avail. After both teams sent a player to the penalty box for roughing, Homer still had the upper hand on both puck control and shots on goal. The Mariners still couldn’t slide the puck past Harvey, who racked up another five saves before the end of the period. The Stars got all three of their shot attempts stuffed in the final seconds by Sanarov, who finished with 17 for the night.
The third period showed an even hungrier Homer lineup, knowing that just one goal could seal the game. Just minutes into the period Duggar made a swift move past two Soldotna defenders and took a point-blank shot at the goal. Another impressive save by Harvey fired up both teams, resulting in a frustration scuffle between Bowe and many Soldotna defenders. Although no players were called for penalties, Duggar picked up a slashing penalty a few possesions later that sent him to the box with just minutes to go in the closely matched contest.
The Stars came out of their timeout with a power play scoring opportunity due to the penalty, but the surge toward Homer’s goal was turned around by the Mariners and quickly passed to Ethan Kizzia, who put a move on but missed the one-on-one potential game-winning goal.
Neither team could break each other’s defensive presence and at the end of regulation the score was still knotted up at 0. The overtime clock was set for eight minutes and neither team went to the locker room as they had to prepare for the extra period on the fly.
Just a minute into OT action, Star’s Center Nick Wrobel barely missed a slap shot and then fell into the net, briefly stopping play in what looked to some like the game winning goal. Mariner fans held their breath while Soldotna fans began to cheer before realizing the game wasn’t over after the referee’s faceoff call.
This was one of Sanarov’s three overtime saves while Soldotna’s Harvey stopped all four of Bowes exciting game winning shot attempts.
The final buzzer sounded signaling that the Mariners’ senior night ended in a scoreless tie despite putting up 26 shots on Soldotna’s goal.
Homer Hockey Coach Buck Laukitis had this to say after the game: “The Mariners are playing good team defense. We’ve come a long way this season, and everyone is feeling confident defensively. Seniors Dennis Sanarov, Connor McCarron and Keril Reutov are the leaders.
“We limited Sohi to 17 shots on goal with an overtime period. The first time we played we gave up that many in one period. The goal tending was sensational. Alex is getting into playoff form. I’ve never been involved with a 0-0 overtime game, but SoHi has had three in a row.
“I thought the Kizzia, Bowe, Duggar line played great — rolling off checks and driving the net. They created their own chances with hard work and a strong forecheck. Senior Nikit Matveev made good plays to set up his line mates Keril Sanarov and Konstantin Reutov. All three lines helped their team. Everyone is accountable. What more can a coach ask?
“We are playing our best hockey of the year heading down the stretch.”
The Mariners look to keep up their brick wall defense but will have to do it away from the Kevin Bell Arena, taking to the road for their remaining games of the season. The Mariners head off to the regional tournament in the Valley on Jan. 31.
Seniors honored on Tuesday were Ivy Bloom, Carson Duggar, Ethan Kizzia, Hannah Larue, Nikit Mateev, Connor McCarron, Hannah Mikols, Kiril Reutov, Alex Sanarov and Dennis Sanarov.