The Mariners played host to Palmer, Colony and Wasilla in an action-packed weekend at Homer’s Kevin Bell Arena.
Homer lost two of the three games, but picked up a victory against the Palmer Moose on Thursday night. The Moose came out with force as Darren Fish scored the game’s first goal at the seven-minute mark of the first period. Five minutes later, Homer’s Maverick Ivanov tied the game by tipping in a missed shot from the point. Assists were credited to Connor McCarron and Dawson Roberts. Homer scored twice more in the second period as co-captain Tommy Bowe gave the Mariners the lead on an unassisted goal. With less than two minutes left in the period, Carson Duggar netted a goal off an assist from Ethan Kizzia which had the Mariners up by two going into the last period.
“It’s a good time to be a Mariner,” Coach Buck Laukitis told his team. “You are 12-7-1. You go into every game with self-confidence and know you can win.”
The Mariners closed out the game with their defense not allowing another goal. Goalie Alex Sanarov saved 12 of 13 shots on goal for the night as the Mariners began their weekend with a 3-1 win.
Friday night showed a matchup against the Colony Knights. The Mariners looked ready as they came out of the gates hot. Dennis Sanorov assisted Duggar for the games first power-play goal midway through the first period, but little did the Mariners know this was all of the offense that the Knights would allow on the night. Goalie Colton Beebe went on to stop 21 consecutive shots for Colony to allow the comeback. The second period was all green and black as the Knights scored three goals in seven minutes coming off power-plays and fast breaks. Homer’s Bowe was disqualified in the third period after checking a player from behind which led to another Colony goal and a 4-1 loss for the home team. Sanarov made 12 saves on 16 shots for the night for Homer.
“This is the first team I’ve coached that was willing to set goals for themselves as defined by wins and losses,” said Coach Laukitis of his team’s hard work. “The scary thing is it introduces the threat of failure. Being willing to fail even though you try your hardest shows confidence and strength of character.”
Saturday’s game against the Wasilla Warriors was a battle. The Mariners tallied eight penalties for 16 minutes while the Warriors racked up a total of 14 penalties for 28 minutes. Wasilla drew first blood in the final seconds of the opening period, coming off Andrew Cooley’s assist to Colten Fletcher. Two more Wasilla goals in the early stages of the second period found Homer down 3-0 as they entered the last period with less than 10 shots on goal.
With less than two minutes remaining, Ethan Kizzia scored off an assist from Kiril Sanarov to cut the lead to two. Just 67 seconds later, Nikit Matveev scored from a Clem Tillion pass to make it a one-goal game. The Mariners couldn’t string together the game tying goal, but it was made possible by the defensive pressure that the Mariners turned up. Sanarov faced 26 shots, saving all but three in the most physical game of the weekend.
“I told the team after the Wasilla game that the way they played honors the game of hockey. This team shows respect for the game and the way it is supposed to be played. That makes them better as young adults. It makes them better community members. They are writing their team’s chapter in the book of good hockey and ultimately a good life. They shouldn’t hang their heads because they didn’t get the win that they worked hard for,” said Coach Laukitis
The Mariners play their final home game Tuesday against the Soldotna Stars. This senior night game begins at 5 p.m. at the Kevin Bell Arena.
Norm Anderson is a freelance writer who lives in Homer.