The Homer Mariner co-op hockey team was in Wasilla last weekend for the Region 3 hockey tournament held at the Menard Sports Center.
The Mariners knocked off the Kenai Kardinals in a 5-0 shutout on Thursday evening, setting them up for a 5 p.m. game on Friday against the Soldotna Stars, who had just defeated the Palmer Moose. Tommy Bowe scored three goals in the win, giving him a hat trick off of one of the nicest assists of the night by Caroline DeCreft. Goalie Alex Sanarov got his last shutout of the season in what was a solid outing from the Mariners.
The Mariners then squared up against Wasilla, who made it to the finals by blanking Homer 3-0.
"We had a good first period, but we never got any reward," said Mariner Head Coach Buck Laukitis. "Our power play had been really good, but we didn't convert. Our goal scorers didn't put the puck in the back of the net. We out shot Wasilla 22-11 the first two periods and were down 2-0."
Wasilla pushed two goals past Sanarov on their 11 attempts entering the final period of play where they were able to find the goal one more time, while shutting out the Mariners 0-3 and ending the season.
Still, Laukitis was positive about the Mariners' first winning season: "We had a good weekend and a good year. I know the kids had fun and we had a cohesive team. Every player on the team stayed academically eligible all year, there was no big drama, and everyone stayed focused.
"We had good leadership from our captains Carson Duggar, Tommy Bowe and Dennis Sanarov. Our goal as coaches is to help motivate players to be their best, and to help the team be its best. We had a good hockey team and I think we came close to being as good as we could be. And that is success."
The Mariners also came home with an unprecedented number of awards from Regions.
First Team All Conference: Goalie Alex Sanarov, Defenseman Dennis Sanarov, and Forward Tommy Bowe.
Second Team All Conference: Forwards Carson Duggar and Kiril Sanarov.
Honorable mention All Conference: Forwards Nikit Matveev and Ethan Kizzia.
Good Sport Award: Defenseman Connor McCarron.
Region 3 Coach of the Year: Buck Laukitis.
Markion Polushkin also won the goalie shootout skills competition and Tommy Bowe won the shootout skills competition with a new move he calls the "Homer Move." Nikit Matveev recieved second place in the shooting accuracy skills competition.
Homer 5, Kenai 0
NSC Championships Jan. 31, Menard Arena
First period -- no scoring.
Second period -- 1. Homer, Bowe (K. Reutov, Roberts) pp 12:59; 2. Homer, K. Sanarov (K. Reutov) 11:00.
Third period -- 3. Homer, A. Kuzmin (K. Reutov, N. Matveev) 8:20; 4. Homer, Bowe (de Creeft) 5:31; 5. Homer, Bowe (unassisted) :06.9.
Shots on goal: Homer 15-9-15--39, Kenai 9-8-9--26; Saves: Homer, A. Saranov 9-8-9--26; Kenai, Alvey 15-7-12--34.
Wasilla 3, Homer 0
NSC semifinals, Friday, Menard Arena
First period -- no scoring.
Second period -- 1. Wasilla- Verplancke (Harrington) 9:15; 2. Wasilla- Fletcher (Hanson) 6:54.
Third period -- 3. Wasilla- Reeves (Hanson) 1:09.
Shots on goal: Homer 6-5-6--17, Wasilla 9-11-11--31; Saves: Homer- A. Sanarov 9-9-10--28, Wasilla- Massie 6-5-6--17.