In 10 days of nearly non-stop hockey, on Tuesday the Homer Mariner hockey team faced SoHi for the second time this season, this time at the Kevin Bell Arena. And this time scoring a win.
The first game, played in November at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, ended in a 2-1 win for the Stars. Tuesday the Mariners turned it around.
Before a crowd of cheering home fans, Homer led in the first period, 2-1. Soldotna gained a point in the second period, but that’s all the Mariners would allow, keeping the score at 2-1 through the remainder of the game.
The Mariners and Stars meet again Jan. 25, playing in the central peninsula.
After taking a time-out over the holidays, the Homer hockey team dusted itself off last week with three back-to-back non-conference games played Jan. 9, 10 and 11.
“These were scheduled as tune-ups,” said Mariner Head Coach John Carlin. “We needed to blow the stuffing out of the team a little bit after the holidays and get their legs back under them.”
Combined with Tuesday’s at-home rematch against SoHi and other games in the near future, the Mariners are in the midst of a “big bubble for us, seven games in 10 days and two practices,” said Carlin.
It’s a demanding schedule for the Mariners, with the team plagued by injuries and illness. Daniel Wiest, defense, is on the ice for the first time this season after breaking his wrist earlier this year.
“Rest up, stay hydrated, sleep and eat good food” is Wiest’s prescription for staying healthy from here on out.
“You have to really love hockey, be dedicated to it and make some of your own energy,” said forward center Tommy Bowe, sporting a scar on his forehead from a recent injury.
The Jan. 9 game was against the West Anchorage Eagles, who were coming off a 14-1 trouncing of Bartlett the previous night. The Eagles also scored a win against
the Mariners, but with only a one-point margin and a
final 4-3 score.
The game got television coverage and highlights can be seen at youralaskalink.com/local-programs/aksn/Dimond-Prep-Shootout-Day-1-UAA-Ladies-Win-239548651.html.
Konstatin Reutov scored for the Mariners in the first period of the game, putting the Homer team in front. The Eagles came back with three pucks in the second, with Reutov and Bowe picking up two more for Homer in the final period. Mariner goaltender Markian Polushkin stopped 36 shots.
“West won, but we had them against the ropes at the end. It was a good game. (The Mariners) played really well. … We almost got them,” said Carlin.
Back on the Ben Boeke ice on Jan. 10, the Mariners picked up steam with a 5-1 victory over the East High School Thunderbirds.
“Anton Kuzmin scored two goals from defense, Kiril Sanarov one goal and Konstantin Reutov for two,” said Carlin. “It was a big win … (the) first time we have beat East in a long while, if ever, in the history of this program.”
Saturday, Polushkin stopped 23 goal attempts by the Eagle River Wolves, but the Wolves still came out on top with a final score of 6-0.
Tuesday’s game was the last at-home game for awhile:
• Today: At Wasilla;
• Jan. 17: At Palmer;
• Jan. 18: At Colony;
• Jan. 25: At SoHi;
• Jan. 28: Kenai Central at Homer;
• Feb. 6-7: Regions tournament at Homer.
“Scheduling has been a challenge for us,” said Carlin. “Moving forward in the future, we want to make sure our home games aren’t so spread out and we don’t have these giant bubbles of a ton of hockey all at once.”
The support of fans at the at-home games is a big plus. For those new to the sport, Bowe had some tips.
“Follow the puck and follow the plays,” said Bowe. With the action sometimes moving quickly from one end of the rink to the other, he added, “It helps if you sit toward the middle.”
This is the first time Homer has been the site of regions tournament action, which happens this year the same weekend as Homer Winter Carnival.
“We would love to see some people come out and support us,” said Carlin.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.