Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 5:22 PM on Wednesday, February 2, 2011

High school hockey moves on

By Lindsay Johnson
Staff Writer

The Mariner hockey team ended the regular season with a goal for the home crowd last Saturday, which was senior night at the Kevin Bell Arena. Seniors Asa Stage and Russ Merritt celebrated by scoring the Mariners' first goal in five games.

The Soldotna Stars were lucky, though. A shot by Jarrett Urban early in the first period put the Stars ahead for what would be a 3-1 win against the best last-place team in the state.


Five Foot Fotos

Asa Stage skates past Soldotna's defense during the Mariners' last home game of the season last Saturday at the Kevin Bell Arena. The teams meet again today in Palmer.

The Mariners' long-anticipated goal came with 2:57 remaining in the second period. Merritt sent it in, assisted by Stage and Mark Reutov.

"I was coming out of the zone," Stage said, "Russ passed it to me, got it on the red line, skated in, behind the net, Mark Reutov got it, passed to Russ and Russ was right in the middle of the slot."

The puck sailed into the top right corner of the net, and the Mariners raised their sticks, like they'd done in practice earlier in the week.

The game stayed tied until the ninth minute of the third period, when a shot by Matt Silver tumbled into the net over Homer goalie Alex Sanarov's shoulder after he had stopped it.

With 30 shots on goal, Homer kept pace with Soldotna's 31 shots.

"They just can find the back of the net," Stage said.

With a minute remaining and the puck circling Soldotna's goalie, Homer Head Coach Buck Laukitis pulled Sanarov to give a full offensive press.

With 20 seconds on the clock, the Stars netted a long shot into the empty goal.

"It went pretty good, we could have done better. We'll get our revenge," Stage said.

Laukitis said every team in the league is competitive, and that the Mariners have the potential to do well.

"We're losing games but I don't think anybody should discount how we play," said Laukitis.

The North Star Conference tournament begins today in Palmer, where the Mariners will face the Stars again.

If they win, they'll play Palmer on Friday, a team they've had two very close games with this season.

Friday's winners qualify for the state tournament next weekend.