Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 1:46 PM on Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mariners play some great hockey, fall short of going to state playoffs

By Angelina Skowronski
For the Homer News

In a bittersweet ending to the hockey season, the Mariners went into the North Star Conference Region Tournament seeded sixth and came out a goal away from going to state.

It was a long bus ride in blizzard conditions to get to Soldotna, but the bus-lag did not phase the Mariners and Homer was able to shut out third-seeded Colony 3-0 in the team's first game of the tournament.

"Colony is the top team in the conference and we liked the fact that we were matched up against them," said Homer's Head Hockey Coach Buck Laukitis. "Our win wasn't a fluke, they knew we were there to play."

Homer scored early as freshman Kiril Sanarov shot with an assist from senior Kai Simmons just over six minutes into the game.

Senior Erik Rosencrans had a score and an assist to help his team advance in the tournament, and freshman Clem Tillion sealed the win with the assist from Rosencrans.

Colony's Head Coach Jamie Smith credited Homer with outstanding play.

"They played unbelievable, their goalie came up with save after save. It's like the perfect storm," Smith said. "Our third line played extremely well tonight, and our goaltender has played extremely well all year, but gave up some soft goals."

The win against Colony put the Mariners against No. 2 seeded Palmer on Saturday for the semi-finals. Homer lost 1-0 in a tough game.

"Palmer dominated, but we were out there playing hard," said Laukitis.

In the first two periods, Homer struggled to make plays. Laukitis attributed that to the size and speed of Palmer's players.

Third period's play was more fluid. Laukitis described it as, "the best game of hockey" he had seen this season.

The Mariners were able to make a break away in the last two minutes of the game, but were unable to convert for a tie.

Much of Homer's success can be attributed to goalkeeper Alex Sanarov's performance.

"Sanarov was phenomenal in the goal, he kept us in the game," said Laukitis. "He made saves I have never seen. He single-handedly stomped Palmer."

"They were challenging games against Colony and Palmer. All I could do was try my best to save the shots," said Sanarov.

Sanarov is the second-ranked goalkeeper in the North Star Conference, in first is Colony's Forest Savel.

"It feels great to be number two, but what I really want is to be number one," said Sanarov.

Only a junior, Sanarov plans on returning to the Homer ice rink next season to claim his first ranked position.

Palmer went on to win the Regions Tournament 5-2 against Wasilla on Saturday. Both teams advance to the State Tournament next weekend.

The win against Colony was Homer's first NSC Tournament win since 2007. Five years ago, the Mariners' season ended in a similar fashion with a solid win early on in the weekend, followed by a loss to the tournament winners.

Laukitis said, "It was a good way to end the season. I am proud of the team."

Joey Klecka of the Peninsula Clarion contributed to this story.

Mariners 3, Knights 0

Homer 1 0 2 —3 Colony 0 0 0 —0

First period — 1. Homer, Sanarov (Simmons) 6:18.

Penalties — Colony 4 for 8:00.

Second period — none.

Penalties — none.

Third period — 2. Homer, Rosencrans 4:00. 3. Homer, Tillion (Rosencrans) 10:40.

Penalties — Homer 3 for 6:00, Colony 1 for 2:00.

Shots on goal — Homer 11-11-10—32; Colony 11-5-8—24.

Goalies — Homer, Sanarov (32 shots-32 saves); Colony, Savel (24 shots-21 saves).