Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 9:01 PM on Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Alex and Dennis Sanarov: gold standard Mariners

By Lindsay Johnson
Staff Writer


Photographer: Lindsay Johnson, Homer News

The Sanarov twins smile before practice at the Kevin Bell Arena Monday. Teammates say the two take hockey very seriously, but are fun to be around and usually smiling.

Identical twins Alex and Dennis Sanarov are making waves in Alaska's hockey arena five years after picking up the sport.

The Voznesenka High School sophomores just completed their first high school hockey season, made possible by a 2010 Alaska School Activities Association decision allowing small schools to form cooperative teams for some sports.

"It really made the team come together and play well, having those players," said Asa Stage, the hockey team captain.

Alex stopped 93 percent of shots on goal this season. North Star Conference coaches chose him as goalie of the 11-member All-Conference Team over a senior with a similar save percentage.

Laukitis said Sanarov was well-deserving of the nomination, given his age, the fact that the Ms played with underclassmen on defense and had a losing record for the season.

Laukitis credits some of Alex's success with the team's defense, of which his brother is a critical component. Dennis earned a spot on the second All-Conference team.

"They had immediate impact in the team. They made us very, very competitive," said Head Hockey Coach Buck Laukitis.

The Sanarovs' older brother Walter is one of the Mariners' assistant coaches. Though Walter was out of high school before the co-op existed, Laukitis said he is a valuable part of the coaching team. Another Sanarov brother, 13-year-old Kiril, plays on the Bantam team and will be a freshman in the fall. Dennis said Kiril also might join the high school team.

Laukitis said the Sanarov brothers are natural athletes and great to coach.

"They're fishing kids. They're tough kids. They have self-discipline," he said.

Stage said Alex and Dennis were always trying to win.

"They took the game more seriously than other people on the team," he said.

Besides fishing with their dad and chopping wood, hockey is the only sport the Sanarovs play.

"We played football, but quit for hockey," Alex said.

They like skating (much more than running) and shooting the puck; they can often be found on the pond by their house in Voznesenka or at McNeil Canyon, playing on the ice with their brothers and friends.

"I like playing with them a lot. They don't talk a whole lot but they just make things happen when they play," Stage said.

Though they're known for their defensive prowess, the boys like playing other positions. Laukitis said they're good all around the ice.

"Usually a goalie's a goalie," Laukitis said.

But he said Alex is a good skater, and knows how to put the puck in the net, too.

"I think he understands what to do. He'd probably be a good forward for us," Laukitis said.

Sometimes Alex and Dennis will switch positions, and Dennis is good enough in the goal that others can't tell who is where.

Laukitis said the two are very perceptive.

"They kind of just learn by watching. They're very, very coachable. They just want to improve all the time," he said.

Erik Rosencrans, a junior on the Mariners hockey team, agrees.

"They try harder than anyone else on the team. You can always tell that they're working really hard. They're just focused and paying attention," he said.

Alex and Dennis like that high school games are more competitive than youth league.

"It's kind of different 'cause every period they zam the ice. So it's like super nice every time," Dennis said.

They also like that high school sports give them a chance to travel to new places. The team's trip to Juneau last December was Dennis' first flight ever, and they're both looking forward to going farther, geographically and in the conference, next year.

"The future is very bright," Laukitis said.

"A lot of people did a lot of things to get that rule changed and they're making the most of it. The whole situation is very special. I'm very, very lucky to have them."

Neither of the boys have much to say about future plans, just that they want to play hockey and go fishing. Alex is looking forward to getting his own boat.

"Soon. Soon. A couple more years," he said.

Whether on the ice or on the water, the Sanarov brothers are ones to watch.