• Mariners open season at home against Kenai, Juneau-Douglas next week
By Sean Pearson
If the early snowfall and freezing temperatures weren’t enough to shock you back into winter mode in Homer, perhaps a quick trip to Kevin Bell Arena will add a little convincing to your otherwise blissful state of denial.
Mariner Hockey Head Coach Buck Laukitis returns for his seventh season, having watched his program develop significantly over the years.
“This year’s team has the most talented group of kids I’ve seen so far,” Laukitis said of his players. “We not only have some very talented seniors, but also some new players as well, both sophomores and freshmen.”
With all that talent, Laukitis said he is able to coach at a higher lever, adding that the positive attitudes and good energy of his players make it exciting for him to coach.
The Homer Co-op hockey team kicked off its 2012-13 season with an opening practice on Oct. 15. The team will get two weeks of practice in before seeing its first action of the season next Tuesday night at Kevin Bell Arena.
Leading the team for the M’s this year is senior defenseman Dennis Sanarov, who earned All-Conference honors last year. Sanarov said he enjoys playing defense and looks for a strong offense to take care of the scoring side of things as the season progresses.
Saranov is joined on the team by brothers Kiril on defense, and Alex in goal. Alex turned away an outrageous amount of shots on goal last year, earning himself All-Tournament Team honors on several occasions.
Other notable returners include seniors Ethan Kizzia and Connor McCarron, and junior football standout Tommy Bowe. Laukitis said he hopes a deep Mariner bench will allow him to keep players fresh without giving up too much experience or talent on the ice at any given time.
The Mariners host their annual End of the Road Shootout on Nov. 8, 9 and 10, with seven teams participating in the three-day event.
For the first time, the school has some equipment to hand out to the players after Homer High Principal Allan Gee received a grant from the district earmarked for the purchase of safety equipment. He was able to secure 15, helmets plus several hockey pants and chest protectors for the team.
The Mariners’ opening games on Tuesday kick off with junior varsity action at 5:30 p.m. and varsity at 7:30 p.m. The Halloween night game is at 6:45 p.m., with a public skate to follow. Skaters in costume get in free.
And whether you come in costume or in street clothes really doesn’t matter to the Mariners, as long as you come out to cheer them on as they kick off the season.
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