• Kiril Sanarov picks up 3 goals in 3 games
By Sean Pearson
Mariner Co-op Hockey coach Buck Laukitis calls his team’s yearly trek north to face Valley opponents the “toughest trip of the year.”
Senior forward Tommy Bowe agrees, but goes one step further with his hockey analogy.
“Back in the ‘80s, when Russia was a hockey powerhouse, their games were almost silent; while over in America, the fans were loud and proud,” he explained. “I see Homer as America, and the Valley’s like Russia. There’s not many fans and it’s real quiet.”
Bowe said playing with no noise can take some getting used to.
It’s doubtful, however, that Laukitis will find that explanation acceptable.
“We thought we could win two out of three up there,” the coach said.
The Moose and the Warriors had other plans.
The Mariners opened their three-game series against Palmer, and fell 2-4.
“We started flat and spotted them two early goals,” Laukitis said. “We really never got out of first gear until halfway through the game.”
Bowe opened Homers’ scoring with a goal on the power-play, closing the Moose lead to one. Bowe got assists from Carson Duggar and Kiril Sanarov.
The early minutes of the third period turned out to be much like those of the first.
“Again, we spotted them two goals in the first few minutes,” Laukitis said.
Then, on the power play, Kiril Sanarov buried the rebound on a shot from Anton Kuzmin. Dennis Sanarov picked up the assist. Markian Polushkin was in goal.
“We played our best with our goalie pulled late in the game,” Laukitis said. “We played with some intensity and urgency.”
Bowe said he felt the team didn’t get off the bus ready to play.
“I think we all underestimated them a little and really didn’t get enough shots on goal,” he said. ”It was pretty ridiculous. I think we only took like three shots in the third period.”
The M’s came out strong against Colony on Friday, edging the Knights 1-0.
“They had just beaten Kenai 11-0 the night before, and we knew we needed to get it going early,” Laukitis said. “We outshot them 15-9 in the first period, but it still ended scoreless.”
In the second period, Kiril Sanarov scored the power-play game-winner on a rebound from Connor McCarron’s shot from the point.
“Kiril was our best offensive player all weekend. He is inspiring to his teammates, and our opponents usually feel it when he is on the ice,” Laukitis said. “He is a small player who plays huge. He is a force in the league.”
The game ended in a tight checking defensive battle and an unyielding Alex Sanarov in goal. Laukitis said he was pleased with the team’s defensive effort, noting that JJ Sonnen, Dennis Sanarov, McCarron, Kiril Reutov, Anton Kuzmin and Dawson Roberts all played well.
“We shut down their top line,” Laukitis said. “And they had just scored nine goals the game before.”
Laukitis said his third line of Clem Tillion, Owen Delehanty and Mavrick Ivanov, played “great” against Colony.
“They were the difference-makers for the team, providing energy and a great forecheck,” he said. “Clem was our shut-down guy. He was our best defensive forward of the weekend.”
In Saturday’s final game of the series, the Wasilla Warriors hit the ice with scoring in mind, and dominated the M’s 6-2. Laukitis said Wasilla is just a better team.
“They are big and strong and we came out tentative,” he explained. “We needed a great game from our goal tender and our defense, as well as a great performance on offense. We didn’t get enough from anyone.”
Laukitis said the team made adjustments during the game and played some decent hockey in the second period.
Ethan Kizzia scored after Bowe drove the net. Duggar got the assist. Kiril Sanarov also picked up a nice goal on a short pass from his brother, Dennis. Dawson Roberts assisted on that goal.
The Homer Co-op team now moves to 9-5 overall, and 2-2 in league play.
The team takes this weekend off after going up against SoHi on Tuesday. Results from the game were not available by press time.
Next up for the squad is a trip to Juneau right before Christmas. Bowe said he would like to see the Mariners improve their team defense and shot disruption against the Crimson Bears, as well as take more shots.
“Juneau is not a bad place to play, because their rink and their style of hockey is a lot like ours,” he said. “And they have really loud fans, too.”
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