• Tommy Bowe turns hat trick in final regular-season game
By Sean Pearson
Homer Mariner Co-op Hockey finished up its final regular season play on Saturday with a 6-2 win over the Kenai Kardinals at the Soldotna Sports Center. The conference win came on the tail of a 0-0 showdown against the Soldotna Stars at the Mariners senior night last Tuesday.
Owen Delehanty drew first blood against the Kards, scoring on a backhand shot off a feed from Clem Tillion. Minutes later, precise passing by the M’s led to a power-play goal by Kiril Sanarov to go up 2-0. Konstantin Reutov and Nikit Matveev picked up assists on the goal.
Kenai responded with a goal late in the first period to pull within one by the break.
Some relatively physical play in the second period led to several penalties by both teams. However, the M’s were able to regroup, thanks to continued effort by Tommy Bowe, Ethan Kizzia and Carson Duggar, and score two more goals to give them a 4-1 lead going into the final period.
Another Kenai penalty put Homer in the power play once again, and allowed another Sanarov goal. Reutov and Matveev picked up the assists. Kenai managed to poke in another goal before Bowe completed his hat trick with an impressive shot in the third quarter.
Skating around the back of the Kardinal net, Bowe ripped a hard shot into the upper corner of the net, above the goalie’s shoulder. The game ended with Homer picking up the 6-2 win.
The Mariners outshot Kenai 35 to 21, as consistently solid work by the defense limited the Kards’ scoring chances. Goalie standout Alex Sanarov also helped his cause by stuffing 19 Kenai shots on goal.
Homer Coach Buck Laukitis credited his special teams with making the difference.
“I thought our penalty kill was really good,” he said of his team’s defense on Kenai power plays. “We fought through some adversity and stayed focused and poised under pressure in the second period.”
The M’s scored four of their six goals on the power play.
“That is exceptional,” Laukitis said. “All three lines scored, and we had outstanding individual performances from Tommy Bowe and Kiril Sanarov. Everyone is playing with confidence.”
The Mariners finish regular-season play tied for third in the conference with Colony. They face off against the Kardinals again in the opening round of Regions on Thursday evening at Menard Sports Complex in Wasilla.
“Heading into the regional tournament, there is no pressure on us,” Laukitis said. “We just want to go and see how good we can get.”
Last Tuesday, Homer’s varsity battled to a 0-0 tie against the Soldotna Stars for Senior Night at Kevin Bell Arena.
The Mariners outshot the Stars 26-17 for the game, and each team had several opportunities to score in regulation play — as well as the eight-minute overtime. Strong play in the net by both goalies denied the puck each time.
“We are playing good team defense,” Laukitis said. “We’ve come a long way this season, and everyone is feeling confident defensively.”
Laukitis referred to seniors Dennis Sanarov, Connor McCarron and Kiril Reutov as defensive leaders.
“We limited SoHi to 17 shots on goal with an overtime period,” Laukitis said. “The first time we played (them), we gave up that many in one period.”
Laukitis said he thought the Kizzia-Bowe-Duggar line played great, rolling off checks and driving the net.
“All three lines helped the team and everyone is accountable,” Laukitis said. “What more can a coach ask? We are playing our best hockey of the year heading down the stretch.”
Seniors honored included: Alex Sanarov, Dennis Sanarov, Ethan Kizzia, Kiril Reutov, Connor McCarron, Nikit Matveev, Carson Duggar, Ivy Bloom, Hanna Mikols, Caroline Creeft, Hanna LaRue, managers Katie Pitzman and Sierra Roberts and exchange student Manuel Spigno.
Homer JV beats SoHi JV 2-1
Following the varsity game, the junior varsity edged SoHi’s JV 2-1. Exchange student Manuel Spigno scored first for the Mariners, redirecting a shot from Dawson Roberts. JJ Sonnen also picked up an assist. Later in the third period, Clem Tillion scored off a Roberts’ assist, putting the Mariners up 2-0.
Goalie Markian Polushkin was solid in the net, but the Stars finally slipped one past him late in the game when Soldotna pulled their goalie for an extra attacker.
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