Mariners confident going into North Star tournament
Homer High School head coach Chance Rockett believes his team is capable of beating everyone they might face at the North Star Conference Tournament this weekend in Soldotna. With that being said, he wants his to team to play like they have everything to lose.
Because, despite posting the second-best win-loss record in the state this season and securing the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament behind Colony, they do.
"We are very confident going into the tournament, but we are also aware of the challenges," said Rockett, whose team will face either Wasilla or Soldotna on Friday night, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Soldotna Sports Center. "If we make it past the second round it will be the first time in school history, which would be great. At the end of the day though, we want a showdown with Colony in the championship game to see who the best team in the North Star is."
Rockett said the Mariners match up well with Wasilla, which is favored to upend Soldotna in their first-round showdown on Thursday. Both teams are loaded with stars, but Homer could have an advantage with the game on a larger ice surface at the SSC — which should maximize the team's speed.
"We owe them a better effort than our 1-0 loss at the Brett in early January," Rockett said. "Wasilla is a very deep team that is coached well, but I believe we match up against them better with our speed versus their physicality, specially on the big ice. We should be able to use our speed to our advantage."
Homer also has the knowledge it can beat Wasilla. The Mariners defeated Wasilla earlier this season for the first time in school history. Should Soldotna upset Wasilla, Homer will face a team it has manhandled this season. The Mariners swept their three games against Soldotna this season and outscored the Stars by a 32-6 margin.
"We have played exceptionally well against SoHi through the year," he said, noting he expected the Stars to make several changes to their lineup should they get past Wasilla in their first-round matchup.
Regardless of who the Mariners play in the second round, Rockett said the players have already proven themselves winners, on and off the ice.
"Every single kid committed themselves in the classroom, community and on the ice," he said. "At the beginning of the year, it was explained to these boys and girls that it would take every single person to buy into a team concept, and slowly we have molded into a true team that works for each other."