The bright spot for the Crimson Bears under the glare of the Soldotna Stars on Friday night at the Treadwell Arena was a scoreless third period.
The darkness, however, came with two Soldotna goals in less than 25 seconds at the top of the first period that gave momentum to the visitors and resulted in a 5-0 loss for the Juneau-Douglas hockey team in their home opener.
Soldotna’s Nick Wrobel scored at the 12:09 and 11:51 marks of the first with assists by Toma Johnson and Ty Fenten.
“We had to call a time out,” JDHS coach Luke Adams said. “We settled down and kept it simple. I think we were over thinking it. Those two bad bounces resulted in two goals. That is part of the game. Our kids refocused in the locker room and got ready to go.”
The Crimson Bears were out-shot on the night 22-13, with the majority of their own attempts coming in the second period while Soldotna tallied three goals in that stanza. Jake Olsen found the net at the 10:50 mark (assists Wrobel, Fenten) and Coel Nelson lit the lamp at 9:22 (Bobo Lott, Kenny Griffin) and 1:17 (unassisted).
Both clubs were comfortable delivering hard hits yet the night yielded just four penalties.
The Stars’ Justice Miller was whistled for tripping in the first period and Coel Nelson contributed for an extra player on the ice in the third.
JDHS’ Josh Lahnum was called for hooking in the second and Luke Sewell for slashing in the third.
The Crimson Bears featured multiple players in new positions and sophomore Chase Barnum and junior Shane Moller were effective defensively and senior Kathryn Noreen earned some hard hits on the ice.
“I think our team played well,” Barnum said. “It was my first time playing defense for varsity and I had a pretty good defensive partner in Shane Moller. A lot of us were playing new positions but we figured it out and we will step it up the next game. Soldotna was really quick off the face-offs. Right when they won the faceoff they set up into position and we were a little shocked how efficient they set up.”
Down 5-0 heading into the final period the Crimson Bears played their best shifts.
“We just had to stick to the basics,” Adams said. “Just find the things they can do well and accomplish the little things like keeping our sticks on the ice and going to the net and getting shots. Right now our attitude in the locker room is positive. Basically we just need to have a better start, just have our kids ready to play. This was a change for us but the kids now know what the tempo has to be.”
Soldotna’s Nick Wrobel received the Star Of The Game with two goals and one assist.
“The way we were passing was key,” Wrobel said. “We really manned the puck a lot. We definitely use a lot of smart play and when we get to the red line we dump the puck, we don’t pinch at the blue lines.”
JDHS senior goalie Neal Chapman saved 17 shots and was awarded the third star of the game honor. Soldotna’s Cole Nelson received the second star of the game with two goals. Soldotna goalie Cody Harvey was perfect on the night, stopping all 13 discs slid his way.
The two teams face off again tonight at 7 p.m. on the Treadwell ice.