The defending champion Palmer Moose bounced back from a first-period scare to grab a first-round victory Thursday at the Division II state high school hockey tournament at the Patty Center in Fairbanks.
The Moose beat the Alaska Heat 5-3 to advance to a Friday semifinal game against Soldotna, a 6-1 winner over Houston. The other semifinal will pit Homer, which routed Tri-Valley 13-0, against North Pole, which beat Kenai Central 8-3.
The Heat, a mixture of players from high schools in Glennallen, Tok and Utqiagvik, led 2-0 after the first period on goals by Richard Charlie and William Matthews.
Palmer stormed back with four goals in the second period, with Nathan Hooks scoring twice and Easton Armstrong and Jeremy Horacek each scoring once.
Both teams scored once in the third period, with Palmer getting a goal from Payton Weaver and the Heat getting one from Micah Serino. Palmer goaltender Tiernan O’Rourke had 17 saves and the Heat’s Charlie Taui had 29.
Six player scored goals in Soldotna’s win over Houston — Brier Books, Aiden Burcham, Trent Powell, David Aley, Journey Miller and Galen Brantley.
Houston avoided the shutout in the final minute of the game with a from Anfim Konev. Houston goalie Josh Smolden stopped 27 shots and Soldotna’s Josh Tree stopped 11.
In Homer’s victory, Isaiah Nevak scored a hat trick, Ethan Pitzman and Austin Shafford each scored two goals, and six others had one goal apiece. Tri-Valley got a huge effort from goaltender Danny Renshaw, who stopped 43 shots.
In the late game, Nic Clark racked up 46 saves Daniel Crutcher scored four straight goals to carry North Pole past Kenai Central.
Clark got 23 of his saves in the second period. Crutcher scored twice in the second period and twice in the third period
ASAA/First National Cup Division II state hockey
Palmer 5, Alaska Heat 3
Soldotna 6, Houston 1
Homer 13, Tri-Valley 0
North Pole 8, Kenai Central 3
Noon — Tri-Valley vs. Kenai Central
2:30 p.m. — Houston vs. Alaska Heat
5 p.m. — Homer vs. North Pole, semifinal
7:30 p.m. — Soldotna vs. Palmer, semifinal