The Division II state hockey tournament got off to a thrilling start Thursday when overtime was needed to decide the first game of the three-day event.
Aidan Burcham of the Soldotna Stars scored 90 seconds into overtime to lift his team to a 6-5 victory over the Monroe Catholic Rams in the morning game at the Menard Memorial Center in Wasilla.
In other games, the defending champion Homer Mariners scored four unanswered goals in the third period to defeat the Houston Hawks 6-3; North Pole stopped Kenai Central 4-2; and Palmer routed Tri-Valley 11-0.
Monroe sent the early game into overtime when Dom Coiley scored with 59 seconds left in regulation, knotting the score 5-5.
Coiley’s goal was the sixth of a wild third period. It was tied 2-2 going into the period, and Monroe’s Chris Hodges scored twice in the opening 3 minutes, 30 seconds to boost his team to a 4-2 lead.
Soldotna made it a one-goal game on Kyler Howell’s goal with a little less than seven minutes left and seized the lead with 2:19 remaining on the second of two goals scored in an 89-second span.
Silas Larsen and Gavin Haakenson each scored two goals and Dylan Walton tallied assists on five of Soldotna’s six goals, including the game-winner. Goaltender Ayden See stopped 22 shots.
Monroe goalie Jimmy Packee made 26 saves and Hodges finished with a hat trick. Miles Fowler scored the Rams’ other goal.
In Homer’s victory over Houston, Hunter Green provided two goals and one assist, Brock Barth had one goal and one assist, Sam Banks dished two assists and Keegan Strong made 26 saves.
Other Mariners goals came from Kazden Stinoff, Dylan Arno and Casey Otis.
Houston broke a 2-2 tie in the third period with a goal from Afanasy Efimov, but the Mariners answered with four straight goals to keep their title-defense hopes alive.
Houston’s other goals came from Eric Proboski and Anfim Konev. Goalie Ari Burnside turned away 24 shots.
In North Pole’s win, Daigen Johnson scored an unassisted shorthanded goal and provided an assist on the power play to lead the Patriots. Kaleb Johnson scored two goals, Austin Mann scored one and Nic Clark made 22 saves.
For the Kardinals, Jacob Begich scored twice and goaltender Thomas Baker helped keep things close by stopping 36 shots.
Action continues Friday with four games. Saturday’s championship game is set for 1 p.m.
ASAA Division II First National Cup
Soldotna 6, Monroe Catholic 5
North Pole 4, Kenai Central 2
Homer 6, Houston 3
Palmer 11, Tri-Valley
10 a.m. — Kenai vs. Houston (consolation)
1 p.m. — Monroe vs. Tri-Valley (consolation)
4 p.m. — Soldotna vs. Palmer (semifinal)
7 p.m. — North Pole vs. Homer (semifinal)
1 p.m. — Championship