The Palmer Moose capped their regular season with a 3-1 win over the Houston Hawks Friday at the Big Lake Recreational Center.
Gavin Kineen and Nathan Wheeler scored in the second period for the Moose. Owen Hayes added a goal in the third. Andrey Reutov scored Houston’s lone goal.
Houston outshot Palmer 40-33 in the game. Palmer’s Jackson Heard made 39 saves in the win. Houston’s Kevin Lewis stopped 30 shots.
Both teams have clinched spots in the ASAA/First National Bank Division II State Hockey Championships, which start Thursday at the Menard Arena in Wasilla. Houston was scheduled to face Homer in a play-in game on Wednesday, with the winner of that match scoring the eighth spot on the bracket. But on Monday, tournament organizers announced that Juneau, which had an automatic bid, withdrew from the tourney. That means both Houston and Homer have secured spots in the three-day tournament.
The tourney now includes three Interior area teams from the Aurora Conference (Monroe, North Pole and Tri Valley), three Kenai Peninsula squads (Kenai, Soldotna and Homer), and the two Valley programs (Pamer and Houston).
Palmer and Houston are on opposite sides of the bracket. The Hawks open against Homer Thursday at 4 p.m., and are on the bottom side of the bracket. Palmer, on the top side, faces Tri Valley Thursday at 7 p.m. Soldotna and Monroe are also on the top side, and open the tourney Thursday at 10 a.m. Kenai and North Pole, on the bottom side, play at 1 p.m. Thursday.
The Palmer/Tri Valley winner will play the Soldotna/Monroe winner Friday at 4 p.m. in the semifinals. The other semi will feature the Kenai/North Pole winner against the Houston/Homer winner at 7 p.m.
The Division II state championship game is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. Homer is the defending state champion. The Mariners beat Soldotna 4-1 in the 2020 title game. Palmer placed third with a 4-3 victory over North Pole.
Palmer beat Homer in the 2019 state championship game.
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