FAIRBANKS—The Lathrop Malemutes and North Pole Patriots opened the high school hockey season on a winning note Thursday.
The Malemutes of the Class 4A Railbelt Conference downed the defending small schools state champion Hutchison Hawks, 5-1, while the Patriots posted a 3-2 win against the Kenai Kardinals in Soldotna.
The Malemutes got off to a fast start Thursday afternoon at the Big Dipper Ice Arena, scoring goals on their first two shifts en route to a win in first-year coach Curt Franklin’s first game.
Max Blankenship opened the scoring for the Malemutes off assists from Tristan Ramaker and Logan Parsley. Cole Stephens unassisted goal made it 2-0.
Freshman Rodahn Evans scored the third goal of the opening period for the Malemutes off assists from Chad Horn and Colton Meier.
Hutchison’s Brandon Rustad scored his team’s only goal late in the first period off assists from Elijah Berrios and Thomas Lees.
After a scoreless second period, the Malemutes tacked on two goals in the third.
Parsley scored a power-play goal off assists f from Ramaker and Blankenship and Josh Clifton capped the scoring with an assist from Conner Nilson.
“We came out and skated well in the first period,” Franklin said. “Hutchison picked it up after the first five minutes and it was pretty even after that.”
Lathrop goalie Ian Morey made 16 saves, while Hutchison goaltenders Patrick Hirt and Daniel Slane combined to make 30 saves.
Hutchison is back in action Saturday when the Hawks play the West Valley Wolfpack at 3:45 p.m. at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
Lathrop returns to action next Thursday, hosting the Dimond Lynx.
Sophomore center Jason Donald accounted for all of North Pole’s scoring, including the game-winning shorthand goal in the second period of a 3-2 victory over the Kenai Kardinals in the regular season-opening Peninsula Challenge in Soldotna.
Donald provided the game-winner at about 9 minutes into the second period.
“He finished last season with four goals and he came in this season playing as the top line center,’’ North Pole coach Stuart Zimmerman said from Soldotna. “He’s has two good linemates, senior Blake Wade and freshman AJ Hebert, and he’s playing with confidence.”
Donald scored even strength at 25 seconds into the game, assisted by Carson Linnell, and he had another shorthanded goal at 3:31 of the second.
Both shorthanded goals were unassisted.
Junior goaltender Alan Heineken registered 27 saves for the Patriots, who play the Soldotna Stars at 2 p.m. today and the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears at the same time Saturday.
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.