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Saturday March 28, 2020
SPECIAL TEAMS RULE: Eskymos Slip Past Alpena

ALPENA---The Escanaba Eskymos scored on both the power play and while shorthanded on Saturday and squeezed past the Alpena Wildcats, 4-3, at the Northern Lights Arena.

The win gave the Eskymos third place in the Alpena Christmas Showcase, and allowed the team to finish the 2019 portion of the schedule with a 6-3-0 overall record.

The Eskymos sure didn't make it wasy on themselves, however, as turnovers directly led to a pair of Alpena goals. But both times, the Eskymos bounced back with goals shortly after the Wildcats turned on the lamp.

In the second period, Ethan Silverstone scored on a rebound just 43 seconds after Alpena tool a 2-1 lead with a Matt Thompson goal.

And then in the third period, Kyle Krutina's scored a shorthanded goal 1:33 into the final period to give Escanaba the 4-3 lead.

That after Alpena had tied the game late in the second period after the Eskymos lost a defensive zone faceoff.

"That's something that needs to happen,' Escanaba Coach Matt Hughes said. "Especially when you give up shorthanded goals, and give them goals on bad passes, and things like that. It was good to see the boys being willing to fight back and get those goals back."

The Eskymos scored the game's first goal on the 5:35 mark of the first period as Karson Krutina, moved up to the first line with his brother and Silverstone, took advantage of his opportunity. The Wildcats, however, tied the game later in the period with a shorthanded goal that came after the Eskymos turned it over in the offensive zone with a lazy pass, and then, in the defensive zone, turned it over between the circles.

Alpena took a 2-1 lead on Thompson's goal in the second period before Silverstone tied it, and then with 4:56 left in the second period, Sawyer LaMarch scored into a wide open net on the power play to make it 3-2.

It was sweet for LaMarch, who was disappointed the night before when he missed on a penalty shot against Orchard Lake St. Mary's.

"My heart was pumping," LaMarch said about Friday's penalty shot. "It was the most nervous I've ever been, I'll put it that way."


And what about Saturday's go-ahead power play goal?

"It was my second power play out there, and me and Nick (Kolich) were working it down low," LaMarch said. "He gave it to Jayger (LaMarch's brother) in front and he completely fanned on it. It kind of went to Gunner (Bourdeau) and he did a slapshot, and it hit a skate and came to my stick and I had a wide open net."

"He worked hard on that," Hughes said of LaMarch. "He's one of those players who's small, but he makes up for it with his work ethic and his vision on the ice, and his ability to see plays develop. It's good to see him get rewarded and be able to put home that rebound on the power play."

But the Eskymos couldn't hold the lead. The Wildcats dumped one the length of the ice, but instead of icing, it went to Esky goaltender Trevor Denome. He froze the puck, and on the resulting face off, the Wildcats won the draw and Ben Nowack scored.

That tied the game entering the third period, and the Eskymos were in penalty trouble, before Kyle Krutina went in on a breakaway to score the shorthanded goal that eventually stood up as the game-winner. The Wildcats had a parade to the penalty box over the final 15 minutes of the game, and never mounted a serious offensive threat.

The Eskymos carried the play throughout the third period, which is partly responsible for so many Alpena penalties, including a double-minor with four minutes to play.

"That was our plan from the get-go, to get pucks deep on them," Hughes said. "That's where we've been successful, with some unselfish guys who work very well down deep, and make some good passes. That was our plan, and we were able to do that."

Also part of the plan was to go after rebounds left by Alpena goaltender Jimmy Bolanowski. Hughes said he noticed in Friday's Alpena-Howell game that Bolanowski was good at stopping the first shot, but left big rebounds in front of the net.

"We needed to get guys going to the net and go into those areas where you don't like to go," Hughes said. "You can take it to a team if you're in the right spot at the right time and I thought we were able to do that pretty well tonight."

Alpena fell to 1-8-2 on the season.

The Eskymos outshot the Wildcats, 36-21.

Escanaba (6-3-0) returns to action next Friday night with a game at Michigan Tech University against Painesdale-Jeffers.

The Jets lost to Hancock on Saturday, 6-1.

OTHER GAMES SATURDAY: Marquette beat Canton, 4-2, at Lakeview Arena, after Kingsford topped Sault Ste. Marie, 5-1, in the early game. That tournament continues on Sunday. And at Michigan Tech,  Calumet slipped past Houghton, 3-2, to win the MacInnes Holiday Classic. The Jeffers loss to Hancock was in the third place game.

Click the thumbnails in the ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS box above to see photos and videos, and hear post-game comments from Hughes, Sawyer LaMarch and player spotlight interviews with Nick Kolich and Spencer Bourdeau.









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