Alpena hockey coach Pete Doubek was pretty happy with what he saw from his team on Friday.
Even with the Wildcats split into two squads, Doubek saw plenty to be excited about as Alpena's returning varsity players got to play with some younger players from the JV team and other players hoping to make this year's varsity squad.
The Alpena 1 team opened the Memorial Tournament at Northern Lights Arena with a 3-3 tie against Pinckney and then played L'Anse Creuse North in the night's final game. Alpena's second team played Birmingham United.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Alex Andrzejewski, left, battles a Pinckey player for the puck during the opening game of the Memorial Tournament Friday at Northern Lights Arena. Alpena tied the Pirates 3-3.
"A number of the young kids really stepped up. I was impressed with their ability to adapt and adjust to a little bit higher level of play," Doubek said.
Alpena 1 controlled the play early against Pinckey and took the lead with less than a minute left in the first period when Jared Kwiatkowski scored on an assist from Zach Nash.
The Pirates outshot Alpena 26-19 for the game and took the lead two different times in the contest. After Trevor McConnell took over in net for Alpena starter Jesse Boilore midway through the second period, Pinckey struck twice.
Pat Rogowski tied the game at one with six minutes left in the second frame and less than two minutes later, Kyle Stahlbaum beat McConnell through the five hole to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead headed into the third period.
Doubek was pleased with what he saw from McConnell, who was tested almost immediately after coming in and came up with several impressive saves for the last period and a half.
"(He was) excellent. Those first couple saves were clutch," Doubek said. "To sit for half the game, come in and take a couple really tough shots like that I would think it's really hard. I was impressed."
After missing on its first three power-play chances, Alpena finally banged in a goal with the man advantage early in the third period after Sawyer Hein ripped a shot from the blue line past Pinckney's goaltender.
The Pirates took the lead again with six minutes left when a shot from Sean O'Rouke found the back of the net. The lead was short-lived however when Nash tallied an unassisted goal from the right circle with 2:40 left.
Doubek was impressed with the way Alpena 1 seemed to gel more as the game went on.
"It's summer hockey. The first period, the kids they don't know each other and they started to figure it out as the game went along a little bit. It's kind of a get-to-know each other session, this summer thing. A lot of the younger kids don't know how I coach or how the other players play.
In other results Friday,
Alpena 1 will play Eisenhower today at 1:15 p.m. and Birmingham United at 6:30 p.m. Alpena 2 will play Walled Lake North at 9:45 a.m. and L'Anse Creuse North at 4:45 p.m.