The Huron Shores Challenge gave the Alpena Wildcats hockey team a chance to show its fans what they were made of this year and left the ice with a 3-1 win over Milford on Friday at Northern Lights Arena.
The first half of the first period saw Milford playing aggressively against an Alpena team that didn't answer back.
Milford scored its only goal of the night at five minutes into the game to take an early 1-0 lead.
Alpena head coach Pete Doubek discussed what he called the "timid" play of his players during this period.
"There were a lot of nerves before the game. Even the veteran players were nervous. They came out a bit timid and unaggressive. However, as soon as they got comfortable with each other, the game turned around," he said.
The second half of the first period saw the Wildcats' defense clamp down on Milford. Milford took one penalty during the period which Alpena was unable to capitalize on.
The Wildcats capitalized on a late period scoring chance with 2:35 left to go. A series of passes from Zach Nash and Jared Kwiatkowski set up a Cole Cosbitt goal to tie the game.
Cosbitt was pleased with scoring the first goal of the season.
"It felt pretty good. I wasn't really expecting it, it was one of those random opportunities that just opened up," he said.
The first period came to a close with no major offensive plays from either team. LeTourneau had two important saves at 10:40 and 3:10 left in the period that helped the Wildcats stay in the game.
Doubek praised goalies LeTourneau and Jesse Boilore, who came in halfway through the game.
"Both of the goalies played really well. We're experimenting to see who the top goalie is and it's really tough. Both did excellent tonight and had some huge saves," he said.
The second period saw the Wildcats continue to push offensively. The Wildcats out shot Milford 10-6 in the second period.
This shot success was unaffected by the Wildcats bad luck with penalties in the second period. The second period saw three Wildcat penalties, none of which were successful power play opportunities for Milford.
Kwiatkowski scored the Wildcats' second goal of the night with 6:31 left in the second frame to put Alpena ahead 2-1.
Milford continued to take shots on the Wildcats' goal and drive into their offensive territory but they were unable to start a successful drive. Milford did have a few scoring chances late in the game with a few breakaway plays from Trevor Tierney. Boilore's stops, especially the first with 8:56 left in the game kept Alpena ahead.
The Wildcats pulled further ahead at 7:32 left in the game when Nash scored Alpena's third goal of the game off of the passes of Karsten Alexander and Kwiatkowski.
Doubek commented on his team's successful play, focusing on what he called "unselfish" play.
"They had some excellent team play tonight. They were very excited and they're in decent shape. Everybody played really unselfishly and played well together as a team," he said.
LeTourneau and Boilore had a combined 19 saves on the night.
Alpena plays its second game of the season today at 2:30 p.m. against the winner of the Berkley and Kenowa Hills game from Friday.