The Alpena hockey team got a monkey off its back on Saturday.
After going 2-5 in Saturday games last year, the Wildcats won their first weekend game of the 2012-13 season on Saturday, beating Kenowa Hills 7-3 to win the Lake Huron Division in the Huron Shores Challenge at Northern Lights Arena.
Sam Rumbles scored twice and six different players lit the lamp for Alpena (2-0), which scored three goals in each of the final two periods.
Despite being outshot in the first period, the Wildcats played a strong game and kept the puck in the Knights' zone, creating numerous scoring chances.
"It feels good to win again," Rumbles said. "The whole game it seemed like we were playing on their end, getting chance after chance and we got it going after so many chances."
Brad Lorenz gave Alpena a 1-0 lead just 1:19 into the game, firing a shot from the left circle past Kenowa goalie Matt Lang. Rumbles and Zach Nash picked up assists.
The Wildcats kept their lead for most of the period, but got a lot of experience on the penalty kill after taking a series of penalties. Twice the Knights gained a 5-on-3 advantage and converted the second time when Jackson Jennette banged in a rebound late in the frame.
Jared Kwiatkowski put Alpena back out front for good early in the second period, tipping in a shot from Evan Hamp.
Before the end of the frame, Nash lit the lamp on a power-play goal with assists from Rumbles and Hein and after getting a handful of chances, Rumbles finally found the back of the net with 2:45 remaining in the frame.
Alpena coach Pete Doubek praised Rumbles' play after the game.
"He had a phenomenal game. Probably one of the strongest games I've ever seen all-around. Forecheck, backcheck, hitting, some hard solid clean hits," Doubek said.
Riley Marsh scored for the Knights in between Nash and Rumbles, leaving Alpena with a 4-2 lead after two periods.
Alpena got its offense rolling again in the third period after Kam Russell beat Lang top shelf on a breakaway midway through the frame. Cole Cosbitt and Karsten Alexander earned assists.
The Wildcats weren't done scoring, even as the clock wound down to final few minutes. Rumbles scored again with 1:20 left, getting assists from Kwiatkowski and Jensen Saddler.
Cade MacArthur closed out the scoring with 50 seconds left on assists from Alexander and Lorenz. Alexander skated up the right side and threw a pass across to MacArthur, who scored.
The Knights scored shorthanded with about six minutes remaining when Ian Thompson beat Alpena goalie Bret LeTourneau up close on the glove side.
LeTourneau finished with 22 saves and came up with some big stops on the penalty kill early in the game to keep Alpena ahead.
"Bret stepped in there and looked solid. He was very aggressive and you like to see him stepping out of the net and taking the angles," Doubek said. "He made some incredible saves at crucial moments in the game."
Alpena outshot Kenowa Hills 30-26 for the game and will take the ice again at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at home against Cheboygan. Doubek is hopeful the Wildcats can continue to play well after opening the year with two wins.
"We talked about getting the monkey off our back from last year, all the Saturday losses and so we're happy to wave goodbye to that monkey," Doubek said. "Hopefully it stays that way."