The Alpena High School hockey team has had a strong year so far, beating each of their four previous opponents by a goal or more entering Saturday.
However, the Wildcats' win streak ended on Saturday with a 4-3 loss against Midland Dow at Northern Lights Arena.
This loss came in spite of a stand-out performance by Jesse Boilore who had 33 saves in the game including some high stakes, near open-net shots.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Alpena’s Jared Kwiatkowski (5) attempts to bring the puck toward the net while teammate Joey Bracken (20) backs him up in a game against Midland Dow on Saturday at Northern Lights Arena. Alpena lost 4-3.
Boilore commented on his team's loss.
"It's never fun losing but I always try as hard as I can to come up with the 'W'. We just didn't get it done today," he said.
The game started out with aggressive play by the Chargers as they had four shots on the goal before Alpena had a chance to make its first. The Wildcats seemed to have a hard time getting an offensive run started as the Chargers continued to push heavily into the Wildcats' territory.
In spite of strong offensive pressure from the Chargers, the Wildcats struck first with an unassisted goal by Sam Rumbles with three minutes left to go in the first period. Neither team was able to mount a successful offense for the rest of the period, which ended with fisticuffs between Cole Cosbitt and David Laursen.
The Chargers struck quickly in the second period with a goal one minute in scored by Zachary Paisley. Alpena mounted a few offensive spurts into the Chargers' territory, but was unable to score until the last eight seconds of the period on a power-play goal by Cosbitt with an assist by Cade MacArthur.
The late goal helped keep the Wildcats in the game as the Chargers scored two goals earlier due to strong offensive pressure. Steven Roberts scored the second goal with an assist from Travis McNally and Paisley while Brett Billhart scored the third with an assist by Paisley. Dow led 3-2 after two periods.
Alpena head coach Pete Doubek commented on the aggressive play of the Chargers.
"They came out more strongly than we did at the beginning, they were quicker than us and a little bit more intense," he said.
The third period saw both teams step up defensively. The number of very close shots on both sides decreased significantly and scoring opportunities became less frequent. Jared Kwiatkowski had several very close shots with eight minutes left as did Rumbles.
The Chargers were able to capitalize on their shots more effectively with a goal a minute and a half into the period, which gave them a 4-2 lead.
In spite of giving up four goals, Boilore still blocked over 90 percent of the shots he faced and was highly praised by Doubek.
"Jesse was great tonight. He's square to the shots about 99 percent of the time, which is a huge part of his success," he said.
Alpena kept up the pressure on Dow and got a last-minute goal with 40 seconds left from Joey Bracken, with an assist going to Kwiatkowski.
Doubek saw this loss as a great way for his team to grow and mature.
"I think they came out feeling a little over confident and they're definitely upset with this loss. However, I think it will give them a good chance to prepare for the next game, try harder and not take games for granted," he said.
Alpena is now 4-1 on the season. The Wildcats play next against Traverse City West on Friday.