Friday's game will go down as a second straight loss for the Alpena hockey team.
But given that the Wildcats were missing five regular contributors and were forced to shuffle their lines, it will also go down as a good learning experience for Alpena, which dropped its second straight game, losing 4-1 to Traverse City West at Northern Lights Arena.
The Titans outshot the Wildcats 39-23 for the game, including 14-3 in the third period. West was effective in not allowing the Wildcats to establish much of an offensive rhythm, even though shots were comparably close through the first two periods.
With a handful of players out of the lineup, Alpena was forced to shuffle its lines, putting offensive mainstays like Sam Rumbles and Jared Kwiatkowski in defensive roles for portions of the game.
"We had five guys and all of them major contributors. You have to mix up the lines like that and it's tough on a team," Alpena coach Pete Doubek said. "Sam played one of his better games today and he had to skate in directions that he's not used to skating in."
West got on the board first with 7:06 left in the first frame after John Linenger scored with an assist from Nick Schultz and Jake Saxton.
The Titans picked up two more tallies in the middle frame. With 9:10 left, Schultz skated up the right side and fired a shot over Alpena goaltender Jesse Boilore's shoulder. Less than two minutes later, Saxton took a pass across the slot and fired it past Boilore to give the Titans a 3-0 lead.
Ryan Basel put West up 4-0 with 13:12 left in the game after the puck trickled past Boilore.
Boilore made 35 stops and West's Carter Edmondson made 22.
Joey Bracken put Alpena on the board with 7:07 left with assists going to Rumbles and Emily Duncan.
Doubek credited his team with playing hard, even as many of them were asked to fill unusual roles.
"I think this is a good learning experience. No one likes to lose, but they lost as a team. Nobody got down on anybody else," Doubek said. "I had to put a lot of kids in positions they're not used to playing and as they went through the game, the kids did it without question. I think they actually grinded and were a little more serious about this game than the last game against Midland."
Alpena will return to the ice next Friday at home against Traverse City Central.