Twenty four hours made a world of difference for the Alpena hockey team.
Fresh off a 7-1 loss on Friday, the Wildcats regrouped and came out firing on Saturday, picking up a 6-2 win over Walled Lake Western at Northern Lights Arena in the consolation game of the Blue Line Tournament.
Jared Plume and Jared Kwiatkowski scored two goals each for Alpena (5-3), which snapped a three-game losing streak.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena goaltender Bret LeTourneau, left, tries to stop Walled Lake Western’s Chris Donaldson on a penalty shot during the third period of a hockey game Saturday at Northern Lights Arena. LeTourneau stopped the shot as the Wildcats won 6-2 in the consolation game of the Blue Line Tournament.
"All the kids, all lines played together, they started trusting each other a little more which showed in the passing and then results in goal scoring," Alpena coach Pete Doubek said. "It tells me these kids, we don't set any limits for them and we try to emphasize that it's up to them to how far they want to go this season. We'll support them, but the onus is on them."
Tied 1-1 after the first period, Kwiatkowski put Alpena ahead for good just 1:45 into the second frame with assists going to Zach Nash and Sam Rumbles.
The Wildcats' top line was solid all game and set up a number of quality scoring chances on Western goaltender Joe Cooper. At the 6:42 mark, Nash passed the puck from the left circle to the far end of the net to Kwiatkowski, who knocked it in to put Alpena up 3-1.
"Those three performed really well today," Doubek said of his top line. "I think there's another level there still, so hopefully we see that in Traverse City."
Alpena got three power-play opportunities in the middle frame, but was unable to capitalize on them. The biggest chance game when Ben Krawiec was given a five-minute major penalty and a game disqualification with just over five minutes left in the period.
The Wildcats outshot Western 29-18 for the game, including a 20-8 advantage over the last two periods.
In addition to a rejuvenated offensive effort, Alpena also put the clamp down on the Warriors defensively, particularly in the third period.
Just 2:41 into the frame, Western's Chris Donaldson was awarded a penalty shot and was stopped by Alpena goaltender Bret LeTourneau as he skated up the right side. Donaldson redeemed himself just a short time later on the power-play, working his way between two defenders to put the puck past LeTourneau.
Alpena also found itself shorthanded a few times in the final frame, but did a nice job on the penalty kill, including nearly killing off a 5-on-3 advantage for Western early on. Doubek attributed that to the Wildcats getting back to basics on defense and focusing on clearing the puck out of its zone.
Plume put Alpena back up by two with a power-play tally with 7:53 left, his second goal of the game. Playing in just his second game with the Wildcats since he returned from playing with an Ohio AAA team, Plume turned in a solid all-around effort, scoring twice, dishing out a couple of big hits and contributing well on defense.
"It was nice coming out after that loss and it felt good to win. I couldn't have done it without my linemates. We've been playing together for a long time so it's not a big difference (coming back)," Plume said. "It's nice coming back and being able to play and having a spot on the team."
Nash put Alpena ahead 5-2 with 4:46 left on an assist from Kwiatkowski after a shot trickled past Cooper and Zack Kendziorski lit the lamp with 2:05 remaining for Alpena's final score with an assist from Emily Duncan.
The Warriors took a 1-0 lead in the first period at the 6:19 mark after Justin Michaelian scored on the power-play, but Alpena answered back with a power-play goal of its own at the 7:18 mark when Plume threw a shot from the high slot past Cooper.
Doubek praised Plume's performance, noting that his versatility is a big help to Alpena's lineup.
"He had an all-around good game too, offensive and defensive, a couple really nice back checks," Doubek said. "We know we can put him back on defense, he can play offense, he kept it clean today, had a couple big hits and you can't ask for more than that."
Alpena will take the road next weekend to face Traverse City Central on Friday and Traverse City West on Saturday.
In the championship game, Saginaw Tri-Valley defeated Bay City 3-2. Bay City topped Walled Lake 6-3 in the second game on Friday.