SAULT STE. MARIE- The Thunder Bay Wrecks Pee Wee team captured the NIHL major league division championship over the weekend in Sault Ste. Marie.
The Wrecks started out Friday with a 8-1 loss to the heavily favored Marquette Sentinels, who were 19-1 in league play. The Wrecks were never in the game, falling behind 5-0 in the first period. Marquette outshot the Wrecks 42-19. Scoring the lone goal for the Wrecks was Owen Limback with assists from Cody Sumerix and Colby Plowman.
The Wrecks still had a chance to make the finals with two wins on Saturday and punched their ticket with two victories.
The Thunder Bay Wrecks Pee Wee team won the NIHL major league division title last weekend. Pictured left to right are: back row: assistant coach Mike Berg, Rayce Jacobs, Nate Cosbitt, Dean Schmanski, assistant coach Chris Cosbitt and assistant coach Dale Adrian; second row: assistant coach Tim VanDusen, Cody Sumerix, Owen Limback, Alex Cosbitt, Colby Plowman and head coach Dave Matash; kneeling: Austin Ritter, Nick Adrian, Sam Lechel and Kyle VanDusen; front row kneeling: Matt Spencer, Anthony Berg and Cooper Black.
Thunder Bay came out of the gate strong against the Calumet Kings, scoring two first period goals. Nate Cosbitt scored the first goal on a feed from Dean Schmanski, and Rayce Jacobs made it 2-0 with an unassisted goal. After a scoreless second period, Jacobs gave the Wrecks a 3-0 lead just 20 seconds into the third period.Jacobs was assisted by Schmanski and Cosbitt to make it 3-0.
The Kings fought back with a goal at the 12-minute mark and another with less than a minute to go in the game to make it 3-2. Despite a last-minute penalty and a 6-on-4 advantage for the Kings, Sam Lechel iced the game for the Wrecks with an empty-net goal for a 4-2 win.
Cooper Black stopped 21 shots in the win.
Thunder Bay saw another tight defensive game Saturday afternoon against the Northern Avalanche. With the Avalanche leading 1-0 at the start of the third period, the Wrecks staged a comeback.
With just over five minutes to go in the game Jacobs collected his own rebound to tie the score at one goal apiece. With momentum now on the Wrecks' side, Schmanski netted the game-winner on a great individual effort with less than three minutes to go. Black earned the win, making 18 saves, to set up a rematch with Marquette for the championship on Sunday.
Alpena again struck first Sunday morning when Cosbitt fooled the Marquette goaltender with a long shot from the blue line. Lechel assisted the goal. Schmanski would add a pair of unassisted goals in the second and third periods to extend the Wrecks lead to 3-0. The Sentinels would get one goal back at the 9:28 mark of the final period, but would fall short of the weekend sweep. Cosbitt added an unassisted, empty-net goal to seal the deal for the Wrecks. Black was outstanding in the net as was the Thunder Bay defense in blocking numerous shots.
"The kids played as a team, with a lot of heart and determination", Wrecks coach Dave Matash said. "They beat the odds by playing with a lot of confidence in themselves."
The weekend improves the Wrecks' record to 33-15-6 and they will travel back to the Soo for the NIHL minor league playoffs this weekend.