The Alpena Street Cats wanted to put on a good show for their fans in their debut.
It's safe to say they did just that.
Pavel Bocharov scored a hat trick and seven Alpena players lit the lamp as the Street Cats opened the 2013-14 season with a 12-2 win over the Bloomington Blaze on Friday at Northern Lights Arena.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Sergey Deev prepares to take shot on Bloomington’s Cam Lerner during the first period of a junior hockey game on Friday at Northern Lights Arena. Deev scored twice as Alpena won its season opener 12-2.
The two teams were tied 1-1 after the first period, but Alpena (1-0) scored early in the second period and never looked back.
"Honestly yes, because I know the quality of our coaches, I know the quality of our players and we had great support from our fans," Alpena coach Igor Myaskovskiy said when asked if he expected his team to win. "Before the second period, I told the guys, 'Look at your fans. They're here to support you.'"
Sergey Deev, Andrei Kiselev, Vladislav Khasanov scored two goals each.
Bocharov scored all three of his goals in the third period. Just nine seconds into the frame, Kiselev slid a pass to Bocharov in the left circle and he fired a slapshot past Bloomington goalie Cam Lerner.
Bocharov scored his second goal with 6:06 left in the game. Vladimir Mokrousov send a long pass up the ice to Bocharov, who skated in on a breakaway, stopped long enough to freeze Lerner and easily lifted a top-shelf shot past him.
Bocharov was pleased with his individual game, but also gave credit to his teammates for putting him in good position to score.
"The first period was terrible, but then we changed our game," Bocharov said. "In Russia, we have a good proverb, one soldier does not decide the battle, so team chemistry helped a lot."
Deev started things off for Alpena, lighting the lamp midway through the first period. Tanner Vallon answered back for the Blaze less than two minutes later, but it was as close as Bloomington would get to the Street Cats.
Alpena goaltender Vladislav Grayevski made 31 saves in the win.
Alpena started the second period on the power-play and Kiselev put them ahead 2-1 just 2:02 in, after he redirected a shot from Bocharov.
Bloomington was hampered by penalties in the final two periods and the Street Cats were able to take advantage. With 13:48 left in the middle frame, Alpena got a two-man advantage for 1:49. Five seconds later Konstantin Khramov banged in a rebound off a shot from Bocharov.
With 4:15 left in the frame, Deev scored a shorthanded tally to send Alpena into the second intermission ahead 4-1. The goal came less than 30 seconds after Deev had finished serving a penalty.
"It's very important for everyone on our team and for me too," Deev said. "I'm happy to win this game because it's a good start to the season."
The scoring was just getting started with one period left to play as Alpena erupted for eight goals in the final 20 minutes.
Nine seconds in, Andrei Yanovich scored on a backhand and less than two minutes later, Bocharov scored on a slapshot.
Savelii Skurikhin put Alpena ahead 8-1 with 13:32 left in the game when he fired a slapshot at Lerner that trickled past him.
The Blaze caught a break midway through the period when Alpena took concurrent penalties for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct. Bloomington converted one of those opportunities when Steven Smoltz scored with 9:20 left.
Alpena wasn't done scoring yet and added four more goals, including three in a 49-second span. Bocharov completed his hat trick and Khasanov scored the first of his two goals 30 seconds later to put Alpena head 10-2. Nineteen seconds later, Bocharov scored to compete his hat trick and Khasanov scored again with 1:24 left.
Myaskovskiy said Bocharov's goals helped push the Street Cats to victory, but he was also pleased with the collective effort of his players and their discipline on the ice to stay out of the penalty box when they were provoked.
"We tried to play smart hockey. When you do something smart you have good results," he said.
Alpena hosts Bloomington tonight at 7 p.m.