Saturday's game will go into the books as a loss for the Alpena Street Cats.
But given some recent struggles with injuries and contributions from nearly everyone on the bench, there were still a lot of positives to take away from Saturday's 7-5 loss to the Soo Firehawks at Northern Lights Area.
"It's ok because sometimes losses give more than victory," Alpena head coach Igor Myaskovskiy said. "My expectation is that our team grows after this. It's not easy, but games like that build character."
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Andrei Yanovich (9) tries to poke the puck past Soo goaltender Nick Berlingieri during the second period of a junior hockey game on Saturday at Northern Lights Arena.
Playing without several key playmakers including Sergey Deev and Savelii Skurikhin, Alpena (5-4) rebounded from a two-goal deficit in the second period to take a 4-3 lead going into the final frame.
Three quick goals by the Firehawks (6-4) tipped the frame in their favor however and two late penalties hurt the Street Cats' chances to net the equalizer.
"Our guys can score three or four goals in two minutes if they have to sometimes," Alpena assistant coach Erik Peterson said. "We were still in it and the end and I thought we were going to come back and we just fell a little short."
Vladislav Khasanov had two goals and two assists for the Street Cats and Kevin Killups led Soo with two goals and two assists.
The Firehawks tied the game at four just 51 seconds into the third period on a goal from Ryan Marshall. James Goudreau added a goal with 11:47 left and Killups lit the lamp a few minutes later, beating Alpena goalie Vlad Graevski on a shot from the slot.
Graevski finished with 51 saves on 57 shots.
Pavel Bacharov cut Soo's lead in half with 13:20 to play, lifting a shot past Nicholas Berlingieri in the top right corner. Alpena's chances to tie the game were hindered when it took two penalties in the last 5:24.
Any chance of a comeback ended with an empty net goal from Taylor McRorie with 10 seconds left.
Killups gave the Firehawks a 2-1 lead on the power-play early in the second period and Nicholas Murphy added a goal a minute and a half later, but from there the period belonged to Alpena.
Andrei Yanovich cut the lead to one with a power-play goal with 12:17 left in the frame.
Khasanov tied the game nearly four minutes later with an assist from Bailey Rietman. Rietman skated around the back of the net and fed a pass to Khasanov in front. Khasanov was blocked on his first shot, but grabbed the rebound and buried it past Berlingieri.
Andrei Kiselev gave Alpena the lead with 5:27 left when he skated in from the right and put a shot past Berlingieri from the right circle.
"With the injuries I think it was important that other guys on our team stepped up and made a difference tonight. That was huge for a team," Alpena assistant coach Lori Seguin said. "We told them going into the game tonight that someone's going to have to step up and they did. We got contributions from just about everybody so that was a plus for us."
Ashton Calder gave Soo a 1-0 lead early in the first period, beating Graevski on a backhand, but Alpena answered back midway through the frame when Khasanov banged in a rebound.
Vladimir Mokosov added two assists for Alpena, Murphy had two assists and Cody Anderson had three assists for the Firehawks.
Alpena returns to the ice on the road against the Detroit Fighting Irish for a three-game series.
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.