It was a charged, volatile match up between the Alpena Street Cats and the Traverse City Hounds on Saturday, in a 4-1 Alpena loss that saw a lot of penalty minutes on both sides.
Alpena had just earned a 2-1 win over the Hounds on Friday, a win that no doubt added fuel to a growing rivalry between the two teams.
"There's a big rivalry between both of us, no doubt it. I think that's going to continue all season," Alpena assistant coach Lori Seguin said.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Alpena’s Vladislav Khasanov tries to move with the puck during a game against the Traverse City Hounds on Saturday at Northern Lights Arena. Khasanov had an assist in a 4-1 loss.
Traverse City (12-2-0-2) leads the Midwest Junior Hockey League with 26 points while Alpena (9-5) is second with 18 points.
The first period was primarily a defensive battle, as both teams clamped down on their opponent's offensive chances. The Hounds were whistled for eight minutes in penalties to Alpena's four.
Alpena goalie Vladislav Graevski stopped 14 shots in the first period and 29 total shots for the game while Traverse City goalie David Krejcik stopped 24.
Penalty time increased in the second period, when tempers began to flare. The Hounds were called for 31 minutes in penalties, including two 10-minute major penalties and one five-minute major, including a game misconduct and abuse of officials.
The Street Cats had eight minutes of penalty time in the second period.
Alpena wasn't able to take advantage on the power play in the second period and Cam Fisher scored shorthanded at 12:45 in the second period to give the Hounds a 1-0 lead. He was assisted by Zach Early and Tyler Thirlby.
The Street Cats upped the pressure on the Hounds, but couldn't stop Patrick Rogowski for knocking in a goal with 1:21 left in the frame with an assist from Fisher.
Konstantin Khramov finally put Alpena on the board in the third period just 3:10 into the final frame with Sergey Merzlov and Vladislav Khasanov earning assists.
Traverse City continued to run into penalty problems in the third, picking up 10 minutes of penalty time. In all, the Hounds earned 49 penalty minutes in the game to Alpena's 35.
Despite the penalties, the Hounds added to their lead in the third period as Jacob Gills and Matthew Passino (power-play) scored at 7:21 and 13:58 respectively.
Alex Devries and Jordan Ruterbusch earned assists.
The Street Cats had several scoring chances throughout the game, but couldn't convert. Late in the third period, Alpena held a 6-on-3 advantage with an extra attacker, but couldn't connect on any shots.
"That was probably one of our worst games of the season," Alpena assistant coach Eric Peterson said. "We weren't focused and didn't capitalize on the power play. But, we split with the number one team in the league this weekend. When we're focused, like we were (on Friday), we can beat anybody."
Eric Benac can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.