Coming home and playing in front of an energetic crowd was just what the Alpena High School hockey team needed.
Reed Hamp scored twice and the Wildcats defeated Traverse City West 4-1 on Friday at Northern Lights Arena in their first home game since Jan. 8.
The win is only the second Big North Conference victory of the season for the Wildcats (10-8-1), but it's a much needed boost after a forgettable loss to Traverse City Central last weekend.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Jared Plume, left, attempts to corral the puck while Traverse City West’s Nick Schultz skates in to defend during the third period of a hockey game on Friday at Northern Lights Arena.
"One hundred percent better. The kids came out flying, lots of energy from the the time of our team meal after school," Alpena coach Pete Doubek said. "They took it to the locker room and brought it on the ice. It was great to see."
Friday night's game was a Purple Game, held to raise awareness of cancers of all kinds and several events took place throughout the night. Prior to the national anthem, a moment of silence was held with candles and the Wildcats wore purple jerseys with "Wildcat Hockey Fights Cancer" emblazoned on the front.
Members of the Alpena High band played in the upper part of the stands and several fundraisers were held during intermissions including a car raffle and a raffle for a cart full of groceries.
It's an event the team is hoping to hold on an annual basis and the Wildcats will participate in a second Purple Game this afternoon in Petoskey.
"The drums and the whole environment was exciting. The energy around the school was exciting. The whole student body was amped up all day," Doubek said. "It's a good event and it's a good way to give back to the community."
Despite being outshot 33-18, the Wildcats made their shots count during a game that saw a great deal of physical play. Zach Kendziorski missed on a breakaway chance in the opening minute of the game and Hamp put Alpena up 1-0 with 10:59 left in the opening frame on a redirection.
West netted the equalizer with 2:38 left in the first period with Jacob Benker beating Alpena goaltender Jesse Boilore on the glove side, but Alpena took the game over from there.
The Wildcats overcame some early penalty troubles and took the lead for good with 8:07 left in the second period. Alpena caught West goaltender Tyler Buchanan out of position and Kendziorski shot the puck into an empty net.
Though they came up short on a 5-on-3 advantage a short time later, the Wildcats added an insurance goal with 6:51 left when Hamp slipped a shot past Buchanan for his second goal of the night.
Jared Plume had two assists for Alpena and Kendziorski, Chris Modrzynski, Shane Dawson, Tait Froggett and Ryan Spencer each had an assist.
Cole Cosbitt scored Alpena's final goal of the night with 11 minutes left in the game.
All the festivities gave the Wildcats plenty of motivation to win, but Doubek was pleased to see his team raise its collective level of play and come together.
"We skated pretty hard this week in practice and the expectations (rose); not just my expectations, but their own self expectations to play to the best of their ability," Doubek said.
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.