Ryan Morse was a thorn in the side of the Alpena High School hockey team too many times on Monday.
Morse scored four goals, including the game-winner at the 6:27 mark of overtime to help Cadillac top the Wildcats 5-4 at Northern Lights Arena in a Big North Conference game.
The goal capped a wild, penalty-filled contest that saw more than 50 minutes in penalties given out and completed a comeback by the Vikings after they scored the game's final two goals.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Ryan Spencer fires a shot at the net during the second period of a hockey game on Monday at Northern Lights Arena.
Alpena (12-9-1) led 4-3 early in the final frame, but Levi Rowan netted the equalizer with seven minutes left. After Alpena took a penalty for head contact midway through the overtime period, Morse sent a shot past Alpena goaltender Jesse Boilore for the win.
"The kids, I don't think they let down at the end, it was just a tough play. In an intense game like this every shot on net is a possible goal," Alpena coach Pete Doubek said.
It was a disappointing and perhaps frustrating ending for the Wildcats, who had a three-game winning streak snapped and rallied from a two-goal deficit in the second period with three unanswered goals to take the lead in the third period.
Cadillac outshot the Wildcats 46-17.
Morse scored twice in the first period and completed his hat trick with 11 minutes left in the second period to give Cadillac a 3-1 lead.
"It was confusing, if you want my honest opinion. We came out really flat-footed and we ended up in the penalty box. We got a lot of energy back, but a lot of the weird calls sucked the life out of us," Doubek said. "The kids kept battling through the penalties."
In addition to battling penalties, Alpena was dealt a further blow when senior forward Shane Dawson went down after a cross-check and was taken off on a stretcher.
Alpena rallied from that and Cole Cosbitt cut Cadillac's lead to one with 3:14 left in the frame.
Nick Baranyai knotted the game 3-3 just 2:09 into the third period, blasting a shot from just inside the blue line past Cadillac netminder Connor Kasuba.
Jared Plume gave Alpena the lead just 1:07 later with a shorthanded goal. Plume picked up the puck at center ice, wrestled it away from a Cadillac defender and skated in alone on Kasuba before top shelving the puck for the goal. He nearly scored again about 20 seconds later with Alpena still on the penalty kill.
The Wildcats ran into penalty trouble early on, but took a 1-0 lead with 6:53 left in the first period after a goal from Brody Nowak. Kasuba went to clear the puck and Nowak stepped in front of his attempted pass and slid the puck past him.
The lead was shortlived though as Morse scored 24 seconds later. He lifted a shot past a sprawled out Boilore with 3:43 left to give Cadillac a 2-1 lead.
Alpena hosts Sault Ste. Marie on Friday.
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.