Thunder Bay Wrecks

After winning the NIHL league title, the Thunder Bay Wrecks Bantam AA hockey team traveled to Sault Ste. Marie in hopes of collecting their second banner in league play and achieve their 40th win of the season in the process.

The Wrecks advanced to the finals against the Calumet Kings after winning their first three games in pool play and earned the number one overall seed.

The Kings capitalized five minutes into the first period while being short handed, as a Kings forward picked off an errant pass and skated in on a break away and was able to slide one just under the pads of Wrecks goaltender Cooper Black for the first goal of the game.

The Kings led by one until midway through the second period when Kyle Hebner came out of the corner and fired a quick wrist shot through the five-hole of the calumet goalie on the powerplay to knot things up at one goal apiece. Brett Nelson and Owen Limback each picked up assists on the goal.

Each team had numerous opportunities until five minutes left in the game when the game got real interesting. Calumet found the back of the net again with just under five minutes to play on a nice two on one play for the 2-1 lead.

Moments later, Kyle VanDusen received a pass from Gabe Kleinsorge just inside the blue line and fired a shot just under the crossbar for the equalizer. Neither team was able to score at the end of regulation and the first overtime playing 4 on 4.

On the opening faceoff of 3 on 3 play, VanDusen won the draw back to Limback who hesitated and bounced a pass off the boards back to VanDusen sending him in one on one against the Calumet defenseman. VanDusen used their defenseman as a screen at the top of the circle and took a shot that went past the Kings netminder and helped the Wrecks to a thrilling 3-2 win in double overtime.

Black made 22 saves in the victory while the Kings goalie stopped 24 shots in the loss.

“It was Just a great win for the team in overtime fashion, our kids never gave up and to win in overtime just made the Championship even more special.” Wrecks coach Chris Limback said.

In the opening game, the Wrecks beat Marquette by a score of 3-0. Scoring for the Wrecks were Keegan Mathews, VanDusen and Nelson. Anthony Berg, VanDusen, Limback, and Mathews all collected helpers in the first game.

Black stopped all 11 shots he faced in the victory and collected his 16th shut out of the year.

The Kings were up next and the Wrecks picked up a key 2-1 win in a game that the Kings fired a total of 28 shots against Black. Black made several point blank shots that left the Kings players shaking their heads after not being able to score late in the game. The Wrecks scored two goals in the first five minutes and were able to hang on for the win. Limback scored off of a point shot on the power play and VanDusen in tight for the quick 2-0 lead. The Kings scored their lone goal in the second.

In the final game of pool play, the Wrecks faced off against Sault. Each team traded multiple goals through the first two periods until Limback blasted a point shot on the power play for the 3-2 win early in the final period. Mathews and Hebner scored the first two goals with VanDusen and Mathews getting the assists for the game. Black made 17 saves in the win.

“I’m so proud of this special team to win another championship and collect our 40th win of the season which is incredible. We are making great memories that will last forever,” Limback said.

The Wrecks are 40-5-7 on the season and will head to the Final 8 in Little Caesars Playoff action this weekend where they will play the Novi Wildcats in the single elimination tournament.

Thunder Bay Wrecks

After picking up its first win in Little Caesars pool play against Toledo Cherokee, the Thunder Bay Wrecks Bantam AA team wrapped up division games against Wyandotte Warriors and Michigan Ice Hawks last weekend.

Kyle VanDusen led the way offensively with a hat trick to pace the Wrecks to a 3-1 victory. On the second goal, Gabe Kleinsorge made a great pass to VanDusen on a 2-on-1 to set up a wide open net to put the Wrecks up 2-0 after two teams. Both teams traded goals in the third period.

Cooper Black made 20 saves in the victory while the Warriors goalie made 22 saves in the loss.

“VanDusen is an incredible goal scorer and was dynamic throughout the entire game. Players like this make a coach look very good,” Wrecks coach Chris Limback said.

The following day the Wrecks faced off against the Michigan Ice Hawks for the No.1 seed in the division.

The Ice Hawks controlled the play throughout the first period, scoring twice and had numerous other opportunities to widen the lead. The Wrecks used the break to settle down and start to win more shifts and create some offense of their own. Kyle Hebner picked up his 36th of the year off of a backhand shot that slipped under the glove of the Ice Hawks netminder. The rest of the second period saw each team have chances but neither team scored.

A key power play early in the third period saw Keegan Mathews (9th) tip a point shot from Owen Limback to tie things up 2-2. Minutes later Gabe Kleinsorge battled an Ice Hawks defenseman to collect his own rebound and flip it just over the sprawled out goalie for the 3-2 lead. The Wrecks held on to the lead and VanDusen add his 36th goal on an open net with 37 seconds left in a 4-2 win.

Cooper Black made 23 saves in the victory while his opponent made 30 in the loss.

“We started out very slow and were lucky to be only behind by 2 after one. Scoring early in the second settled us down and we were able to get a great come from behind victory. Good teams are always in games and that is the way we are playing right now,” Limback said.

The Wrecks are now 36-5-7 on the season and played in Sault Ste. Marie this past weekend for NIHL league playoffs against the Calumet Kings.

Details from this weekend will be available in a future edition of The Alpena News.

Thunder Bay Wrecks

After collecting three consecutive shutouts in district play, Cooper Black and the Wrecks Bantam AA hockey team were hoping for the same stellar play in the opening round of the Little Caesars playoffs against the Toledo Cherokee in Bay City.

Neither team could generate much offense in the first five minutes of the game until Kyle VanDusen was able to strip the puck away from a Cherokee forward just outside their blue line and skated in all alone against the Toledo goaltender and VanDusen was able to fake a shot and go to his backhand to flip the puck just under the crossbar for a crucial 1-0 lead and his 32nd goal of the year.

This turned out to be the only scoring in the game as Black continued his solid play, making some incredible saves in the final two periods to seal the victory and collect his fourth shutout in a row and his 15th of the year.

“It was a huge two points for us to collect in pool play if we want to advance to the Caesars playoffs finals, Black was the best player on the ice today and he is really in the zone as a goalie right now,” Wrecks assistant coach Tate Precord said.

The Wrecks will wrap up pool play this weekend against the Wyandotte Warriors and Michigan Ice Hawks to see which two teams will advance to the finals at the end of February. The Wrecks are now 34-5-7 on the season.

Thunder Bay Wrecks

The Thunder Bay Wrecks Bantam AA Hockey team traveled to Sault Ste. Marie to defend their District 7 Championship from a year ago against Traverse City and the host team last weekend.

In the opening game against Traverse City, the Wrecks jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one period when Kyle VanDusen and Brett Nelson scored goal each in the second half of the period with Keegan Mathews getting the lone assist. Moments into the second period, Alex Cosbitt lit the lamp on a great wrist shot that snuck just inside the post. Kyle Hebner added another goal late in the period to give the Wrecks a comfortable 4-0 lead. VanDusen scored his second goal of the game to help the Wrecks earn a big 5-0 win in the opening game.

Cooper Black stopped all 20 shots he faced in the game while the Traverse City goaltender made 34 saves in the losing effort.

Later on in the afternoon, the Wrecks faced off against Sault to see who would advance to the Championship.

VanDusen scored a crucial first goal of the game on a power play with Gabe Kleinsorge dishing out the assist. Moments later, Cosbitt slammed home a rebound off of a Sam Gorno shot from the point to give the Wrecks a 2-0- lead. The Wrecks suffered a major blow, losing Colby Plowman to a shoulder injury and Sault gained some momentum until the closing moments of the second period when Hebner scored to put the Wrecks up 3-0 off of a great individual effort to give Alpena some breathing room with Gorno getting the lone assist. Owen Limback scored an empty net goal to close the game and send the Wrecks to the finals to face off against Traverse City in a rematch of the opening game.

Black made 17 saves, earning his second shutout of the day and Patteson stopped 36 saves in the loss.

The Championship Game featured Traverse City coming out strong and putting pressure on the wrecks, forcing Black to make some quality saves in the opening minutes of the game. A key 5 on 3 power play helped the Wrecks get on the board off of some slick stick handling from VanDusen with Hebner and Nelson collecting assists on the first goal. The game remained tied until halfway through the second period when Limback picked up a loose puck and was able to elude the Traverse City defenders to go in all alone against the goalie and fire a shot just under the cross bar for a high light reel goal to double the lead at 2-0. Limback’s goal seemed to have changed the momentum and the Wrecks went on to play steady defense in the final period and advanced to the State Finals in March with a 2-0 victory.

Black made 15 saves and his recorded his third shutout of the weekend, while the Traverse City goaltender stopped 26 shots in the loss.

“I was very nervous heading into this weekend because we were the best team on paper, but anything can happen once you step on the ice and to beat a team six times in a season is not easy to do. Losing Plowman really hurts our team, but we still have more in us if we are willing to push ourselves and not be complacent about where we are record wise.” Wrecks coach Chris Limback said.