Not a bad start

VanDusen, Plowman lead Alpena to win in opener

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena's Kyle VanDusen celebrates a second period goal with a teammate. VanDusen scored four times in Alpena's 8-2 win over North.

Kyle VanDusen has been waiting a long time to get back on the ice for the Alpena High hockey team.

He made sure his first game back was a memorable one.

VanDusen tallied four goals and added two assists as the Wildcats topped Grosse Pointe North 8-2 on Friday on the first day of the Huron Shores Showcase at Northern Lights Arena.

Colby Plowman added a hat trick and Keegan Matthews had a single tally for the Wildcats, who will play Riverview Gabriel Richard at 1 p.m. today.

VanDusen tallied 15 points in 16 games last season before being sidelined with a broken collarbone. He played in games this summer, but Friday’s game marked his regular season return.

In just one game, he nearly matched his goal total from last season (5) and displayed good chemistry with his linemates Plowman and Conner Allen.

“It feels great to go out there and give it your all; scoring some goals, I guess that always feels nice,” VanDusen said. “I think we worked really well as a team the first game. We were moving our feet, moving the puck and I think we just really jelled.”

Alpena led 2-0 after one period and broke the game open in the middle frame with strong special teams play. With 12:05 left in the period, Lars MacArthur was called for checking from behind and given a five-minute major penalty.

Alpena went on the offensive with a man down as VanDusen scored his second goal of the game, picking up a loose puck and skating in to beat North goaltender Kyle Losinski with 11:14 left.

Just 29 seconds later, Plowman scored shorthanded to put Alpena up 4-0, intercepting Losinski as he tried to clear the puck.

VanDusen netted his hat trick with 5:40 left in the frame, scoring from the left circle. Plowman connected again before the end of the period, beating North’s goaltender with a shot over the right shoulder from the left circle.

Connor Albrect scored twice for North, connecting late in the second period to make it 6-1 and again in the third period on the power-play with 6:42 left.

Alpena outshot North 32-15 and gave coach Chris Limback a victory to start his second stint leading the Wildcats.

“I was really pleased. I thought we did a lot of nice things out there for the first game,” Limback said. “We have so many young kids, so it was important for them to get those first couple shifts to relax and to grow. We got the early lead and that helped us a lot.”

Matthews scored Alpena’s first goal of the season with 6:58 left in the first period, scoring on a rebound. Less than two minutes later, VanDusen scored on a rebound, giving Alpena a 2-0 lead after 17 minutes.

Cooper Black made 13 saves for Alpena.

VanDusen scored for the fourth time with 14:26 left in the game, taking a pass across the slot from Plowman and burying the shot. Plowman completed his hat trick with 8:46 left, dangling the puck in the slot before steadying himself and firing a shot to the back of the net to give Alpena an 8-1 lead.

All together, Alpena’s first line tallied more than a dozen points.

“I think we just seem to know where each other is going to be on the ice,” VanDusen said. “We moved the puck well and had some good opportunities.”

In the first game of the showcase, Gabriel Richard defeated Freeland 5-0. Freeland will play North at 11 a.m. today.