Keep on fighting

Third-period scores lift Wildcats past East Kentwood

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena's Lars MacArthur, center, fights for control of the puck with East Kentwood players Miles Barnes (25) and Ethan Fritts during the first period of a hockey game on Friday at Northern Lights Arena.

The Alpena High hockey team never stopped playing on Friday and the Wildcats were rewarded for their efforts.

Owen Limback and Alex Cosbitt scored in the third period and the Wildcats held off a rally to defeat East Kentwood 3-2 on the first night of the Blue Line Tournament at Northern Lights Arena.

East Kentwood scored with 7:57 to play and pulled its goalie late for an extra attacker, but the Wildcats held on for the win.

Lars MacArthur added a goal for Alpena and Jimmy Bolanowski made 13 saves for the Wildcats (3-3-2), who will play Macomb Dakota at 12:30 p.m. today.

“A win’s a win. We have some things to work on, but we came back and got the W which is the important thing,” Alpena assistant coach Caleb Montroy said. “The kids never gave up.”

A goal from East Kentwood’s Bennett Gray with 18.7 seconds left in the second period tied the game after two frames. But the Wildcats, who were aggressive offensively all night, took the fight to the Falcons early in the third period.

They were rewarded with 13:07 left when Owen Limback poked the puck past East Kentwood goalie Trevor Stephenson. With Alpena attacking at the net, Limback found a way to poke the puck past Stephenson on the shortside, giving Alpena the lead.

“I have no idea how it went in, but we always tell the boys to play to the whistle and Owen said he just kept poking and eventually went in,” Montroy said. “I’m not sure how he managed to get one in there from behind the net, but we’re obviously happy he did.”

Cosbitt gave Alpena a two-goal cushion with 9:33 left, scoring on the power-play after the Falcons had trouble clearing a rebound.

Alpena outshot East Kentwood 32-15 and Cody Sumerix was named Alpena’s MVP for the game.

MacArthur shorthanded breakaway goal with 56.9 seconds left in the first period gave the Wildcats an early lead. With Alpena shorthanded on a 5-on-3, MacArthur picked up a loose puck, skated in and scored on Stephenson.

MacArthur’s tally came after a period of near misses by Alpena. Within the first two minutes, Colby Plowman missed a chance, trying to beat Stephenson with a backhand on a breakaway attempt.

With nine minutes left, Charlie Halleck shot at the net and Keegan Matthews couldn’t bury the rebound. Then with 7:24 left, Cosbitt missed a chance on the stick side.

“We came out pretty good, we just couldn’t bury one,” Montroy said. “Then we finally got the lead there and let them back into it; just a couple of bad plays, bad penalties.”

Those penalties included a five-minute major with about six minutes left in the opening frame and another penalty a few minutes later which set the stage for MacArthur’s goal.

East Kentwood turned up the pressure early in the second period, tallying five shots on goal before Alpena had one. Bolanowski was tested, but kept the game scoreless with several big saves.

“They’re always a good team. We told the boys before the game tonight that they never field a bad team,” Montroy said of East Kentwood. “They compete, they’re very good offensively, they’re usually pretty defensively sound, so you’ve got to play a really good game to beat them.”