Taken down by TC

Central shuts out Alpena to remain unbeaten in BNC

News Photos by Jonny Zawacki Alpena’s Owen Limback (8) attempts to get a shot past Traverse City Central goaltender Spencer Torres (34) while falling to the ice during the first period of a Big North Conference hockey game on Friday at Northern Lights Arena.

Cam and Chris Givens each walked side by side before Alpena and Traverse City Central took the ice on Friday night. Once the teams hits the ice, the two made their way to opposite benches for the first time. Once the puck dropped, it was business as usual for the coaches, but what was unusual was the end result as the Wildcats were shut out on their home ice, falling to the Trojans by a final score of 6-0.

“I had a good, long talk with him (Chris) before the game, very relaxed and joking around and he wished me luck, told me he loved me and told me he would talk to me after,” Cam said. “We really didn’t communicate a lot during the game, because I tried to stay to myself and focus on the task at hand. I thought early we played well, but just couldn’t capitalize on a few opportunities and the third period really hurt us.”

Both teams came and played an evenly matched first period of hockey. Alpena put the pressure on the visitors early, but Central goaltender Spencer Torres was strong in net all game.

The Wildcats fired shots at the net throughout the early stages of the opening period, but couldn’t get anything past Torres.

Central picked up the pace late in the period and opened the scoring with 3:43 left in the period when Charlie Douglass received a pass from Noah Kendra from the side of the net and Douglass was able to beat Alpena goalie Cooper Black on the far side of the net to give the Trojans a one goal lead after 17 minutes of play.

“This was probably one of the grittiest games we’ve played in several years. We talk about it a lot, but we just haven’t done it consistently. The way we were able to block shots, kill off penalties and just really battle hard was really good to see and I’m proud of my guys tonight,” Chris said. “It was weird coaching against him (Cam) tonight, but once the game got going, it was just another game and you take that other part out of it. He was a big part of Trojans hockey and remembering all of our long trips and being apart of this rivalry and seeing him today in the same building and seeing him in the Wildcats’ bench. I’m not going to lie, that was strange at first, but once we got going we were both just doing our thing.”

The Wildcats struggled to do their thing, especially in the second period as they had two five on three power play opportunities, but couldn’t do much of anything on either power play and midway through the period Alpena failed to kill off a power play as the Trojans set up a beautiful play when Kyle Knowles delivered a perfect pass to a wide open Kendra in front of the net who scored a pretty back hand goal to give Central a two goal lead.

The Trojan penalty kill was key all game, but it was important in the second period as they didn’t allow Alpena to get many good scoring opportunities.

“We couldn’t capitalize on our chances. The guys who we wanted to have the puck in certain spots had it, but we just couldn’t execute and Central did,” Cam said. “We were freaking out with the puck too much, it was like a hot potato. A couple times we got bottled up in our own zone because of Central’s aggressive penalty kill and I give them credit because they run the penalty kill very well.”

The first seven minutes of the third period spelled the end for Alpena as Lars MacArthur was called for a five minute major and unlike Central’s penalty kill, the Wildcats were unable to stop the Trojans when they were shorthanded.

Central scored a flurry of goals during a four minute stretch to give them a 5-0 lead.

Kendra scored his second goal of the game with 14:11 left in the game when he skated through the Wildcat defense and found the back of the net.

Exactly two minutes later, Jesse Blesh scored on a wrist shot from the blue line and Central got its fourth and final power play goal of the night and third of the period when Kendra bounced the puck around the boards behind the net that ended up on the stick of Carson Peters as the Trojans led by five with 10:46 remaining.

Central added its final goal of the game with 4:31 to play when Nick Sommerfield pick up a loose puck after a scrum in front of the net and scored to give the Trojans a 6-0 lead and one they hung on to as Torres stopped 32 shots to record a shutout.

Central improves to 5-3 overall on the year and have a strong grip on first place in the BNC with a 4-0 record.

“Cam and I talked before the game that the winner of tonights game isn’t winning anything and the loser is not out of it. We started off 2-3 last year and finished 7-3 and won the conference, so we both know there is a lot of hockey left to play and there is so much that’s going to happen,” Chris said.

Alpena falls to 5-3-3 overall on the year and the Wildcats suffered their first conference loss and are now 1-1-1 in BNC play.

After the game, Cam and Chris shared a hug and cherished a special moment between a father and son.

“There wasn’t a lot said during the handshake and hug, just a quick little message. He said he was proud of me and told me to keep on working and I congratulated him,” Cam said. “It was very little, but I’m sure we’ll have a deeper conversation after and talk about the game like we normally would when I was playing.”