Wildcats top Esky at home

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena High hockey players Owen Limback, left, Colby Plowman (3), Keegan Matthews, right, and Mitch Agius (not pictured) celebrate Matthews' first period goal during a hockey game on Friday at Northern Lights Arena.

Having a few days off helped the Alpena High hockey team get back on a winning track.

The Wildcats scored twice on the power-play and scored twice in the third period on the way to defeating Escanaba 4-1 on Friday at Northern Lights Arena.

Sean Stevens, Lars MacArthur, Kyle VanDusen and Keegan Matthews each scored for the Wildcats (6-3-3), who earned a win for coach Chris Limback who returned to the bench after missing six games to recover from surgery he had earlier this month.

Six days after their worst defeat of the season–a 6-0 blanking against Traverse City Central–the Wildcats were a different team on Friday. They created plenty of offensive chances, kept Escanaba netminder Brodie Goddard busy and converted on special teams.

Alpena outshot the Eskymos 32-14 for the game.

“I thought we played well. I thought we created a lot of chances, but then the game was still close, I thought their goalie made some nice saves to keep it close,” Chris Limback said. “Then I thought we got loose and lax and when you create a lot of chances, sometimes you forget about your responsibilities defensively.”

Alpena led 1-0 after one period and made it 2-0 just 1:45 into the middle frame when MacArthur got a good bounce off the boards and put a shot past Goddard on the power-play.

The Wildcats kept up their offensive barrage, but the Eskymos (2-4) cut the lead in half with 8:59 left in the frame as Brayden Stannard caught a pass on the short side and beat Alpena goaltender Jimmy Bolanowski.

“That was our top line, they made a great play. Christer Carne blocked a shot, stayed with it, hustled down the wall and put the puck into an area where Brayden Stannard skated into it and Brayden deked and finished,” Escanaba coach Matt Hughes said. “It was a good goal, it got us back in the game, but unfortunately we gave up the next one and the one after that.”

The Wildcats struck again on the power-play with 12:20 left in the game as VanDusen scored. A shot on goal bounced high off the boards over the head of Goddard and onto the stick of VanDusen, who scored into an open net.

Stevens completed the scoring for the Wildcats with 8:45 left as the puck trickled through Goddard’s legs.

Kyle VanDusen, Owen Limback and Noah VanDusen each had two assists and Anthony Berg had one. Bolanowski finished with 13 saves for the Wildcats and Goddard made 28 for Escanaba.

The Wildcats took the fight to the Eskymos early, outshooting Escanaba 16-2 in the opening frame of what proved to be a physical contest. Still, after 17 minutes, Matthews’ goal proved to be the only one in the first period.

“They play hard. The one thing they always do is they compete and you’ve got to be willing to outwork them,” Limback said of the Eskymos. “When you get chances you have to capitalize on them.”

With a quick turnaround, Hughes is hoping to see a more inspired effort from his team. The two teams will play again at 1 p.m. today in Alpena.

“I thought we showed some signs of playing good hockey, but I don’t think our total effort was there and they definitely came out to play, Alpena did,” Hughes said. “We need to give a better effort than what we did. We showed signs of it, but guys need to go every single shift.”