Alpena Warriors Hockey

The Alpena Warriors girls hockey team recently returned to action, splitting two games with arch rival Midland. In the first contest, Alpena controlled most of the game as they came away with a hard-fought 2-1 victory. During the contest, assistant captain Lexie Gries went down with a lower body injury and was unable to play in the second game. Having to juggle lines, the Warriors fell behind early and never recovered suffering a 6-1 defeat during the afternoon contest.

In the first game, Alpena’s Emily Vivian continued her torrid scoring streak as she got the Warriors on the board with the game’s first goal on an assist from Taylor Tolsdorf in the second period. Midway through the final stanza, Midland found the back of the net on a scramble to best Alpena goalie Emma Fraser. Erin Bailey and Hunter Lundquist set up Alpena’s Player of the Game Rheanna Chimner who tipped the game winner past Midland’s goalie. Alpena players visited the penalty box on two occasions and Midland saw the sin bin once during the contest.

“For years Rheanna Chimner has been one of our team’s younger players. I’ll be honest. I’ve been much harder on her this year because we’ve needed her to elevate her game. Rather than give up, she’s put extra time in on her skills on the ice and at home. We practiced that play all week and she made it work to perfection. It’s very gratifying as a coach to watch a player take your suggestions and see the smile when it pays off on the ice and the scoresheet,” Alpena coach Mike Nunneley said.

Alpena’s second contest started out bad and progressively worsened as injuries forced line-up changes.

“We learned many valuable lessons in our second game,” Nunneley said. “We learned you have to play every shift with passion, that every player on our team is vital to our success, and everyone has responsibilities to themselves and each other.”

“I take full responsibility for our team’s effort in the second game. We weren’t ready or prepared to play our kind of hockey. As a coaching staff we made adjustments that flat out didn’t work. We made decisions on the bench that didn’t work, and we didn’t prepare our team mentally for our second game and the score showed. In years past we would have been thrilled to split with Midland on their ice. It was a very quiet locker room at the end of the day. In the big picture, if we learn to hate that feeling, we’ll be a better team for it.”

Midland scored two goals in the first period and added three in the second period before Emily Vivian transformed a pass from Alpena’s player of the game Lizzy Heath into the Warriors only point of the game. Midland finished the game’s scoring with a final goal in the third period.

“We tried a couple of things to fill the loss of one of our top three defensemen and our early adjustments didn’t work,” Nunneley said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t give our goalie much support in the second game. We asked Lizzy Heath to play defense and offense at different times during the weekend which, for a second-year player, is a tall task. Lizzy gives you everything she has and was one of the few bright spots in the second game.” 

Newcomers Maddie Parr and Kennedy Ellis saw limited ice time in the contest. “Maddie and Kennedy got vital experience in the second game. They’ve never been in an emotional contest like that (as the combined penalties showed). With the players we’re losing at the end of the year, at least we were able to give them a taste of a rivalry game to prepare them for bigger roles next year,” Nunneley said.

Alpena returns to home ice action Saturday at 10:30 & 3:30 against Bad Axe at Northern Lights Arena.

“Things don’t get any easier this weekend. We haven’t beat Bad Axe all year. When we needed a victory or tie in the Battle on the Bay, we played desperate hockey against Bad Axe and it showed,” Nunneley said. “If we play tough, grinding, Alpena hockey, we’ll be fine; we must learn from our second game against Midland and commit to winning as a coaching staff and as a team.”