Alpena Warriors host first ever alumni games

The first ever Alpena Hockey Association Girls Hockey Alumni Weekend resulted in lots of smiles from the pioneers of Alpena Girls Hockey and the current Alpena Warriors Warriors team. Nearly $1,500 was raised for the Alpena Warriors and the weekend saw an All-Star effort from forward Emily Vivian who netted seven goals in two games.

The Alpena Alumni jumped to a 4-1 lead in the first period of Friday night’s Green AHA Girls Alumni Game on two goals from Kelli Adrian and a goal apiece from Summer Werth and Sarah Matash. Vivian netted the Warriors’ only goal of the period.

In the second period, the Green Alumni made it 5-1 on Matash’s second goal of the game.

In the third period, the Warriors turned up the heat as Vivian completed her hat trick along with one goal each from Tatum Moran and Lizzy Kendziorski to knot the game at 5 -5 with time running out. As the last seconds ticked down the Warriors mounted one more charge and with eight seconds left, alumni goalie Becca Pavowski snared a Warrior shot to maintain the tie.

Jessie Kendziorski tallied two assists for the alumni and Kirstin Turske, Cheyenne Prevost, Leslie Male, Adrian, Sarah Nunez and Holly Miller-Ewing each earned one apiece.

Lizzy Kendziorski gained the playmaker with three assists for the Warriors, Lexie Gries added two assists,Vivian, Huntor Ballor, Erin Bailey, Kelly Watson, and Moran each add one helper a piece. Goalies Heather Rensberry and Pavowski earned the tie in net.

In the second white alumni contest Saturday evening, the Warriors took the lead on the first of Vivian’s four goals in the opening period with assists from Alicia Ballor and Gabby Smith. In the second period, Hunter Ballor and Hunter Lundquist set up Vivian’s second goal. Midway through the third period, Vivian gave the Warriors a 3-0 lead with her natural hat trick as Courtney Nunneley and Kennedy Ellis set up her goal.

With less than three minutes to play, the alumni pulled its goalie and Jenny Smith found the back of the net on assists from Sarah Matash and Leslie Male to make the score 3-1. Male then added a second goal with 45 seconds left in the game on helpers from Kirstin Turske and Amy Nowakowski to bring the Alumni within one goal.

Vivian then finished the scoring and her third consecutive hat trick in her last three games with one second left in the game on an empty-netter. Nunneley and Warrior goalie Emma Fraser earned the assists on the final tally.

 “Emily has been our leading scorer in recent years, but she’s certainly raised her level of play during the first half of our season. We’ve always know she’s a special player and this year she is showing it,” Warriors coach Mike Nunneley said. “Don’t kid yourself, playing the best players of the past in Alpena girls hockey history was no easy task. We worked hard and came away with a win and a tie, everyone had fun and we raised over $1,500 for our team – in other words, we all enjoyed a perfect hockey weekend.”

The Alpena Warriors head back into regular season action next weekend with two games against Midland.

“As I told our team, we’ve had our fun during the holidays and now it’s time to get back to work. Midland has always had strong teams and we’ve been on the wrong any of several years of games against them. We’re going to work hard in practice and go down there and play Alpena hockey. We have several lofty goals left this year and it starts this weekend in Midland.” Nunneley said.

The money raised from the alumni event will go to pay for the Warriors State Tournament in March and the Traverse City Showcase in mid-January. These two events will showcase Michigan girls hockey to fans and college coaches alike.

“We’ve tried to make sure college hockey programs throughout the state know of Alpena and our graduating players, we’ve put five Warriors on college teams in recent years and we want to add to that number,” Nunneley said.

Nunneley also announced plans for a 2018 AHA Alumni Weekend.

“We’ve already informed the rink we want to schedule two games between the holidays next year preferably a Saturday afternoon and evening contest. We think we’ve started something special and want to continue the tradition,” Nunneley said.