Seizing opportunity

Four-goal second period powers Alpena to win

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena's Alex Cosbitt (16) shoots on Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central goaltender Nathan Riester during the second period of a hockey game on Friday at Northern Lights Arena.

Alpena High hockey coach Chris Limback has been tinkering with the Wildcats’ lines throughout the season, in constant search of combinations that give his team the best chance to win.

His latest combinations worked pretty well on Friday.

Kyle VanDusen and Colby Plowman each scored twice and the Wildcats used a big second period to overtake Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central in a 6-3 win at Northern Lights Arena.

Alex Cosbitt and Cody Sumerix added single tallies for Alpena (9-4-3) who improved to 7-2-1 at home this season.

The two sides skated to a 1-1 tie after one period, but a four-goal second period tipped the scales in Alpena’s favor.

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena players from left, Owen Limback, Kyle VanDusen, Colby Plowman and Alec Kent celebrate after VanDusen's goal late in the second period

Cooper Black made 11 saves to earn the win for Alpena and the Wildcats outshot the Falcons 41-14.

“We capitalized on our chances,” Limback said. “We just didn’t want to keep the game close because you just never know and especially with Kyle’s line (it) just very rarely misses.”

VanDusen’s line, which included Plowman and Lars MacArthur in Friday’s game finished with 10 points in the victory. VanDusen and Plowman have been paired together on Alpena’s top line all season and the addition of MacArthur put Alpena’s three leading goal scorers together on the same line.

VanDusen, who played in just 16 games last season, reached the 20-goal mark for the season with two tallies on Friday. In 16 games, he has 21 goals and 14 assists for 35 points.

“He’s just a great player. As a fan last year it was tough to see him out because he does so much for the team,” Limback said of VanDusen. “He’s a fun kid to watch out there; highly talented and when he has the puck on his stick you should be watching because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Sumerix netted a goal just 2:14 into the middle frame to give Alpena the lead for good. Sumerix picked the puck up behind the net and skated around to fire the puck past St. Mary goalie Nathan Riester.

Cosbitt put Alpena up by two with 11:04 in the middle period, scoring with assists from Sumerix and Keegan Matthews.

Alpena didn’t slow down with a two-goal cushion as VanDusen scored his second goal of the night with 3:31 left. With a power-play looming, VanDusen scored from the slot with assists from Plowman and MacArthur.

Plowman got on the board just 21 seconds later, with assists from VanDusen and MacArthur.

In all, Alpena’s top two lines combined for six goals, but Limback said he is still tinkering with line combinations as the Wildcats come down the stretch of the regular season.

“I still don’t think we’ve played a great game all year where I love all the lines, but down the stretch we have to try to get all three lines playing,” Limback said. “It’s trying to find that magical formula to see what gives us the best chemistry and the best chance to win on a nightly basis.”

Alpena got several power-play chances late in the game, but couldn’t capitalize. The Wildcats had 26 seconds with a 5-on-3 advantage to end the second period and nearly seven and a half minutes in the third period, but couldn’t score.

St. Mary connected on the power-play with 11:37 left to make it 5-2 and then again with 56 seconds left.

Sandwiched between those goals was Plowman’s second tally. With 11:01 left, VanDusen skated into St. Mary’s zone with a burst of speed and fired the puck across the slot to Plowman who buried the chance. VanDusen and Alec Kent both earned assists.

VanDusen put Alpena on the board first in the opening frame, scoring from the right circle with 13:50 left in the period.

St. Mary answered late in the frame when Cole Zalewski scored.

The two teams will play again at 1 p.m. today at Northern Lights Arena and Limback is hoping to see another strong effort from the Wildcats.

“Usually it’s harder (the second game of a back-to-back). Sometimes the shots can be misleading,” Limback said. “We outshot them a lot tonight, but sometimes you can come tomorrow and think about bad habits and not having to work together as a team. Sometimes it’s difficult, but you have to come ready to play.”

James Andersen can be reached via email at sports@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.