Wildcats hang on to beat GRCC

TRENTON — The Alpena High hockey team completed a stellar weekend at the MIHL Showcase in Trenton over the weekend.

After defeating Flint Powers on Friday morning, the No. 9 ranked Wildcats returned to the ice Saturday and defeated No. 14 ranked Grand Rapids Catholic Central by a final score of 2-1.

With 4:11 left in the game, Kyle VanDusen lit the lamp for the fourth time in the weekend showcase on an assist from Plowman to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead late.

Catholic Central continued applying pressure and the Cougars nearly tied the game with 2:30 left after the puck went past Alpena goalie Cooper Black, but the goal was waved off because it was confirmed that a skater kicked it into the net.

After a Cougar penalty with just over two minutes to play, it looked like Alpena was in good shape to be on the man advantage with little time left, but the Wildcats were called for a penalty of their own with 2:01 left and Catholic Central pulled its goaltender to go on a 5-on-4 advantage.

Black and the Wildcats stood tall in the final minutes and with 20 seconds to go, Catholic Central was on a two man advantage after their penalty was up and the Cougars made one final push to tie the game, but Black came up huge in the final seconds making a pair of phenomenal saves to secure the win.

“I thought the kids were great today. Today everyone stepped up and got involved, especially down the stretch and I’m just so proud of this squad and what they were able to accomplish this weekend,” Alpena coach Chris Limback said. “Five penalty kills definitely changed the momentum, but we kept our composure and I can’t say enough about how awesome it is to come down here and get two wins.”

The Cougars took it to Alpena much of the game and put a lot of pressure on the Wildcats (15-4-1) as Alpena was on the penalty kill for nearly an entire period.

Despite the fast start from Catholic Central, the story of the weekend was Black who was peppered with shots, but was up to the task as he’s been all season.

The Cougars put five shots on Black within the first five minutes of the game, but were unable to get one past the Wildcat goaltender early.

Alpena opened the scoring with 6:41 left in the first period when the Wildcats made their first shot on goal count as Charlie Halleck found a way to get the puck out from behind the net to a wide open Blaise Keller who was in the right place at the right time for the game’s first goal.

Catholic Central began the second period on a two man advantage, but still was unable to slide one past Black until midway through the period when a shot from the point was redirected past Black as the pressure finally led to a Cougars goal as they were able to tie the game 1-1 after two periods.

The Wildcats had a golden opportunity early in the third period when Colby Plowman was awarded a penalty shot, but missed high on the backhand as the game remained tied at one goal apiece.

Black played incredible between the pipes in the two games as he stopped 61 of the 63 shots he faced over the weekend and is now getting some serious recognition.

As good as Black was, VanDusen was equally impressive as he tallied four goals on the weekend and the total team effort from an Alpena team that seems to be playing its best hockey right now, has gained a lot of attention.

“I like our squad and I like what we did this weekend and we just find a way. Everyone got great ice time against quality teams and that’s going to make us better,” Limback said. “It’s all effort and that’s what we preach. It’s been an enjoyable year to be apart of and I’m glad getting into this tournament worked out for us and we were able to come away with two wins, I think we may have turned some heads. There’s still a lot of work to do, but right now I like where we are at and words can’t describe how proud I am of this group.”

BOYS BASKETBALL

Alpena 100, Dearborn Heights Crestwood 53

DETROIT–There was no stopping the Alpena boys basketball team on Saturday.

Chris DeRocher scored 43 points, Kelley Stark added 14 and 10 of Alpena’s 12 players scored on the way to a dominant 100-53 win over Dearborn Heights Crestwood at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

Aleena (12-2) built a big lead early and never looked back. Alpena led 24-7 after one quarter and built its lead to 53-23 by halftime.

“It was quite the game for us offensively,” Alpena coach John Pintar said. “It was a great and memorable experience for our players and the way we played was even better.”

DeRocher caught fire early shooting from outside and finished with 43 points, the third highest single-game total in Alpena’s history.

Alpena went on to outscore the Chargers 22-15 in the third quarter and 25-15 in the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats’ scoring output was Alpena’s highest since they scored 86 in a win during a Jan. 2013 game.

Pintar said the opportunity to play at the home of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons was made possible by Chargers’ coach Mike Bright, the brother of Alpena JV coach Bill Bright.

“We’re very thankful to Coach Bright for giving us a chance to get down there and play,” Pintar said.

Alpena plays at Cheboygan on Tuesday.