Wildcats skate past Clarskton



News Sports Editor

It was business as usual for the Alpena hockey team on Saturday at Northern Lights Arena.

More solid all-around play, more goal scoring and yet another victory.

Brody Nowak scored a hat trick and Nick Esch added two goals as the Wildcats topped Clarkston 7-1 for their seventh straight victory.

Much like their 8-0 win over Petoskey on Wednesday, the Wildcats (14-4-1) set the tone early in Saturday’s game too. They led 4-0 after one period, kept the opposing goaltender busy and connected twice on the power-play.

“Our team was quite a bit better than Clarkston. You don’t talk down about a team, but I think we were quite a bit more skilled,” Alpena coach Pete Doubek said. “The kids did come out (strong). Their pregame focus has been great coming down the stretch. I love it when we get in the game and come out to a strong start, get those big jump (with) those first goals.”

Nowak saved his impressive goal of the day for last. With Alpena leading 6-1 in the second period, Nowak beat Clarkston goaltender Brendan Borawski in the top right corner with a shot past his outstretched glove with 2:42 left.

He kicked off Alpena’s high-scoring day in the first period with a goal with 12:42 left and connected later in the frame on the power-play with 5:29 left, making a move around a defender to fire a shot into an open net.

Nowak also assisted on a goal to finish with a four-point game.

Clarkston fell behind early and was outshot 14-2 in the opening period. The Wolves’ only goal came with 9:40 left in the middle frame when Justin Stasevich scored to make it 4-1.

The Wolves’ collected 21 penalty minutes for the game, hurting their chances to challenge Alpena. This included a five-minute major penalty late in the first period that Alpena capitalized on with 16.8 seconds left when Esch scored in traffic to make it 4-0.

Esch scored again with 8:53 left in the second period off a deflection and Jacob Hamp followed with a goal a minute in a half later when he shot, missed and buried the rebound for a goal.

Hamp, Nowak, Wade Roznowski, Evan LeTourneau, Jensen Saddler, Rhett Limback and Ben Budnik each had an assist for Alpena and goaltender Ben Matteson made six saves.

Nathan Cosbitt had Alpena’s other goal, lighting the lamp with 8:18 left in the first period on a slap shot.

Saturday’s game marked the fifth consecutive time the Wildcats have scored at least six goals in a game and in that span Alpena is outscoring its opponents 35-7. Even with that success, Doubek and his staff continue to preach good habits on the ice and doing all the fundamental things, especially with a challenging slate of conference games remaining.

“What this team does really, really well is they practice super hard. They are one of the toughest groups of kids on that practice sheet,” Doubek said. “They go against each other in practice and we reinforce the good habits and try to eliminate the bad obviously.”

Alpena will play at Cheboygan on Wednesday and host Cadillac on Friday.

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