A signature win for Alpena
Wildcats win Blue Line Tournament with win over East Kentwood
It didn’t take long for the Alpena High hockey team get its first signature win of the season as the Wildcats knocked off East Kentwood 2-1 in the championship game of the annual Blue Line Tournament at Northern Lights Arena on Saturday.
“It was a huge win for us. I thought both teams were evenly matched. All three lines were rolling today and that is when we are at our best,” Alpena coach Pete Doubek said.
Much like the previous night, Alpena came out firing and opened the scoring less than two minutes into the game when Lars MacArthur took the puck across the blue line and toward the corner of the net where he dished a perfect pass to a wide open Tom Hein for a goal to give the Wildcats an early lead.
Three minutes later, Alpena extended its lead as MacArthur was in the right place at the right time as a shot from the point was fired and MacArthur got the rebound and lit the lamp to give his team a 2-0 advantage. Shane Hamp and Wade Roznowski assisted on MacArthur’s goal.
“We started off hot and I think Lars set that off because his first shift was phenomenal. He was everywhere, fired up, making good decisions and I think the team fed off of that,” Doubek said.
The Wildcats took their two goal lead into the second period, but East Kentwood cut into the lead about halfway through the period as Alex Randall scored on a shot that was taken just in front of the blue line. Brady Strabel and Brandon Love assisted on the Randall goal.
Alpena was able to kill off a few penalties in the period and went into the third period with a 2-1 lead as the Wildcats outshot East Kentwood 26-10 through the first two period.
The third period featured end-to-end action by both teams. Alpena’s Dakota Meyer and Falcons goaltender Trevor Stephenson played strong in net and came up with big saves at crucial times throughout the period to keep the score close.
Once again the Wildcats were solid on the penalty kill, displayed solid forechecking and was able to keep the puck away from East Kentwood towards the end of the game.
The chances that the Falcons did have were erased as Meyer made several key saves late to prevent the tying goal.
“Dakota played so well today. He controls the rebounds so well and the rest of the team is confident playing in front of him,” Doubek said. “We talked late in the game about not letting the puck get through to our end and we executed really well.”
The Wildcats were able to hang on to that one goal lead and earn the win. It was also the first time since 2007 that Alpena was able to claim the title as champions of the Blue Line Tournament.
“We have to take it one game at a time. Obviously this is a great win and the kids are going to enjoy that,” Doubek said. “We’ll have a little time to recuperate before we play on Tuesday and hopefully we’ll come ready to play.”
Alpena will be back in action on Tuesday when they host Petoskey in what will be the teams final game of 2016, so the Wildcats will be looking to end what has been a successful year on a positive note.
“Petoskey’s goalie is outstanding and we know that. We are going to have to get traffic in front of the net and pressure them until we score,” Doubek said. “If we can play like we did today the rest of the year I think we will have a great rest of the season. We have a great group of kids that really take pride into what they do.”
Jonny Zawacki can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5690.