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On a winning track

Wildcats top Cadillac for victory on special Senior Night

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena’s Tanner Orban looks to pass to a teammate during the first period of a hockey game on Friday against Cadillac at Northern Lights Arena. Orban was one of seven Alpena seniors honored on Senior Night before the game.

Hunter Canute scored one for Mom.

Canute scored his first goal of the season and Anden Marceau scored on a 2-on-1 in the second period as the Alpena High hockey team stated to a 2-1 Senior Night win over Cadillac on Friday at Northern Lights Arena.

During a pre-game speech, Canute’s mother Mandy told him to go out with high energy, a smile on his face and to put a puck in the net for his mother.

Canute delivered on his mom’s wish when he poked a puck past Cadillac goalie Nathan Moore with an assist from Brett Ciupka with 5:11 left in the first period, tying the contest 1-1.

Alpena (8-11-2, 5-2 Big North Conference) blanked Cadillac 5-0 less than two weeks ago in Cadillac, but the Wildcats faced a much tougher challenge the second time around. Cadillac scored the game’s first goal on a power-play tally from Ian Lilly and consistently challenged Alpena netminder Colin Lightfoot.

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena’s Brett Ciupka gets a high-five from his mother Kristin after he was announced as part of the starting lineup for Friday’s game. Five team moms, including Ciupka gave pre-game speeches to the Wildcats and announced Alpena’s starters.

Alpena outshot Cadillac 23-16 for the game, but the Vikings had several quality chances, including a few in the final two minutes with the goalie pulled.

“I thought Cadillac played a great game tonight. I thought they bottled things up and created opportunities when they needed to,” Alpena coach Chris Limback said. “We were fortunate tonight. They had a couple good chances to score down the stretch.”

Marceau netted his 14th goal of the season and put Alpena ahead for good less than a minute into the middle frame. The Wildcats caught Cadillac’s defense out of position and Tanner Orban and Marceau skated in 2-on-1 on Moore for a chance that Marceau buried.

Cadillac tried several times to net the equalizer, but came up empty. Less than two minutes into the third period Carson Carlington skated in alone for a breakaway chance on Lightfoot, but missed. His line mate Bryan Farley skated in for a rebound shot, but couldn’t connect. The Vikings also pulled their goalie with around two minutes left and threw several shots at Lightfoot, but were stopped.

Before the game, the Wildcats got a pregame surprise as several team moms came into the locker room to announce the starting lineup–Lightfoot, Sean Stevens, Canute, Jack Hamp, Orban and Ciupka–and give the team a pregame speech.

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena’s Anden Marceau scores on Cadillac goaltender Nathan Moore during the second period of a hockey game on Friday at Northern Lights Arena.

“Tonight you boys need to put that (last weekend’s loss to Cheboygan) behind you because tonight we’re going to win. Your fans haven’t watched Wildcat hockey at home in three weeks and they’re all here tonight and they’re ready to cheer you on and they’re ready to see you win,” Mandy Canute said. “We’re ordering you to stay out of the penalty box, play hard, have fun and kick some (butt).

The idea to have the team moms give speeches was one that Limback dating back to last year and he was reminded of the idea when the Detroit Red Wings did it during the season. It turned out to be the perfect way to make an already special night even more special.

“It’s special for the kids and the moms. It’s one of those moments, win or lose, that everybody will remember,” Limback said.

Prior to the start of the game, the Wildcats honored their seven seniors–Ciupka, Canute, Stevens, Nick Schultz, Jimmy Bolanowski, Hamp and Orban. Limback praised the group for its leadership and keeping the team together during a tough start to the season. Alpena was 1-9-2 in early January but has gone 7-2 in the last month.

“They’re huge. With so many (underclassmen) our seniors have to lead us and set the example for those young kids,” Limback said of his seniors. “It was tough early on, but our seniors have done a nice job of keeping the team together and moving forward.”

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena’s Tanner Orban receives a fist bump from his mother before a hockey game on Friday at Northern Lights Arena. Several team moms gave pregame speeches to the Alpena High hockey team and announced the starting lineup.

Alpena hosts Petoskey today at 2 p.m.

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena hockey parent Mandy Canute speaks to Alpena High hockey players before Friday’s game.