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Working for a win

Orban stars as Wildcats top Petoskey in high-scoring game

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena’s Hunter Canute, right, celebrates his second period goal with teammate Jaden Marchlowski during a game against Petoskey on Saturday at Northern Lights Arena. Canute’s goal gave Alpena a 4-2 lead and was Canute’s second goal in as many games.

In a high-scoring game with lots of offense, Tanner Orban’s big day propelled the Alpena High hockey team to another win.

Orban tallied a hat trick and added an assist to help the Wildcats skate past Petoskey 7-4 at Northern Lights Arena on Saturday.

In a game that saw 11 goals and 79 shots on goal, the Wildcats (9-11-2, 6-2 Big North Conference) played the Northmen even for a period and then pulled away with five goals over the final two frames.

Anden Marceau had two goals and Ben Nowak and Hunter Canute had single tallies for the Wildcats, who won for the seventh time in their last eight games.

Orban made his presence known early, scoring just 21 seconds into the game. He connected again just 36 seconds into the middle frame, beating Petoskey goalie Will Parker top shelf to put Alpena ahead for good. He lit the lamp for a third time with 2:33 left in the second period, fitting the puck in a tight space between the left post and Parker’s arm with Alpena on the power-play.

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena’s Blaise Keller fights for control of the puck with Petoskey’s Derek Hebner (23) behind the Petoskey net during the first period.

“He’s a great player and he’s a guy that we need to play great down the stretch,” Alpena coach Chris Limback said of Orban.

Petoskey, which dropped a 5-3 decision at home to Alpena last month, came out with something to prove. The Northmen peppered Alpena goaltender Colin Lightfoot with shots right away and outshot Alpena 7-1 in the first five minutes of the game. Alpena rebounded with eight straight shots over the next five minutes, but the Northmen kept at it and outshot Alpena by nearly a 2-to-1 margin for the game–51-28.

Derek Hebner, Ethan Decker, Jordan Troxel and Dylan Robinson each scored for Petoskey and Lightfoot finished with 47 saves.

“With 50 shots I thought they controlled the play in the offensive zone. We were just lax in our movement with pucks, our desire to get to pucks and just getting to things,” Limback said. “As the game went on, I thought he (Lightfoot) got better.”

After Orban’s quick first-period score, Marceau scored with an assist from Brody Thompson with 11:14 left in the frame. Parker had trouble clearing the puck and Marceau tapped it in.

Petoskey rallied to tie the game after Robinson and Hebner scored. Robinson beat Lightfoot glove side with 6:43 left and Hebner lit the lamp with 33 seconds left, getting a shot through in traffic.

After Orban gave Alpena a 3-2 lead early in the middle stanza, Canute connected for the second time in as many games with 13:26 left. Canute took an outlet pass from Matt Thompson and buried it to give Alpena a two-goal lead.

Petoskey connected on the power-play with 5:40 left when Decker beat Lightfoot up high to make it 4-3. That was as close as the Northmen got as Orban scored just over two minutes later.

Nowak upped Alpena’s lead to 6-3 with 13:35 left in the game, connecting from right in front on assists from Marceau and Ian Lightfoot.

Troxel made it 6-4 about a minute later, but Alpena connected again with 6:12 on another goal from Marceau, who buried a rebound after it bounced off Parker. Orban and Brody Thompson earned assists.

Since the beginning of the year, the Wildcats have had a complete turnaround, going 8-3 in the last six weeks. Despite some early injuries and setbacks, Limback said the Wildcats have grown exponentially and displaying better teamwork has played a big part in their recent success.

“It’s growth. Early on we took a lot of selfish penalties and we just played selfish hockey,” Limback said. “We have to play together and work together and if we do that, we’ll be successful. We’ve matured a lot, we’ve stayed out of the box and we’re learning what it takes to win hockey games.”

Alpena hosts Traverse City West at 6 p.m. on Friday and plays at Midland at 5 p.m. on Saturday.