Down to the wire
Offense gave the Alpena High School hockey team the fast start it needed on Friday.
The Wildcats’ defense took them to the finish line.
Cade MacArthur scored twice and the Wildcats held off a third-period comeback from Utica Stevenson to earn a 3-2 win in their 2013-14 season opener at Northern Lights Arena
Alpena’s victory in the opening game of the 2013 Huron Shores Tournament puts the Wildcats into today’s championship game against Negaunee at 3 p.m.
Utica will play the Alpena JV team at 1 p.m. after Negaunee beat Alpena’s JV 7-3 in Friday’s second game.
Alpena (1-0) led 3-0 after two periods, but found itself clinging to a one-goal lead with 8:18 left. The Titans got extra boosts from three Alpena penalties called in the final five minutes. The last one came with less than 30 seconds left and saw Utica with a 6-on-3 advantage after pulling its goaltender.
“The kids played well for the most part, but we’ve got to stay out of the box. The box was our enemy tonight and we’re going to have to work on that,” Alpena coach Pete Doubek said. “They (the last two penalty kills) were big, but we shouldn’t have had to kill them, they weren’t good penalties.”
Alpena goaltender Jesse Boilore made 17 saves.
Jensen Saddler scored the first goal of the season for Alpena with 8:15 left in the opening frame with an assist from Zack Kendziorski.
After a few close chances by Alpena, MacArthur scored an unassisted goal with 9:43 left in the second period, shooting from just beyond the right circle.
He connected again just 3:21 later, beating Utica’s goaltender through the five-hole on a backhand with an assist from Joey Bracken.
MacArthur was named Alpena’s MVP after the game.
“Karsten passed it down to me and I was going to do a little give-and go and I kind of lost it in my skates, so I came around the net, Karsten came up with it again and threw it to me in the slot,” MacArthur said. “I didn’t really have time to turn and do a good shot, so I just did a floater backhand and it found its way to the back of the net.”
The Wildcats got an stroke of good luck along with MacArthur’s second tally. Utica Stevenson was given three concurrent penalties, giving Alpena two minutes with a two-man advantage and an extra two minutes of 5-on-4 play.
Stevenson killed all three penalties and finally got on the board in the opening minute of the third period with a power-play goal from Andrew Ledgewidge.
Julien George cut Alpena’s lead to one with 8:18 left, sending a shot past Boilore with traffic in front of the net.
“With the shots the way they were, you get against a hot goaltender like that and you’ve got to keep pressure on, you can’t let down,” Doubek said.
Alpena kept Utica at bay the rest of the way and had a few more solid chances despite the late penalties. With 7:30 to go, Cole Cosbitt poked the puck between a defender’s legs, adjusted his position and got a clear shot on net, but sent the shot high over the net.
Michael Farley led Negaunee with a hat trick in the night cap and the Miners’ pushed past the Wildcats in the third period after leading 4-3 with two periods gone.
Austin Girard had a power-play goal for the Wildcats in the first period with an assist from Rhett Limback. Zac Adrian added a goal in the second period with an assist from Limback and Jake Hamp scored for Alpena in the third period with Adrian earning the helper.
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.