Alpena takes advantage
Eleven seconds into a third period power-play on Saturday, Zack Kendziorski scored to give the Alpena High School hockey team a 1-0 lead.
When the Wildcats got another power-play about a minute later, Matthew Tucker buried a shot just five seconds into the man advantage.
It was just that kind of period for the Wildcats.
Alpena connected three times on the power-play in the final frame-all in a combined span of 21 seconds and Dereck VanVlerah made 13 saves in his first varsity start as the Wildcats defeated Negaunee 3-0 at Northern Lights Arena to win the 2013 Huron Shores Tournament.
In a game that saw 52 penalty minutes given out between the two teams, the Wildcats (2-0) were strong on the penalty kill for the second straight night and kept Negaunee goaltender Anthony Moyle busy in the third period offensively.
“It’s awesome. When people come to your town, you want to show them what you’ve got and prove yourself,” Kendziorski said. “The start of the year you’re a little rusty still, but it’s a good step.”
Kendziorski led Alpena with two goals and was named the team’s MVP after the game. Moyle earned MVP honors for the Miners.
Alpena outshot Negaunee 16-4 in the final period and had several quality scoring chances in addition to its strong power-play.
Kendziorski gave Alpena a 1-0 lead on the power-play with 10:34 left in the final frame after he beat Moyle through the five-hole with an assist from Jared Plume.
“(We) won the faceoff, great faceoff win by Tait (Froggett), got the puck out to the point, Jared slid in and passed it over to me, I slid out and took a shot, happened to get it by him,” Kendziorski said.
After the Miners took a penalty for crosschecking with 9:27 left, Tucker converted the power-play chance just five seconds later, putting in his own rebound after a one-timer.
Kendziorski capped Alpena’s scoring with 38 seconds left in the frame, converting another power-play just five seconds in.
The first two periods saw very little offensive flow as both teams were constantly whistled for penalties. The Wildcats spent nearly half of the opening period in the penalty box, but were able to kill each of the Miners’ five chances. This came on the heels of a solid night for Alpena’s penalty kill on Friday against Utica Stevenson.
“The penalty kill, it had to be good. I looked up at the board one time and I think we had 21 minutes in penalties and the shots were still 9-9,” Alpena coach Pete Doubek said. “The penalty kill was great. I don’t want to lean on it too much, but it’s good to know it’s there.”
Alpena got a 5-on-3 advantage midway through the second period, but was unable to convert. The rest of the period saw Alpena whistled for penalties four times and the Miners eventually got a 5-on-3 advantage of their own for a minute and a half.
VanVlerah came up big during the final few minutes of the frame, making several sprawling saves and one with his shoulder to keep the game scoreless.
“He played outstanding. You could tell he was nervous, but once he relaxed he was solid,” Doubek said. “His side to side movement was great and he was square to the puck. It was a great game for him.”
With the game scoreless after 34 minutes, Alpena came out firing in the third period. In the first few minutes, Plume fired a shot that slid across the crease, but no one was there to grab the rebound. Later in the period, with Alpena up 2-0, Karsten Alexander skated in with Tucker on a 2-on-1 and a shot missed up high.
The weekend and the tournament title serve as stepping stones for a team that is still working to develop chemistry and develop a foundation to build on.
“You always want to come out of the gates hard. It gives the kids a sense of confidence and like Zack said the kids are still getting to know each other and we’re still learning what our strengths and weaknesses are,” Doubek said. “It gives you a good foundation to build from.”
Alpena hosts Cheboygan on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
In the consolation game, Alpena’s JV team beat Utica Stevenson 1-0 after a third period goal from Jake Hamp assisted by Rhett Limback.
James Andersen can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.