Within their grasp

It was a high scoring night at the Northern Lights Arena on Friday.

After trailing 4-0 in the second period, the Alpena Wildcats scored four unanswered goals to tie Escanaba 4-4. But late overtime goal by Derek Chaillier gave Escanaba the win.

“It wasn’t the prettiest win, but I guess you’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day. In overtime we told them it comes down to who wants it more and them came out for the win,” Escanaba coach Matt Hughes said.

Escanaba (1-1) took control of the first period, when Stephen Wood knocked in the Eskymos first goal just under four minutes in, off a Levi Wunder assist.

Alpena’s (2-2) offense didn’t click in the first period. A few scoring chances, mostly by Matt Tucker, came and went without success. Escanaba outshot Alpena 13-5 in the first period.

That offensive pressure paid off when Wunder hit an unassisted goal with 3:25 left in the period. Wunder hit another goal 30 seconds later with a Chaillier assist to take a quick 3-0 lead.

“The first period was tough. We weren’t moving our feet and we got shut out there,” Alpena coach Pete Doubek said.

Boilore had 25 saves for the night.

Penalty minutes were extremely low. Alpena had only four minutes of penalty time, all in the second, while Escanaba had two minutes in the third period.

Alpena’s first penalty, a minute and a half into the second period, cost it a power play goal off a Quintin McCarthy shot. Jeffry Lyle and TJ Myrick assisted to give the Eskymos a 4-0 lead.

The Wildcats had been shut out in its last game against Cheboygan and were feeling a bit down about its offensive abilities.

“In hockey, when you get shut out for too long, you lose confidence that you can score,” Doubek said.

Jared Plume broke the scoring drought two minutes later when he knocked in a shot on Reed Hamp and Cole Cosbitt assists to narrow the spread to 4-1.

“When that first goal went in there, the kids realized ‘wow, if we work hard, we can actually put the puck in the net,'” Doubek said.

This goal opened a flood gate for Alpena. Cosbitt flipped one past the glove of Nicholas LeMire, who had 37 saves on the night, a minute and a half later to close the gap to 4-2. Reed Hamp and Evan Hamp assisted on the goal.

“We kind of deflated once they popped a couple of quick goals on us,” Hughes said.

Six minutes later, Tait Froggett slipped one past LeMire off a Brody Nowak pass to put the Wildcats in striking distance at 4-3.

The Eskymoes continued to outshoot the Wildcats, having a 25-16 shot lead after two periods.

Both teams had scoring opportunities in the third, including an Alpena shot that seemingly dropped in the net two minutes into the period. The referee waved it off, indicating he meant to blow his whistle before the puck entered the net.

However, Cosbitt dropped one in the back with 5:32 left in the game off a pass from Zack Kendziorski to tie the game 4-4.

Lemire turned away a Cosbitt breakaway with eight seconds left, keeping the game tied and sending it to overtime.

The Eskymoes held the puck in its half long enough to set up its game winning goal. LeMire pitched it to Chaillier who dropped it in with 2:51 left in the game.

“(With) that last play, those guys won a 50-50 battle in the race to the puck. Our defense held it in and took a shot and hit the goalie and it ended up trickling in,” Huges said.

Alpena and Escanaba play again today at 2 p.m. in the Northern Lights Arena.

Eric Benac can be reached via email at ebenac@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.