No looking back
News Sports Editor
After falling behind 2-0 lead less than seven minutes into a junior hockey game on Friday, Alpena Street Cats coach Igor Myaskovskiy offered a strongly-worded reminder that his team needed to play better.
The Street Cats got the message.
Savelii Skurikhin and Pavel Bocharov each scored a hat trick and the Street Cats rolled past the Michigan Ice Dogs 9-3 at Northern Lights Arena to get back to the .500 mark.
“I told them if you’re not ready to play, you won’t hear another word from me,” Myaskovskiy said of Alpena’s slow start. “We’re on the right track right now. We’ll try to finish all three games this weekend to get the points.”
Alpena (11-11) connected four times on the power-play and overcame a two-goal deficit with five goals in the second period after skating to a 2-2 tie after one period.
Skurikhin gave Alpena the lead for good just 36 seconds into the middle frame, sending a shot whizzing past Ice Dogs goalie Anthony Veresan’s glove.
He added another goal a few minutes later after his shot lifted over Veresan’s pad to give Alpena a 4-2 lead.
Skurikhin finished off his hat trick on the power-play with 3:51 left in the game when his shot sailed under Veresan’s arm to give Alpena a 9-3 lead.
“We started this game very, very bad. We were not prepared for it mentally, but we understood our mistakes and tried to fix them,” Skurikhin said. “I tried to be a leader of the team and I just think I did my job.”
The Ice Dogs got to Alpena goaltender Vlad Salagin in the first period, scoring twice on six shots in the first seven minutes with goals from Michael Ryan and Hunter Ledgerwood.
After a pep talk from Myaskovskiy, Bocharov knotted the game with two goals in a 27-second span. On his first goal, he ripped a shot from the blue line and his second tally came after he fired a wrist shot past Veresan that knocked off the crossbar.
“We felt it was very bad because we must win against this team and a couple gentle words from our coach helped us get back in the game,” Skurikhin said.
Bocharov ripped a slapshot from just inside the blue line on the power-play with 9:43 left in the game to complete his hat trick. He also had three assists for a six-point night.
Alpena outshot the Ice Dogs 39-31 for the game including a whooping 20-7 in the second period and Aleksandr Shiskin finished with 24 saves in relief of Salagin who was pulled after the Ice Dogs’ second goal.
The Street Cats had a goal disallowed early in the second period after Bocharov took a drop pass and buried a shot with 15:38 left. Alpena didn’t have to wait long to score again though as Andrei Yanovich scored on the power-play to put the Street Cats ahead 5-2 with 15:20 left.
The Ice Dogs got one more goal in the second period when Logan Bennett scored to cut Alpena’s lead to 5-3, but Vladislav Khasanov stopped any threat of a comeback when he scored twice in the final four minutes of the middle frame to send Alpena to intermission with a 7-3 lead.
Earlier in the day, Alpena made some local news when it was announced the Street Cats had signed former Alpena High players Garret Bailey and Alex Guzman, who played for the Wildcats from 2009-12. Both played on Friday and while neither registered a point, Guzman was one of Alpena’s starting defensemen.
Myaskovskiy is happy to have both of them on the roster, noting that it will help the Street Cats not only on the ice, but also with developing the team’s fan base.
“For us it means much more than than just (getting) two great players,” he said. “It means we’re popular here, we deserve attention from local players and we’re happy they decided to play for us.”
Alpena hosts the Ice Dogs tonight at 7 p.m. and again on Sunday at 2 p.m.