Just out of reach
Alpena came so close to the Blue Line Tournament championship on Saturday, but just couldn’t drop the puck into the back of the net enough to overcome a 2-1 loss against Saginaw Tri-Valley.
“They should have been all super charged ready to go for a championship in a tournament. They fought a hard battle last night and to keep that energy up, I don’t know what the secret it,” Alpena coach Pete Doubek said.
The Titans beat Shrine Unified 3-2 in a Friday matchup that lasted four overtime periods to make it to the championship game. Anchor Bay beat 6-5 in Saturday’s consolation game.
The first period saw tight defensive play from both teams. Alpena ran into a string of penalties early in the period, earning back-to-back penalties two minutes into the game.
The Wildcats picked up a total of eight minutes of penalty time in the first period compared to the Titans’ four minutes.
Both teams threw a lot of shots at the net in the opening frame, but Wildcats’ goalie Jesse Boilore and Titans’ goalie Aidan Curry were flawless.
Boilore picked up his second MVP award in the second game after stopping 32 shots. Curry stopped 34.
“It was pretty cool to pick up the MVP, but it’s terrible that we lost in the championship game. I wish we really came out with the W but we tried our hardest and we’ll try to get it next year,” Boilore said.
Six minutes passed in the second period before the Titans picked up their first goal. It was a power-play goal scored by Greyson Curry off assists by Chas Bruske and Hunter Zanavich.
Curry was named MVP for Tri-Valley due to his goal and overall offensive effectiveness throughout the game.
Alpena had several chances late in the second period to pick up rebound shots, including a pair of back-to-back shots at the halfway point that would have tied the game up and potentially shifted momentum.
“This team is pretty infamous for (slow starts). If we pick up goals early, the energy level stays high and we do well. But, if we’re shut down, the energy level is just lacking,” Doubek said.
However, the Wildcats were unable to score and took just two penalties in the middle frame.
“I think holding back on the penalties would have changed the game tremendously,” Boilore said.
Tri-Valley wasted no time in the third, when Zanavich picked up an unassisted short handed goal two minutes in to take a 2-0 lead. The Titans had outshot the Wildcats 32-24 by this point.
Alpena’s offense started to pick up steam over the next five minutes, setting up several great scoring chances that just didn’t pan out.
The Wildcats finally got on the board seven minutes in when Chris Modrzynski snagged a pass from Jared Plume and snuck it around Curry on the right side to cut Saginaw’s lead in half.
Alpena’s offense started striking hard at the Titans, hoping to force a tie and overtime. Several excellent opportunities were stalled with 2:34 left in the period when Alpena picked up a penalty and played short handed for nearly the rest of the period.
The Wildcats outshot the Titans 12-5 in the third period, but couldn’t force another goal as time ran out.
“Its tough, and there’s no excuses, but you guys out of the rotation that are normally in the rotation. That’s not an excuse though. We could have come out with a lot more energy,” Doubek said.
Alpena doesn’t play again until Jan. 8 when it hosts Traverse City St. Francis in a makeup game.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.