HANCOCK - The Traverse City Central hockey team brought a roster with 11 seniors to the Houghton County Arena Friday for the first leg of the Rick Memorial. The Hancock Bulldogs have one senior, Dylan Hanke, suited up on a nightly basis.
Coincidentally, the Trojans won the majority of the 50-50 battles for loose pucks and were able to cash in on a quartet of rebound man-advantage goals to pull out a 5-3 victory.
"Penalty kill let us down to a point," Hancock coach Dan Rouleau said. "With four power play goals you look at that stat and you say your penalty kill let you down. But if you look at the type of goals it's not like they worked the puck around and made beautiful plays. They just got pucks to the net and got good tips and everything. ... I don't think it was a lot of breakdowns on our part.
Hancock goaltender William Lucier makes a save in the first period of Friday’s Rick Miller Memorial game against Traverse City Central as his teammates look on. The Bulldogs fell 5-3. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
"I'm not totally disppointed with the penalty kill but obviously when you give up four goals you are a little disappointed."
"One senior compared to 11 seniors, that does make a little bit of a difference," Rouleau added.
TCC took a quick lead less than two minutes into the contest - its only even-strength score of the night - when senior Cooper Macdonell punched in a rebound from freshman Jon Russell's shot.
TC Central 2 2 1 - 5
Hancock 0 2 1 - 3
First period - 1, TCC, Cooper Macdonell (Jon Russell), 1:41; 2, TCC, Alex Oliver (Brady Brantley, Rhys Adle), 9:22.
Second period - 3, HAN, Dylan Hanke (Alex Hill), 10:31; 4, HAN, Kyle Hauswirth (Brett Lepisto), 11:43; 5, TCC, Russell (Macdonell), 13:04; 6, Macdonell (Brantley, Russell), 16:45.
Third period - 7, TCC, Russell (Nico Saco), 1:11; 8, HAN, Wade Hanke (Lepisto), 2:28.
Penalties - TCC, 6-12; HAN, 5-10.
Behind the eight-ball, Hancock gave up its first special teams goal of the night seven minutes later when big-bodied forward Alex Oliver tipped a shot from senior Brady Brantley at the point.
While the Trojans may have done nothing particularly special on the power play, they were able to consistently get shots to the net, resulting in 36 shots against Hancock goaltender William Lucier to 22 for Hancock.
"We have to get in a lane quicker, get that stick out there, do something to stop that puck from going to the net," Rouleau said. "They got the shots and they got the tips because we weren't tying up sticks in front of the net."
The Bulldogs turned the game back around though, with two goals in 73 seconds midway through the second period.
Hanke pulled Hancock within one when he won a 50-50 battle deep in the Trojan zone and beat senior goaltender Michael Wittersheim with a quick shot.
Hancock defenseman Kyle Hauswirth then evened the contest with a one-timed tally from the circle after a beautfiul pass from Brett Lepisto.
"Five-on-five I thought we were just as good," Rouleau said. "That is a nice hockey team over there but I think we stuck with them for the most part."
Unfortunately for the hosts, a pair of slashing penalties quickly after Hauswirth's goal helped Central to a two-goal lead right before the second period ended.
"We had so much momentum going there," Rouleau said. "The guys were pumped. We have only been scoring two goals a game and to get two quick ones it gave that whole bench a lot of jump. Then to take the penalties and let that get back to a two-goal lead I think really killed us. ... Once you get momentum you have to try and hold momentum as much as possible and go on that run."
Hancock had its chances in the third period to tie it back up, drawing four penalties from the Trojans for three man-advantage situations.
A disjointed power play could never get going, however and Wade Hanke's goal early in the final frame wasn't enough to swing the outcome.
"It was one of them cases of not getting the puck to the net," Rouleau said. "We were making the stupid pass, just not making the play we should on the power play."