Hancock pulls away to beat TCC

Daver Karnosky/Daily Mining Gazette Hancock's Alex Nordstrom controls the puck out at center ice near Traverse City Central's Evan McCombs during the first period of a game at Houghton County Arena Saturday.

HANCOCK A high school hockey game can change quickly.

With the Hancock Bulldogs and Traverse City Central Trojans tied 1-1 in the second period, the Bulldogs struck four times in a matter of 4 minutes, 9 seconds to earn a 7-2 win Saturday at the Houghton County Arena.

Much of that offense was created by Hancock’s “Black” line of assistant captain Teddy Randell, sophomore Alex Nordstrom, and senior Lance Kangas, who combined for four goals and nine points.

“There is a lot of high-end talent between those three kids and the chemistry they have,” said Bulldogs coach Dan Rouleau. “All three of them know how to pass, and all three of them know how to finish. They are fun to watch.”

Kangas netted two goals, including the Bulldogs’ first goal which evened the game at 8:57 of the second period and set off the opening of the floodgates shortly after. While he is still getting used to his new linemates, Kangas is enjoying the experience.

“Playing with skilled players like that makes it a lot easier to score,” said Kangas. “They are just unbelievable passers and great people to play with.”

For the Trojans, playing two games in less than 18 hours did not appear to be difficult for much of the first half of the game. But after a goal by Nordstrom at 11:33 of the middle frame, the Trojans struggled to get back to the type of game that made them successful prior to the goal.

“We had good energy in the first period,” said Trojans coach Chris Givens. “We blocked a lot of shots. In the second, they turned it up a notch.”

Nordstrom’s first goal of the game came after Randell, a junior, waited until the last moment before feeding him in the slot for a quick shot that beat Trojans’ goaltender Jacob Tolfree.

Kangas, who had evened the game exactly five minutes earlier, gave the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead shortly after Nordstrom won a faceoff to Tolfree’s left. Nordstrom got the puck over to Kangas, who buried a quick shot at 13:57.

With the Bulldogs serving a penalty shortly after the third goal, the Trojans continued to reel rather than take advantage of the extra skater, allowing Hancock to dictate the kill and eventually add two quick shorthanded goals.

The first came off a tremendous individual effort by freshman Colton Salani, who beat a Trojans’ defender down the left boards, then cut to the net and beat Tolfree over the shoulder at 15:23.

Nordstrom added his second of the night just 19 seconds later off a pass from Randell and capping the five-goal second period.

“We just weren’t able to match their skill down low,” said Givens. “Those kids are so skilled… They make plays. They are unselfish, just getting the puck to the open guy. They do a lot of the things well that we talk about every day.”

Hancock’s top line opened the game strong and continued to pressure the Trojans’ defense on their second shift as Randell drove to the bottom of the left circle before feeding the puck out into the slot where Kangas could jump on it and fire quickly towards the net. While the puck did cross the goalline on the play, the goal was waved off due to the net having been knocked off its moorings.

On their next shift, Nordstrom controlled the puck in the right circle in the Trojans’ zone. With just a quick look, Nordstrom made a behind-the-back pass across the slot to Kangas on on the left side, whose quick shot was stopped by Tolfree.

The trio continued to play strong throughout the rest of the game.

Traverse City’s Noah Kendra crashed the net with about 3:18 left in the opening period. One of his linemates attempted to feed the puck out to him, and it hit him and nearly found its way past Hancock goaltender Cam Murray, who finished the game with 17 saves.

Murray was tested again in the early stages of the second period as he came up with a key glove save off a shot from Jack Olson from the right circle just under four minutes in.

The Trojans continued to build on what was working for them and it led to a goal at 5:39 when Will Beattie carried the puck to the bottom of the left circle before feeding out to the blue line where captain Travis Blackhurst fired a low shot that snuck through Murray’s legs and in.

Looking to respond, the Bulldogs got the puck deep into the Trojans’ end. Salani carried the puck across the slot and fed it to junior Jacob Vettori at the right point. Vettori fired a shot that Tolfree stopped and it rebounded out front, but neither senior Brody Budweg or senior Devyn LaCourt could bury it.

LaCourt did bury one just 2:44 into the third when he drove to the net from the bottom of the left circle and beat Tolfree with a quick shot over his shoulder, ending Tolfree’s night.

Hancock junior Carter Nettell capped the scoring for the home team with a rebound he knocked in on the power play at 8:29.

Up next, Hancock hosts Escanaba on Saturday, who lost to Houghton.

Scoring

Traverse City  0  1  1 – 2

Hancock  0  5  2 – 7

First period

None

Second period

1, TCC, Travis Blackhurst (Will Beattie), 5:39

2, HCH, Lance Kangas (Teddy Randell, Alex Nordstrom), 8:57

3, HCH, Nordstrom (Randell), 11:33

4, HCH, Kangas (Nordstrom, Randell), 13:57

5, HCH, Colton Salani (Devyn LaCourt), SH, 15:23

6, HCH, Nordstrom (Randell), SH, 15:42

Third period

7, HCH, LaCourt (Tyler Brunet, Brody Budweg), 2:44

8, HCH, Carter Nettell (Bryan Lepisto), PP, 8:29

9, TCC, Scott Klavon (Kyle Knowles, Beattie), PP, 13:38

Saves

TCC, Tolfree  12  13  0 – 25

Torres  0  0  10 – 10

HCH, Murray  6  8  3 – 17

Penalties

TCC: 3/6, HCH: 8/24

Power plays

TCC: 1/6, HCH: 1/2

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