Houghton exacts revenge on Calumet to reach final
HOUGHTON — After taking a tough loss on the chin last Tuesday night against the Calumet Copper Kings at Dee Stadium, the Houghton Gremlins were looking for a much better effort Wednesday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena. It started with the opening shift, and from there, the Gremlins were strong throughout the night, earning a 6-4 win over the Copper Kings and a date with the Hancock Bulldogs tonight at 8 p.m. in the championship of the MacInnes Holiday Classic.
Houghton head coach Corey Markham was happy with the way his team responded, especially given that they surrendered seven goals in the loss last Tuesday.
“We were ready,” said Markham. “We got embarrassed last week. That didn’t sit well with me, didn’t sit well with the team, so we got prepared for this game. We were going to be ready to compete.”
The Copper Kings knew there would be a pushback from Houghton, but coach Dan Giachino felt his team struggled with the speed of the Gremlins throughout the game.
“We got outworked, outhustled, outefforted,” said Giachino. “We got outclassed in all three zones.”
The Gremlins also found an unlikely hero in freshman Ty Halonen. The young defenseman scored twice in the game, including in the opening minutes of the third.
“Two huge goals for us to get a freshman defenseman getting thrown in from the point,” said Markham. “[This was] just a great feeling for him. Ty is an extremely smart player. Both those shots weren’t rockets, but they were in a good lane and managed to get through.”
Halonen did not finish the contest, however, as he took a huge hit from Calumet’s sophomore Brent Loukus shortly after, drawing a major penalty, and was sidelined for the remainder of the evening.
The Gremlins jumped all over Calumet from the drop of puck and it showed as Houghton captain Jacob Kruse drove through the Copper Kings defense and got a quick shot on goal that Nick Voelker had to stop.
The next time the Gremlins attacked, they found the net behind the junior netminder. Houghton sophomore Kevin Bostwick got the puck at the left point on the power play. His shot hit Voelker and kicked to his left. Assistant captain Dawson McKay crashed in and knocked the puck home at 2 minutes, 36 seconds.
The line of McKay, Kruse and junior Taavi Rajala was strong for the Gremlins throughout the night.
“They led the way [Wednesday], they really did,” said Markham. “They were a force. I thought they were the best line on the ice, for sure. They used speed, they made some nice passing plays. They led by example.”
Voelker held the Copper Kings within a goal when Houghton sophomore Brendan Erickson skated behind his goal. Erickson fed the puck out front just before getting behind the net. The pass slid right out to Kruse, whose quick shot hit the outstretched leg of Voelker.
The Copper Kings evened things up at 11:54 when senior Daylen Anderson knocked home a rebound off a shot from senior Trevor Johnson.
The Copper Kings went back on the power play shortly after the Anderson tally, but the Gremlins were the team to make use of the extra space on the ice. McKay and Kruse got loose and skated in on a 2-on-1. McKay fed the puck from right to left over to Kruse, whose quick shot beat Voelker cleanly at 13:17.
“We just got beat, plain and simple,” said Giachino. “I don’t know how else to [say it]. They just had way more effort than we did tonight.”
Looking to respond, the Copper Kings did just that 1:19 later when Loukus pounced on a rebound off a shot from captain Rory Anderson, and he buried it behind Stier at 14:36.
Just 34 seconds later, the Copper Kings struck a third time when sophomore Sam Erkkila tipped a shot from Anderson past Stier at 15:10.
Looking to add to their lead, Calumet did just that 4:31 into the middle frame when sophomore Rylan Anderson fired a shot off a faceoff to Stier’s right and beat him with it.
It appeared as though the Copper Kings were ready to run away with the contest at that point, but two minutes later, the Gremlins nearly found the back of the net when Erickson jumped on a rebound off a shot from junior Clayton Sayen. Fortunately, Voelker was there to make the save.
Houghton did cut into the lead a little under two minutes after that when senior Ronald Olson skated into the left circle and fired a shot. He followed that chance up by grabbing the rebound and beating Voelker at 8:18.
The Gremlins killed off a penalty shortly after and got back to pressing Calumet deep in their own end for multiple shifts before their hard work was rewarded with just 1:47 left when McKay’s initial shot off a pass from Kruse hit Voelker and then kicked out to the left point where Halonen was waiting. Halonen quickly released a wrist shot back through the congestion in front of Voelker, and the puck found the back of the net.
During the major power play, the Gremlins found the back of the net again when Rajala knocked a rebound home at 7:38 of the third. Rajala scored again in the final minute of play when he knocked a puck into the empty net.
Calumet 3 1 1 – 5
Houghton 2 2 3 – 7
1, HHS, Dawson McKay (Kevin Bostwick, Taavi Rajala), PP, 2:36
2, CHS, Daylen Anderson (Trevor Johnson), 11:54
3, HHS, Jacob Kruse (McKay), SH, 13:17
4, CHS, Brent Loukus (Rory Anderson), 14:36
5, CHS, Sam Erkkila (Daylen Anderson, Davin Lehto), 15:10
6, CHS, Rylan Anderson, 4:31
7, HHS, Ronald Olson, 8:18
8, HHS, Ty Halonen (McKay, Kruse), 15:13
9, HHS, Halonen (Casey Lentowich, Sam Raber), 1:58
10, HHS, Rajala (Justin Norkol), PP, 7:38
11, CHS, Johnson (Matthew Yeo, Rory Anderson), 14:35
12, HHS, Rajala, 16:03
CHS, Voelker 9 12 7 – 28
HHS, Stier 9 11 7 – 27
CHS: 7/25; HHS: 5/10
CHS: 0/5; HHS:1/7