Gutting it out
Calumet Wolverines win gritty affair in Game 1 of the Gibson Cup
HOUGHTON — Calumet held the upper hand most of the way in its Gibson Cup opener against Portage Lake Friday night and scored a 3-2 victory.
Wolverines coach Bruce “Cukie” Coppo said his team was able to control the tempo of the contest at historic Dee Stadium.
“It was a typical Calumet-Portage Lake game,” Coppo said afterward. “I thought we put a lot on pressure on them (Pioneers) and forced them to shoot from outside.”
Still, the Wolverines had to fend off a Pioneers rally in the final minute of play to secure its third win in four tries versus their old rivals this season.
Holding a 3-1 lead, the northend squad committed a turnover in its own end that was converted into a goal by Charlie Turner of PL with just 55 ticks remaining.
“That goal by Charlie Turner gave us some life,” Pioneers’ skipper Pat McCarthy said. “But we were battling uphill most of the game because we were missing some key players.”
This season’s leading scorers of Reid Pietila, Pete Rouleau, Aaron Sturos and Connor Hannon were among those missing last night.
Portage Lake has won the last six Gibson Cups and now will have to win tonight at the Calumet Colosseum to bring the series back to Dee on Tuesday.
“It’s something we’ve had to do in the past,” McCarthy noted. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow night.”
Alex VanWagner gave the Wolverines a 1-0 lead at 7:17 of the opening period when he flipped a shot over PL netminder Matt Turunen.
The Calumet lead moved to 2-0 in the second stanza when Eric Bausano tapped in a rebound shot.
Hunter Kero cut the lead in half not long after that, poking a shot past Calumet goalie Bryan Miller.
But Calumet took the air out of the Pioneers when Tyler Loukus tallied a marker with just seven seconds remaining in the middle period.
“That goal (by Loukus) was a big one,” Coppo said. “It gave us a little breathing room.”
After a scuffle midway through the third period that resulted in multiple penalties, both teams were unable to cash in scoring opportunities.
The stellar work of both goalies dominated action in the final stanza — until Turner’s late score.
“Both goalies played great tonight,” Coppo said. “They were tough in the clutch.”
Turunen came up with 39 stops, while Miller made 33 saves.
Coppo said his team is looking to end its drought in the long series.
“Hopefully, we can do it tomorrow night in Calumet,” he said.
This was the last regular season game for both teams, who enter league playoff action next weekend.
Calumet is 12-14 on the season, while Portage Lake is 13-12-1.
Calumet 1 2 0 – 3
P. Lake 0 1 1 – 2
CA — Alex VanWagner (Logan Frantti) 7:17
CA – Eric Bausano (VanWagner, Tyler Loukus) 10:11
PL – Hunter Kero (Charlie Turner) 3:39
CA – Loukus (Byron Parks) :13
PL – Turner (Matt Mantta) :55
Turunen (PL) 12 11 16 – 39
Miller (CA) 10 13 13 – 33
Penalties: P. Lake 8, Calumet 6.