Calumet loses offensive shootout to Cranbrook

Calmet’s Sam Erkkila prepares to shoot against Cranbrook’s David Blasky, Saturday at the Colosseum. (Bryce Derouin/Daily Mining Gazette)

CALUMET — Cranbrook and Calumet are two teams on opposite ends of the experience spectrum. The Cranbrook Cranes have a roster bursting with juniors and seniors, while the Copper Kings have only three seniors. So when they took on the Cranes in a two-game series this weekend at the Calumet Colosseum, coach Dan Giachino knew it would be a tough test for his young team. 

After Friday’s overtime loss, the Copper Kings (0-4) looked to bounce back on Saturday, but they were defeated in another heartbreaker, this time 6-5. 

“From last week until now we have come a long way in many different ways,” he said. “We are heading in the right direction, but we need to find the success right now, that is what we need. To string together a few wins right now would be huge for our confidence level and our psyche right now.”

Calumet didn’t get a win, but they did get an offensive showdown, as both teams came out shooting. By the time the first period closed, Cranbrook held a 4-3 lead over Calumet.

“That is not normal,” Cranbrook coach Andy Weidenbach said. “Especially for us, we are not a high-scoring team, so typically we are going to score three goals a game. So to have a game with seven goals in a period is crazy. That was very surprising. I wasn’t expecting to see a 4-3 first period, maybe a 4-3 final instead.”

Calumet scored first after Cranbrook was whistled for tripping. The Copper Kings took their time, and set things up in front of Cranbrook’s net, eventually scoring when Brent Loukus fielded a deflection off the Cranes goalie, and put it in. 

But Calumet’s one-goal lead wasn’t comfortable, and it certainly didn’t last. Moments later, the Cranes took a 2-1 lead after scoring back-to-back goals in a 15-second span. The first came from Case Kantgias and the second from MacLean Brice. 

Calumet evened it up again at 7:15 on another power play. This time, Sam Erkkila was the recipient of a deflection that he converted into a goal. 

By the time the period ended, Calumet added a goal from freshman Tanner Rowe, and Cranbrook scored two more thanks to Hugh Lambert. All of Calumet’s goals came on deflections. 

“We have to just get to the net and go hard,” Giachino said. “We try to get into that area because that is where you have to go to score. We don’t have guys that are going to beat a team from far out on this team, just from a size and strength perspective, so we have got to get into that area and get deflections and rebounds.”

The second period saw a shift from the high-scoring first. They still attacked on offense, but both teams settled in and began to apply better pressure on defense. And Calumet made Cranbrook work for its offense. 

With 4:33 left, Cranbrook got the best look of the period, sneaking into an open space in front of the net. But Nick Voelker grabbed the puck out of the air, making one of his 18 saves for the game. 

Then, Calumet tied the contest at 4 when Dean Loukus lined up a long shot and fired it past the Cranbrook line of defense.

“I thought Calumet had a lot of energy tonight,” Weidenbach said. “They jumped all over us and kept us bottled up in our end in the second period a couple of times, almost for the entire shift, so they had a lot of momentum.”

Momentum swung back to Cranbrook with a few minutes gone in the third as Case Kantgias scored, making it 5-4. But it didn’t take long for Calumet to tie it once more. 

With 10:55 left to play, Loukus skated behind the net and fired a quick pass to Rowe, who positioned himself between the Cranbrook defenders to score his second goal of the game. 

Calumet held off the Cranbrook attack for the next eight minutes, but eventually Lambert scored his third of the game and gave the Cranes another victory. 

But, as Calumet goes through the growing process, Rowe — a freshman —  has emerged as a bright spot.

“He is one of those young guys that is getting better each game and it showed tonight,” Giachino said. “He is figuring things out and figuring out what his role is and what he needs to do out there.”

The Copper Kings have started their season with four losses (two against Hancock and two against Cranbrook), but Giachino remains positive that the tough opponents will make them better. Calumet has a chance to pick up its first win on Tuesday against Marquette at 7 p.m. at the Colosseum.

“I think right now the guys realize that we are getting better, and they realize we are closing the gap,” he said. “Hancock and Cranbrook are two really high-end teams this year, and I think we realized we can play with both of them. Now it is just a matter of cleaning up some things and making them easier on ourselves. We can compete, and it is a long season.”

– – –

Cranbrook 4 0 2 – 6

Calumet 3 1 1 – 5

First period

Calumet – Brent Loukus (Tanner Rowe), 4:04, 1-0.

Cranbrook – Case Kantgias (Connor McGrath), 4:25, 1-1.

Cranbrook – MacLean Brice (Zach Felsenfeld, Justin Song), 4:38, 2-1.

Calumet – Sam Erkkila (T. Rowe, B. Loukus), 10:17, 2-2.

Cranbrook – Hugh Lambert (Kantgias), 13:23, 3-2.

Cranbrook – Lambert (Kantgias), 16:05, 4-2.

Calumet – T. Rowe (Erkkila, B. Loukus), 16:36, 4-3.

Second period

Calumet – Dean Loukus (Davin Lehto, Hunter Rowe), 15:32, 4-4.

Third period

Cranbrook- Kantgias (McGrath), 3:07, 5-4.

Calumet- T. Rowe (B. Loukus), 6:05, 5-5.

Cranbrook – Lambert, 13:57, 6-6.

Saves

Cranbrook: Drake Bradshaw  9, David Blasky 10.

Calumet: Nick Voelker 18.

Penalties

Cranbrook: 3/6; Calumet: 1/2.

Power plays

Cranbrook: 0/1; Calumet: 2/3.

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