No. 1 Hancock defeats Escanaba 8-2

Hancock's Trevor Tchida fights for the puck with Escanaba's Luke Labre (4) and Blaine Reinhart Thursday in Hancock. Hancock won 8-2. (Eden Laase/Daily Mining Gazette)

HANCOCK — For the Hancock Bulldogs (14-3), there is nothing better than clicking on the Michigan Division 3 State rankings and seeing that “No. 1” listed next to their name. Rankings can be fun, head coach Dan Rouleau said. It’s a pride thing, a source of motivation and numerical proof of a team’s hard work and talent.

But for an opposing team, the No. 1 ranking can be intimidating.

In addition to being No. 1 in Division 3, the Hancock Bulldogs are ranked sixth in the Super 10. And when Escanaba came to town on Thursday night, the visitors were well aware of the rankings, something that showed in Hancock’s 8-2 victory.

“I think guys were a little timid,” Escanaba coach Matt Hughes said. “When you look at the internet and they are No. 1 in Division 3 and ranked in the Super 10, so they are a really good hockey team. I think our guys played a little nervous, a little timid, played a little anxious with the puck.”

The nerves caused Escanaba to turn the puck over throughout the contest, and Hancock took full advantage. Leading the charge was Alex Nordstrom who recorded four goals in the game.

Nordstrom knew prior to the puck drop that his team would need him to be at his best. His senior scoring partner, Teddy Randell, was forced to sit out with a pinched nerve, so Nordstrom knew he would have to pick up the slack.

“He knows when his partner is out that he has got to pick up his game,” Rouleau said. “He puts the team on his shoulders, just like Teddy does sometimes, and they just dominate games.”

Against Escanaba, Nordstrom didn’t waste any time.

With 10 minutes gone by in the first period, Nordstrom scored Hancock’s first goal, giving the Bulldog’s a 1-0 lead that they carried into the first intermission.

Then, when Escanaba scored quickly in the second period, Nordstrom had the answer. Brayden Stannard made it 1-1 with 1:30 elapsed in the frame, but the Eskymos hardly had time to celebrate, as Nordstrom gave Hancock the lead once more just 30 seconds later.

“We kind of had a few bad turnovers and Nordstrom took advantage of those,” Hughes said. “He is an excellent player, and obviously one of the best guys out on the ice … We came out, we had a power-play goal, but then they came back, caught us on our heels and put one into our net, so it kind of took the wind out of our sails and that is when it started to fall apart.”

Hancock rattled off three more goals in the second period, another from Nordstrom, one from Carter Nettell and one from Petr Anderson. The scoring barrage continued in the third period when Trevor Tchida scored, Nettell scored his second, and Nordstrom added a fourth goal to his hat trick.

“[Nordstrom] is very good at controlling the puck and he likes to have the puck on his stick,” Rouleau said. “He likes to score the goal, but he also likes to set up the goal too. He wants the puck the whole time he is on the ice.”

Escanaba also got another goal in the third, with Stannard netting his second.

For Hancock, Nordstrom took care of the scoring, but the Bulldogs’ defense is what really impressed Rouleau.

Hancock only allowed 15 shots on goal, with all 15 coming in the second and third periods.

“Giving up no shots in the first period was pretty huge,” Rouleau said. “We have been trying to hone our defensive game lately, and we gave up zero shots in the first and just five in the second, so that was a good part of our game tonight.”

Hancock has been devoting extra time in practice to defense, and it paid off against Escanaba. But Rouleau said he would like to see that kind of play translate to matchups with other opponents, specifically Hancock’s Copper Country rivals.

“If we can do that against somebody like Calumet or Houghton, then we will know our defense is coming along,” he said.

Before Hancock can try its new and improved defense against either of those teams, the Bulldogs will hit the road for another game against Escanaba on Saturday at 1 p.m.

– – –

Escanaba 0 1 1 — 2

Hancock 1 4 3 — 8

First period

Hancock — Alex Nordstrom, 10:02, 1-0.

Second period

Escanaba — Brayden Stannard (Grant Wickham, Chris Sliva), 1:30, 1-1.

Hancock — Nordstrom, 2:04, 2-1.

Hancock — Carter Nettell (Colton Salani, Bryce Randell), 6:24, 3-1.

Hancock — Nordstrom (Austin Salani, Jakob Vettori), 14:19, 4-1.

Hancock — Petr Anderson (Nordstrom, Tyler Brunet), 15:17, 5-1.

Third period

Hancock — Nettell (Tyler Turcotte, Vettori), 8:09, 6-1.

Hancock — Nordstrom (Austin Salani, Teddy Perrault), 9:49, 7-1.

Hancock — Bradley Randell (Travis Pietila, Turcotte), 12:07, 8-1.

Escanaba — Stannard, 16:38, 8-2.

Saves

Escanaba: Trevor Denome 26; Hancock: Dawson Kero 13.

Penalites

Escanaba: 2/4; Hancock: 4/8.

Power plays

Escanaba: 1/4; Hancock: 0

COMMENTS