Yellowjackets top Lions, 8-1

Denia Bent/For the Gazette Finlandia’s Kendall Bolen-Porter controls the puck during a game against Wisconsin-Superior Saturday at the Houghton County Arena.

HANCOCK — With several of the players’ parents in attendance, and after a rough outing on Friday in a 4-1 loss to Wisconsin-River Falls, the Finlandia Lions men’s hockey team was looking for a better start Saturday. For just shy of 15 minutes, it appeared that they were going to have it.

Then everything changed on a turnover during an odd-man rush.

The Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjackets took advantage of that turnover and went the other way on a breakaway on the power play and scored. From there, they struck seven more times in an 8-1 drubbing of the Lions.

Head coach Joe Burcar blamed himself, rather than his players, for their lack of consistent play throughout the contest.

“We definitely have to go back to the drawing board,” said Burcar. “It starts with me. I didn’t get the job done this weekend. I have to be better as a coach and we have to be better prepared.

“We just didn’t play up to what we are capable of. The stuff that we don’t do happened all weekend.”

The Lions drew a 5-on-3 advantage for 27 seconds less than four minutes into the contest and peppered Yellowjackets (2-5-1 overall) goaltender A.J. Smith. The best chance came off a pass from freshman winger Russell Daavettila. Daavettila backhanded a pass out to the top of the crease where freshman center Vinny Mastrandrea one-timed a shot on goal.

The teams played relatively evenly from there until the Lions took a late-period penalty. During the kill, sophomore forwards Hunter Kero and Cale Markham exploded up the ice. Skating in 2-on-1, Kero attempted to feed a backhand pass to Markham. The puck ended up in Markham’s feet.

A Lions’ defender jumped up to try to help, and was caught out of position as the Yellowjackets’ Andrew Durham was quickly fed going the other way. Alone from the red line in, Durham found the back of the net at 15:06, beating freshman Santeri Seppinen, who was making his first career start for the Lions (2-4-1 overall) in goal.

“We made a mistake,” said Burcar. “We had a 3-on-1 shorthanded break. The last guy, that should have stayed back, decided to rush in and we literally gave them a breakaway from the red line in. It was a mental breakdown that this team cannot, at times, handle.

“It just seemed to snowball from there.”

On back-to-back power plays in the second period, the Yellowjackets’ Troy York parked himself in the right circle and he beat Seppinen with almost the same shot at 9:32 and 13:49.

In between those two power play goals, senior center Bryce Mitzel put the Lions on the board with a tip of a shot from senior winger Blake Peavey at 12:35.

Seppinen’s night came to an end at the 15:14 mark of the middle frame when Yellowjackets defenseman Ryan Carlson took advantage of a turnover just outside the Lions’ blue line, skated into the offensive zone and blasted a slap shot that beat the Finnish native cleanly.

Sophomore Marcus Gloss replaced Seppinen and almost two minutes later, he surrendered a goal on a rebound to Troy MacTavish.

The Yellowjackets then struck three more times in the third period with two goals 1:19 apart from Coltyn Bates and Chad Lopez and then one more from Daniel Litchke at 12:43.

The Lions do not have long to process the loss. They will have a short week of practice this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday and then will host Wisconsin-Eau Claire for a two-game non-conference series on Friday and Saturday.

Scoring

UWS 1 4 3 – 8

FU 0 1 0 – 1

First period

1, UWS, Andrew Durham (Chad Lopez, Jordan Martin), PP, 15:06

Second period

2, UWS, Troy York (Daniel Litchke, Artur Terchiyev), PP, 9:32

3, FU, Bryce Mitzel (Blake Peavey, Collin Gamrat), 12:35

4, UWS, York (Terchiyev), PP, 13:49

5, UWS, Ryan Carlson (David Kaplan), 15:14

6, UWS, Troy MacTavish (York, Lopez), 16:59

Third period

7, UWS, Coltyn Bates (Alec MacKenzie, Carlson), 6:16

8, UWS, Lopez (Martin, Durham), 7:35

9, UWS, Litchke (MacTavish), PP, 12:43

Saves

UWS, Smith 6 3 7 – 16

FU, Seppinen 6 5 0 – 11

Gloss 0 3 9 – 12

Power plays

UWS: 4/7; FU: 0/5

Penalties

UWS: 5/10; FU: 8/30

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