Gibson Cup Champs: Calumet retains trophy with 6-5 victory over Pioneers

David Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette Members of the Calumet Wolverines pose with the Gibson Cup after winning the third game of the best-of-three series over the Portage Lake Pioneers, 6-5. Sunday at the Calumet Colosseum.

CALUMET — If there is one common sentiment shared among players, coaches and fans associated with the Gibson Cup, it is that the best-of-three series could go to either team regardless of what happened in the regular season. That certainly was the case in this year’s rivalry as the Cup came down to the final minute of Game Three, which the Calumet Wolverines held on to win, 6-5, at the Calumet Colosseum.

The Wolverines pulled ahead, 6-4, with three minutes left in the game. While a two-goal lead should be enough normally, this series is never normal, and with less than a minute left, Portage Lake Pioneers defenseman Tristan Foltz grabbed a loose puck in front of the crease and pushed it into the back of the net, pulling his team back within one with 44 seconds left in regulation.

“They were coming at me in waves there at the end,” said Calumet goalie Ryan Patrick, who took the loss in overtime in Game One, “but our guys were able to keep the shots off to the outside, and we were able to clear the puck and hold onto the victory.”

With the win, the Wolverines will keep the Gibson Cup at the Calumet Colosseum for the second year in a row, after nine years of it being in Pioneers’ hands.

This was Patrick’s 14th year playing for the cup, and with that he has seen a lot of losses. Before last year’s win and this year’s victory, the Gibson Cup had called Dee Stadium home since 2009.

“It means a lot there is so much history involved in it,” he said. “To hoist it up now after a second year really means a lot.”

It was a back-and-forth battle from the opening puck drop. The Wolverines got on the score board first when Jim Brey of lifted one past Portage Lake goalie Phil Mattila in front of the net just three and a half minutes into the game.

The score remained 1-0 until the 14:58 mark when Calumet’s Austin Riipi took a pass from Rory Anderson and fired a slap shot from the top of the left circle and past Mattila’s stick hand.

The Pioneers certainly had their chances, but the Wolverines played a tough defense keeping the Pioneers’ shots to the perimeter and not allowing a lot of offense take shape in the slot or crease.

“I think our defense played a solid night,” said Wolverines captain Jeff Erkkila. “They were able to clear the puck and keep it out of our zone.

And when we did have an opportunity to capitalize, we did and that really worked to our advantage when we can score some goals.”

Down 2-0, Portage came out to second period with a little quicker pace. They got on the scoreboard less than four minutes in when Aaron Sturos poked a loose puck in front of the crease past Patrick.

From there, the game was an up-and-down-the-ice affair for a good ten minutes as both teams tried to put some offense together. Portage seem to have the upper hand as they wore down the Wolverines.

Portage’s Cody Sivonen tied the game at 2-2 12 minutes later when he found the back of the net with a wrist shot.

However a minute later, the Wolverines’ Anderson grabbed a loose puck at center ice and carried it in past the blue line. He deked a Pioneers’ defenseman in the left circle and fired one past the mitt of Mattila to make the score 3-2 after two.

Less than a minute into the third, the Pioneers tied it at three. Sturos got his second of the night when he and fellow forward Charlie Turner crashed the net and he put one in.

The tie did not last, however, as the Wolverines were right back on top at the 1:41 mark when assistant captain Eric Bausano fired one off at the top of the crease, which found the back of the net to make it 4-3.

A minute later, the Pioneers tied it again with a goal from Turner. The puck came to him from behind the net from Riipi and he connected on it in the crease and put it past Patrick.

The score remained tied at four for nearly nine minutes. The Pioneers had a power-play opportunity during that stretch, but could not make anything of it as Calumet’s defense held strong.

Assistant captain Logan Rostello scored the go-ahead goal in for the Wolverines at the 11:59 mark when he fired a shot from the left circle past the mitt side of Mattila. Brey potted his second one of the night with 3:23 remaining to put the hosts up by two, 6-4.

Despite the last-minute goal by Portage, it was not enough as they could not pull the trigger again.

“It was a lot closer than we wanted it to be,” said Rostello after the game. This was his 11th season the Calumet native has played for the Cup.

“This series comes down to whoever wants it more, and we jumped on them when we could and came out on top.”

Despite the loss, Portage player-coach Sivonen conceded it was a good battle, as he said it is every year.

“Both teams played well and they got the best of us,” he said. “It will be our turn next year.”

Scoring

Portage Lake 0 2 3 – 5

Calumet 2 1 3 – 6

First Period

1, CAL, Jim Brey (Rory Anderson), 3:33

2, CAL, Austin Riipi (Anderson, Logan Rostello), 14:58

Second Period

3, PL, Aaron Sturos (Trevor Ploe), 3:50

4, PL, Cody Sivonen, 16:10

5, CAL, Anderson, 17:12

Third Period

6, PL, Sturos (Charlie Turner, Riley McKay), :57

7, CAL, Eric Bausano (Jeff Erkkila, Mike Babcock), 1:41

8, PL, Turner (Sturos), 2:51

9, CAL, Rostello (Brendan Jacques, Josh Harju), 11:59

10, CAL, Brey (Bausano, Erkkila), 3:23

11, PL, Tristan Foltz (McKay) 19:16

Saves

PL, Mattila 25

CAL, Patrick 25

Penalties

PL: 1/10; CAL: 4/8

Power plays

PL: 0/4: CAL: 0/0

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