Stealing a win: Pioneers take Gibson Cup opener with 5-4 OT win at Colosseum

David Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette Portage Lake goaltender Phil Mattila makes a save during the opening game of the Gibson Cup series Friday at the Calumet Colosseum. The Pioneers defeated the Wolverines, 5-4, in overtime.

CALUMET — To say that the site of “Hockeyville USA” lived up to its new nickname Friday night in the opening game of the annual Gibson Cup series would be an understatement. The Calumet Wolverines found themselves battling back more often than not, and eventually, they succumbed at home to the Portage Lake Pioneers in overtime, 5-4.

“We won the little battles,” said Portage Lake Pioneers player-coach Cody Sivonen, who scored twice in the contest. “We didn’t run around in the defensive zone as much and we capitalized on our chances.”

Sivonen was quick to praise his goaltender, Phil Mattila, who, despite surrendering four goals, made 35 saves, many from point blank range, throughout the night. He kept the Calumet Colosseum crowd from giving the Wolverines much in the way of momentum for much of the night.

“(It was) unreal,” Sivonen said. “Phil (Mattila) played lights out (and) made some unbelievable saves, probably if he didn’t make those saves we would not have been in the game at all.”

Hancock native Bryan Lepisto scored the game-winning goal 3:34 into the extra session.

“Riley McKay made a big play in the defensive zone (and) tipped it off the glass,” said Sivonen. “(Then) Bryan Lepisto went down (and took an) unbelievable shot. We’ve got to do the same level things: keep the pucks out, shut down the zone coverage and shut down Rory (Anderson) and Logan (Rastello)’s line.”

McKay’s clear found its way to center Nick Harris, who skated the puck down the left side of the ice before finding Lepisto for the tally.

The Wolverines controlled play for much of the opening minutes of the game, but while they could not solve Mattila, the Pioneers took advantage of their first shot on Calumet goaltender Ryan Patrick.

Aaron Sturos drove down the right boards and beat Patrick cleanly just 2:29 into the contest. The goal seemed to stun the Wolverines for awhile.

“Scoring goals (was difficult),” said Wolverines coach Bruce Coppo. “We had a lot of rebounds (and) a lot of shots that missed the net.

“It’s just (that) a lot of bounces didn’t go our way tonight, but it was a hard fought hockey game. We always say it’s the Stanley Cup of the Copper Country. You get the bragging rights for the summer and this year with Hockeyville, it would sure be good to keep the cup here. We’ve got our work cut out for us now.”

Once Calumet collected itself, the push to even the game was on. The Wolverines kept the pressure on, outshooting the Pioneers 7-1 before Brendan Jacques found himself wide open in the slot in front of Mattila. Jacques positioned his stick in a perfect spot for defenseman Stephen Dudenas to hit with a shot from the right point. Jacques tipped the shot past Mattila at 8:12.

Things remained that way until the midpoint of the second period, when the Pioneers were awarded a power play. However, they were not the team to take advantage.

After narrowly missing on a previous 2-on-1 with captain Jeff Erikkila, Wolverines assistant captain Eric Bausano stole a pass near the Pioneers’ blue line and skated it in, deking to his backhand to beat Mattila shorthanded at 11:29.

If the period ended that way, the Wolverines would have been in perfect position to win, but instead, the Pioneers struck twice in 22 seconds to put Calumet on the defensive going into the third.

Sivonen scored the first from the right circle with a well-placed wrist shot at 14:33. Sturos potted his second at 14:55 when he knocked a rebound home. Matt Mantta picked up the primary assist on both tallies.

Dudenas wasted little time in the third period, evening things up with shot from the left point at 2:11. Maxx Fredrickson and Josh Larson both assisted on the goal.

Looking to regain the lead, the Pioneers found themselves with a golden opportunity thanks to a power play. During the advantage, Charlie Turner found Sivonen, who struck for the second time in the contest at 6:29.

The Pioneers held the lead until late in the third when Tyler Loukus found the net at 15:34, evening things at 4-4. Trevor Johnson and Logan Rastello assisted on the goal.

“Tomorrow night, we (need to be) better with the backchecking,” said Coppo. “They got too many men loose on us (with) odd-man rushes. We’ve got to cut down on those.

“I thought we were a little bit lazy at times tonight. I can’t use the excuse that we’re tired from the long playoffs last weekend, so we’ve just got to have better jump in our skates tomorrow.”

GAME TWO SATURDAY

Game Two will take place Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at Dee Stadium in Houghton.

Scoring

Portage Lake  1 2 1 1 – 5

Calumet  1 1 2 0 – 4

First period

1, PL, Aaron Sturos (Charlie Turner, Cody Sivonen), 2:49

2, CAL, Brendan Jacques (Stephen Dudenas, Rory Anderson) 8:12

Second period

3, CAL, Eric Bausano, SH, 11:59

4, PL, Sivonen (Matt Mantta), 14:33

5, PL, Sturos (Mantta), 14:55

Third period

6, CAL, Dudenas (Maxx Fredrickson, Josh Larson), 2:11

7, PL, Sivonen (Turner), PP, 6:29

8, CAL, Tyler Lokus (Trevor Johnson, Logan Rastello), 15:34

Overtime

9, PL, Bryan Lepisto (Nick Harris), 3:34

Saves

PL, Mattila 14 8 12 1 – 35

CAL, Patrick 7 11 16 3 – 27

Power plays

PL: 1/3; CAL: 0/2

Penalties

PL: 2/4; CAL: 3/14

COMMENTS