HANCOCK - The Finlandia men's hockey team played one awesome period Friday night at the Houghton County Arena, followed by two blah periods on their way to an 8-1 blowout against Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association opponent Northland College that left coach John McCabe luke-warm post-game.
After a five-goal first period with 18 shots on net, Finlanida ranged from sloppy to opportunistic in the final 40 minutes, adding three more goals despite getting outshot 17 to 13 and taking seven penalties.
"There is a tendency to start cheating in games like that," McCabe said. "Once you get up by so many, guys start looking for more but you have to play the game the same way whether it is 0-0 or 2-0 or whatever it is. You have to play the game the same way and that is what we have to clean up.
Daily Mining Gazette/Michael Bleach
Finlandia forward Collin Saint-Onge prepares to shoot Friday night in the third period against Northland College. Saint-Onge scored two goals in the 8-1 victory, pushing his team-high total to five.
"We still have a lot to work on. We will take it, its two points. But it was an ugly hockey game."
The Lions (3-3, 3-2 MCHA) skated out blazing, with forwards Cody Essel and Derek Rodgers pouncing on two rebound mistakes in the opening three minutes when Lumberjacks (0-5, 0-5 MCHA) goaltender Jesse DiLillo failed to clear relatively easy shots on his net.
FU captain Cameron Goude then backhanded his first score of the season just four minutes into the contest after a centering pass from Sean Burke and DiLillo's night was done after 3:59 of ice time.
Northland 0 1 0 - 1
Finlandia 5 2 1 - 8
First period - 1, FU, Cody Essel 2 (Kevin Smith), 2:28; 2, FU, Derek Rodgers 1 (Cameron Goude, Essel), 2:44; 3, FU, Goude (Sean Burke, Essel) 3:59; 4, FU Collin Saint-Onge 4 (Burke), 15:23; 5, FU, Smith PP, 16:52. ... Penalties - NOR, Colin Moberly (Indirect Elbowing), 16:26; FU, Cole Workman (Hooking), 17:50; FU, Saint-Onge (High Sticking), 19:07.
Second period - 6, FU, Burke 2 (Justin Scott), 2:18; 7, NOR, Moberly (Kraig Wright, Mike Mikulan), 6:43; 8, FU, Scott, 16:45. ... Penalties - FU, Ryan Bradley (Boarding), 5:15; FU, Andrew Huckleby (Kneeing), 11:11; NOR, Brandon Fehd (Interference), 12:53; NOR, Ryan Palm (Holding), 19:22.
Third period - 9, FU, Saint-Onge (Bradley), 10:52. ... Penalties - FU, Workman (roughing), 2:56; FU Shigenobu Kakudate (Slashing), 5:33; FU, Smith (Tripping), 13:47; NOR, Wright (Tripping), 16:21.
Goaltenders - NOR, Jesse DiLillo (6 shots, 3 saves, 3:59); NOR, Shane Buckley (25 shots, 20 saves); FU, Troy Chandler (27 shots, 26 saves).
The initial burst was gratifying for FU as the Lions scored just one goal total last weekend and spent much of practice this week emphasizing getting pucks on net.
"We really did have good energy to start tonight," McCabe said. "It was just one of those games where the puck bounced are way. ... We did things right around the net and it is nice to get on the scoresheet for those guys confidence."
Forward and leading scorer Collin Saint-Onge then put the contest completely out of reach with a beautiful snap shot deep in the slot that he roofed past backup goaltender Shane Buckley with less than five minutes remaining in the opening frame. Saint-Onge scored in similar fashion later in the third period to give him five goals on the season.
"He has been a force in this league since he came into the league," McCabe said of Saint-Onge. "He has high end skill and he really has a knack for the net. He is as dangerous of a player as there is in the league."
The first period scoring ended for the Lions after Kevin Smith netted a power play tally when his puck dump took a hop over Buckley's stick.
Whatever energy was left in the game evaporated as the Lions celebrated the surprising goal.
"It is tough," McCabe said. "I can't speak for them over there but in general, it is tough when a couple weak ones go in. It is deflating for any hockey team."
After a stellar weekend in net that earned him the permanent starting job, junior goaltender Troy Chandler was tested more than he would have preferred with sloppy play becoming the norm over the final two periods.
The clean sheet was broken when a screened, man-advantage shot from Northland's Colin Moberly beat Chandler. He finished with 26 total saves.
"He was solid all the way around," McCabe said. "A couple of times we left him hanging out to dry and he saved us. We were cheating above pucks and he was good."
Finlandia kept scoring against the grain of play as Northland flubbed several careless passes in the neutral zone.
Sean Burke was gifted a clear break out - he backhanded successfully - and Justin Scott enjoyed an open one-timer in the slot when he was left unmanned.
In McCabe's mind, the tallies hide the fact that Northland played Finlandia even over the last two periods.
"We are happy with the two points, we will take it and move on but we are going to have to be better tomorrow," McCabe said. "Because that is a good hockey team over there that works hard. The last two periods they played right with us."