HOUGHTON - After their first weekend encounter of the 2012-13 season, the Portage Lake Pioneers and Calumet Wolverines remain deadlocked.
The Wolverines bounced back from an 8-2 defeat on home ice for a 4-3 victory at Dee Stadium to close out the home-and-home Saturday.
"Portage Lake likes playing in our rink and we like playing in theirs. It seems like we have a little more fire in this rink for some reason," Calumet coach Bruce Coppo said.
Calumet Wolverines, from left, Jeff Erkkila, Eric Bausano, Nick Patrick and goaltender Ryan Patrick celebrate a 4-3 win over Portage Lake at Dee Stadium after the final buzzer as PL’s Pete Rouleau looks on. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
The battle for local senior hockey supremacy will not be resumed any time soon, though. This weekend's games were their only Great Lakes Hockey League regular season meetings. The Gibson Cup series in April will conclude the season series.
The Wolverines (2-2-1) got on the board first and built a 4-1 lead by the early third period. Instead of pulling away like the Pioneers did the night before, a pair of Portage Lake shorthanded goals required the Wolverines to hang on for dear life, which they did ... barely.
"I just couldn't figure that out. I thought we got a little lackadaisacal there, and you can't against Portage Lake. They've got such a good offensive hockey team, they're going to turn something into goals," Coppo said.
Just like the night before, Calumet struck first - Eric Bausano slapped home a power play goal 6:57 in - and Portage Lake responded, with Alex Roy finding Trey Saari down low to tie it up about nine minutes later.
Where deviations began from Friday's script was early in the second period. After a bad clearing attempt from goaltender Mike Wuthrich ended up on the stick of Calumet's Trevor Givens, he hit Logan Rastello on the back door to put Calumet up 2-1.
Five and a half minutes later, the same line of Rastello, Givens and Isaac Bjorn linked up again, Givens scoring a gritty goal on a second-effort play with Bjorn (a goalscorer himself Friday) getting the assist.
"Right off the draw, the puck was loose. I took a big hit and I just got up and found the rebound and just banged it home," the 2011 Hancock alum said.
It was part of a good weekend for the relatively young forwards.
"They were very effective. Good on the forecheck and Givens is a real nice puckcarrier," Coppo said.
Calumet appeared to be well on its way to two points when Mike Babcock scored the 4-1 goal by charging down the slot and shooting the puck in off the crossbar early in the third, but the Pioneers didn't throw in the towel. They hit a pipe soon after Babcock's goal, then got to within 4-2 as Al L'Esperance broke in alone for the shorthanded tally.
Another penalty led to another Portage Lake goal two minutes later, as Charlie Turner scored from the right circle at 10:42.
Wuthrich came out for the extra attacker with about 90 seconds left, and though Calumet cleared the zone only once (on an icing), it kept the puck out of goalie Ryan Patrick's net for an important win.
"(Friday) night was a tough pill to swallow, being in front of a nice crowd in our own rink. Probably one of the nicest crowds we've had in years. We didn't have a good effort last night, but I love the way the guys responded today," Coppo said.
Patrick stopped 36 shots for Calumet, Wuthrich 35 for Portage Lake.
Both teams will be home for their next GLHL games Jan. 11: Portage Lake hosts West Bend and Fond du Lac is at Calumet.