CALUMET - With a 6-4 record for the 2012 part of its schedule, including a minus-11 goal differential, the Calumet hockey team has been looking forward to a brighter 2013 by the Copper Kings' lofty standard.
Friday night was an excellent start.
Calumet blended strong skating and skill to produce six goals, while junior netminder Troy Pierce turned in what coach Jim Crawford called the goalie's "best game of the season" as the Copper Kings took down downstate Novi 6-2.
Calumet senior forward Brendan Jacques fires a shot from the slot Friday night. Jacques finished with a goal and three primary assists in the 6-2 win over Novi. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
"We have been kind of struggling this year and it was nice to get that win," senior forwarad Lucas Lahnala, who finished with two goals and an assist, said. "The puck was moving around well and we did a nice job breaking out of our zone."
Pierce came under siege early in the first period but turned away all 12 Novi chances, including several odd-man rushes. Pierce saved 31 of 33 attempts for the game.
Crawford said the early saves were important as injuries have caused some up-and-down play for the junior netminder.
Novi 0 0 2 - 2
Calumet 0 4 2 - 6
First period - No scoring.
Second period - 1, CAL, Braden Anderson (Evan Billeck, Brad Hodges), 3:25; 2, CAL, Anderson (Hodges, Billeck), 10:06; 3, CAL, Brendan Jacques (Lahnala, Adam Gill), 11:31; 4, CAL, Eric Mattila (Jacques), 16:03.
Third period - 5, NOV, Chris Kennedy (Luke Bageris), 2:06; 6, CAL, Lahnala (Jacques), 4:08; 7, NOV, Bageris (Josh Ward, Mark Czapaki), 13:35; 8, CAL, Lahnala (Jacques, Blake Rowe), 14:07.
Penalties - Novi, 6-12; Calumet, 4-8.
Goalie saves - Novi, Austin Petty 34 (12-12-10); Calumet, Troy Pierce 31 (12-9-10).
"He played an exceptional first period," Crawford said. "And he was solid the whole game. We were real happy with his play. He has had a few injuries and struggled a bit, so this was probably the best he has played all year."
Calumet jumped on Novi early in the second period then, with junior forward Braden Anderson skating around net and beating Novi goalie Austin Petty from the endline three-and-a-half minutes in. Anderson netted again seven minutes later when he blindly backhanded a rebound as his back was to the net.
"He came in from a tough angle, but the goalie left the side of the net wide open," Crawford said. "He wasn't on the post at all. I thought (Petty) was playing really good but then he allowed something like that. It was kind of weird.
"Any time you put it on net you have a chance for something to happen."
Senior Brendan Jaques was able to show off his blazing speed less than two minutes later when Lahnala hit the Northern Michigan recruit with a cross-ice pass that left Jacques with just Pierce to beat. He deked once outside and then flipped the puck to the roof to give Calumet a 3-0 lead.
"He made a great move to go farside and we really seized the momentum with that three-goal lead," Lahnala said. "We have been working a lot in practice getting it high off the glass and really emphasizing on our breakouts. It's helped quite a bit."
Jacques was able to pay it back with three primary helpers, setting up Eric Mattila on a five-on-three power play with under a minute in the second period and then freeing Lahnala twice in the third frame on odd-man rushes.
"He was moving the puck really well tonight," Lahnala said. "He is either going to put it on the net and give you a chance at a rebound or he'll give you a pass. Tonight he gave me that beautiful saucer pass."
"When he skates and goes wide he is a defenseman's nightmare," Crawford added. "He just causes all kinds of trouble with his speed."
Although Novi cashed in on a sloppy turnover and power play score in the third period, the game was never in doubt.
Calumet hosts Brighton at 7 p.m. tonight.