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Red Reign

New faces step up, Hancock continues to roll

Bryce Derouin/Daily Mining Gazette Hancock celebrates with the John A. Derf trophy after beating Calumet, 5-1, Saturday to win the Copper Island Classic, 9-4, this year.

CALUMET After opening the season with two big losses, one to Hartland, and one in the form of an injury to captain Tommy Randell, the Hancock Bulldogs appear to be heading in the right direction after earning a 5-1 victory in the second half of the 41st Annual Copper Island Classic over the host Calumet Copper Kings Saturday at the Calumet Colosseum.

For the Bulldogs, the win was important not just for the Classic victory, which they won 9-4, but also because it was a Great Lakes High School Hockey Conference win.

“This was a huge game,” said Bulldogs head coach Dan Rouleau. “Last year, we ended up losing the first game and we won the second game, which was a conference game. We ended up winning the conference by one game. Huge win when you look at it from that perspective.”

For the Copper Kings, playing the second game of a pair of back-to-backs to open the season proved to be too much by the latter stages of the third period.

“I think conditioning got to us a little bit there in the second half of the third period,” said Copper Kings coach Dan Giachino. “We’ll rectify that…I think I am pretty happy with where we are at.”

It was a night of firsts for Hancock, as senior Lance Kangas scored his first goal as a Bulldog, and junior Carter Nettell and sophomore Bryce Randell each scored their first career goals at the high school level.

Nettell’s tally opened the scoring in the contest just 6 minutes, 13 seconds in. With Hancock on the power play, the Copper Kings could not regain control of the puck in their own end before senior Brody Budweg moved the puck out to assistant captain Tanner Givens at the right point. While Givens’ blast did not beat Calumet goaltender Nick Voelker, a second rebound did.

“It was kind of neat to have three players score the first goals of their career at Hancock,” said Rouleau. “It was a scramble and everything, and [Carter] just found the back of the net.”

The goal carried another significant meaning. It was the first of two by members of the Bulldogs’ third line.

Last season, Hancock’s third line, made up of two seniors and then-junior Bryan Lepisto, was the difference in many hockey games due to their ability to keep pucks away from goaltender Dawson Kero and chip-in offensively with timely tallies.

“In high school hockey, you need your third line to produce once in a while and mostly come out even or plus in a game,” said Rouleau. “That’s what you really look for out of them.”

While Randell’s goal came with 33 seconds left in the contest, it was the second by the current third line, a group that was collectively plus-1 Saturday after minus-2 on Friday night.

Kangas, who is currently slotted alongside sophomore Alex Nordstrom and junior Teddy Randell, picked up his tally in the final seconds of the first period after the culmination of multiple minutes spent in the Copper Kings’ zone. Nordstrom cycled the puck to Teddy Randell, who placed a near-perfect pass on the tape of Kangas’ stick for the one-timer.

Hancock’s top unit came out hard again to start the second period. Teddy Randell had two looks from the slot, but missed the net both times.

From there Calumet (0-2 overall, 0-1 GLHSC) seemed to settle in and then began to take the game to the Bulldogs. Just under four minutes in, assistant captain Ed Beiring attempted a play similar to the one he scored on during Friday’s game, but was stopped by Kero. A minute-and-a-half later, sophomore Sam Erkkila got loose in the slot, but his shot was also stopped by Kero.

Calumet kept the pressure on, and eventually it paid off as junior Davin Lehto fired a shot through traffic that beat Kero at 5:37.

The Copper Kings continued to get bodies to the slot, created traffic throughout the period for Kero, but the junior managed to keep the Bulldogs in the lead. Giachino was pleased with his team’s performance in the period despite only netting one goal.

“You’ve got to want to go there,” said Giachino. “You are going to take a beating there. Playing against a goaltender like Kero, you have got to go there and get in his line of sight.”

The teams traded chances through the first nine minutes of the third. Unable to find the back of the net a second time, the Copper Kings began to run out of gas and eventually turned pucks over. The Bulldogs took advantage as senior Devyn LaCourt extended Hancock’s lead at 12:15 with a shot from the slot after one of those turnovers.

“We started making some mental errors on the backside,” said Giachino. “We gave the puck away a little too much.”

Giachino pulled Voelker with over two minutes remaining in the contest. Nordstrom was able to extend the Bulldogs’ lead at 15:14 when he put a puck into the empty net.

Hancock gets back at it Tuesday when they travel to Dee Stadium to face the Houghton Gremlins.

For Calumet, they’ll head to Bloomfield Hills-Cranbrook on Friday.

Scoring

Hancock  2  0  3 – 5

Calumet  0  1  0 – 1

First period

1, HCH, Carter Nettell (Brody Budweg, Devyn LaCourt), PP, 6:13

2, HCH, Lance Kangas (Teddy Randell, Alex Nordstrom), 16:10

Second period

3, CHS, Davin Lehto (Rory Anderson) 5:37

Third period

4, HCH, LaCourt, 12:15

5, HCH, Nordstrom (Tanner Givens), EN, 15:14

6, HCH, Bryce Randell (Tyler Turcotte), 16:28

Saves

HCH, Kero 7  8  9 – 24

CHS, Voelker  13  6  6 – 25

Penalties

HCH: 4/8, CHS: 2/4

Power plays

HCH: 1/2, CHS: 0/4

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