A Hancock Holiday
Hancock tops Houghton 4-3 to win MacInnes Holiday Classic
HOUGHTON — The Houghton Gremlins, winners of the last three John J. MacInnes Holiday Classics, had one thing on their minds Thursday night: becoming the first team to win four years in a row since Calumet accomplished the feat from 1995-98.
The Hancock Bulldogs had other plans, however, scoring twice in the opening frame to take the game and the tournament, 4-3.
Assistant captain Teddy Randell scored his second goal of the night on the power play 4 minutes, 26 seconds into the third period when his quick shot beat Gremlins goaltender Will Stier. The goal would stand as the game-winner.
Sophomore Alex Nordstrom had the primary assist on Randell’s goal, as Hancock’s “Black” line of Nordstrom, Randell and senior Lance Kangas figured in three Bulldogs’ goals, something they failed to do Wednesday night against Howell.
“[Wednesday], they were slow to pucks, they were slow up ice, and that’s not like them” said Bulldogs coach Dan Rouleau. “They played much better tonight.”
Late in the contest, with the Gremlins trailing by a goal, the teams got into a tussle near Stier after he was run into. The Gremlins ended up with a four-minute power play for the game’s final 2:05, and Kero dialed up his best save of the night when senior Ronald Olson tipped a shot from sophomore Kevin Bostwick.
“He gives you a chance to win every night and he did again tonight,” said Rouleau of Kero. “He’s an All-State goaltender and he proved it tonight…That was the kind of save he made in the state [tournament] last year in the semifinal and the final.”
Houghton would tie the game in the second period on a goal from junior Dawson McKay, who got loose, made a quick move to get past Hancock defenseman Reid Hamar, and skated in before making a move to his backhand to beat Kero at 13:31.
“Dawson McKay has good hands with his size,” said Gremlins coach Corey Markham. “Dawson’s goal was unbelievable, highlight-worthy.”
The Gremlins came out hard from the drop of the puck in the first period and had the game’s first good scoring chance when McKay made a nice move to get around Jakob Vettori, cut to the net, and lost the puck. In a strange turn of fortune, the puck slid through Kero and sat in the crease, but no Houghton skater could get to it.
Hancock’s Brody Budweg had the Bulldogs’ first good scoring chance when he found space in the right circle and fired a wrist shot. Stier was there to make the save, however. After the ensuing faceoff, Houghton captain Jacob Kruse had a scoring chance at the other end when he flew out of the defensive zone, beat a Hancock defender, cut in on Kero and deked to his backhand. Kero, who was named Most Valuable Player, tracked him well to make the save, one of his 20 on the night.
“It wasn’t the prettiest win, but we gutted it out, and that is all you can ask for,” said Kero. “We knew Houghton was going to come out strong. We just had to stick with it and keep our positive attitude.”
About a minute later, McKay and Kruse got loose on a 2-on-1. McKay fed the puck to Kruse for a one-timer, but Kero got across the crease quickly to make the save.
During a lengthy 4-on-4 situation, the Bulldogs broke through when Randell skated the puck deep in the right circle and wired a wrist shot over Stier’s glove and under the crossbar for a goal at 9:10.
Nordstrom had a chance to extend the Bulldogs’ lead about a minute later when he flew into the offensive zone and fired a shot over Stier’s left shoulder. The shot beat Steir, but not the post.
The Gremlins evened the game at 11:44 when sophomore P.J. Donnelly found Olson in the left circle near the faceoff dot. Olson made a quick move to create space from a Bulldogs’ defender and then beat Kero high over his glove.
“I am really happy with how we played,” said Markham. “I thought we did a tremendous job of pressuring their defense.”
Kruse had a chance to give Houghton the lead just under a minute later. He made a move to beat a Hancock defender to the inside of the rink and then attempted to put a shot in the same place where Olson had scored, but his shot sailed over the net.
The Bulldogs took advantage of a late first-period penalty and assistant captain Tanner Givens unleashed a wrist shot that beat Houghton goaltender Will Stier at 15:29.
Kruse had a similar chance to his play from the first period a little over three and a half minutes into the second by making a similar deke, but this time his wrist shot was stopped by Kero.
Hancock had a quality scoring chance a little over three minutes later when Givens found Nordstrom with space just outside the crease. Stier stood his ground to keep Nordstrom from adding to the Bulldogs’ lead.
Sophomore Bryce Randell scored Hancock’s third goal when he batted home a rebound at 15:03 of the middle frame. Junior Carter Nettell picked up the lone assist on the play.
Trailing by two in the third, the Gremlins cut the lead to one when sophomore Justin Norkol’s shot from the left point found its way past Kero at 4:39.
Joining Kero on the All-Tournament team were Givens, McKay, Kruse and Calumet’s Trevor Johnson and Rory Anderson.
Houghton 1 1 1 – 3
Hancock 2 1 1 – 4
1, HCH, Teddy Randell (Tanner Givens), 9:10
2, HHS, Ronald Olson (P.J. Donnelly), 11:44
3, HCH, Givens (Alex Nordstrom, Lance Kangas), PP, 15:29
4, HHS, Dawson McKay, 13:31
5, HCH, Bryce Randell (Carter Nettell), 15:03
6, HCH, Teddy Randell (Nordstrom, Givens), PP, 4:26
7, HHS, Justin Norkol, 4:39
HHS, Stier 10 7 15 – 32
HCH, Kero 8 6 6 – 20
HHS: 5/12; HCH: 7/18
HHS: 0/6; HCH: 2/4