Hancock mercies Negaunee

Negaunee High School's Eric Hurst, right, uses his skate to protect the puck from Hancock High School's Bryce Randell, center, and Carter Nettell, left, on Monday night, Jan. 2, 2017, at the Negaunee Ice Arena. (Journal photo by Jess Makela)

NEGAUNEE — The Negaunee Miners were a victim of a mercy by the defending state prep hockey champion Hancock Bulldogs by a score of 11-3 at home Monday, in a match that was called off after the second period.

“Our guys didn’t come out to play,” Negaunee head coach Josh Chapman said. “We showed up for half a period, but we needed more than that.”

Alex Nordstrom led the Bulldogs (9-1) in scoring with four goals and two assists in the win.

Hancock head coach Dan Rouleau said the sophomore forward is one of his most talented players on his roster.

“He’s an explosive skater,” Rouleau said. “When he has the puck, he’ll be even with the defensemen at the blue line and by the time they get to the net, he’s got strides on the guy. He’s adverse and strong when the puck is on his stick, and he can deke out any goalie.”

The Miners (5-4) stumbled from the beginning, committing two penalties and getting outshot 6-1 in the first five minutes.

Nordstrom took advantage of the early opportunities, working his way through a pileup in front of Negaunee goalie Nolan Corwin and lifting a free puck to put the Bulldogs up 1-0 with a powerplay goal a little over two minutes into the game.

Five minutes later, Nordstrom found himself staring down Corwin with a defender on him, and wristed a shot above Corwin’s right shoulder to go on top 2-0.

Negaunee continued to struggle protecting around the net, and the Bulldogs added two goals in the period’s final four minutes from Bryce Randell and Bryan Lepisto to take the 4-0 lead.

Negaunee responded quickly coming out the second, with Jackson Viola earning a rebound goal just 19 seconds into the period. The Miners continued generating pressure in the offensive zone off the ensuing face-off, and less than a minute and a half later Negaunee’s Trevor Borlace slid the puck under Hancock goalie Cam Murray’s stomach to make it 4-2.

Eric Hurst intercepted a Bulldog pass at center ice, and with just one defender between him and Shane Ring, the two passed their way across the blue line to set up a slap shot goal by Ring, cutting a once four-goal lead down to just one in less than three minutes.

Chapman said he told his team to calm down and keep it simple between periods.

“We got back to basics and changed things up a bit,” Chapman said. “It’s for our guys to want it. I can’t want it for them, and they showed they did, but we just couldn’t keep it up.”

But 10 minutes into the period the Bulldogs had regained control of the game and their offense began to pour down on the Miners. Carter Nettell and Lance Kangas scored within 20 seconds apart from each other, proving their continued dominance in front of Corwin.

And for the last seven minutes, nothing held Hancock back.

Whether it was a two-on-one goal from Nettell to Randell, or a pass from Tyler Turcotte in the corner to a diving Devyn LaCourt in front of the net, the Bulldogs had their way scoring seven straight goals in less than seven minutes to mercy the Miners.

Rouleau said his team remaining calm allowed them to stick to their game plan throughout the period.

“We wanted to keep getting the puck on net,” Rouleau said. “We didn’t get rattled and knew we had to get back to shooting and crashing the net, and it got us a lot of easy goals on rebounds.

“It shows how explosive our guys to come back and finish it in the second period, which is surprising with the start it had.”

Negaunee goalie Nolan Corwin had 29 saves on 40 shots, while Hancock’s Cam Murray saved 11 of 14.