Houghton falls to Rochester United in overtime

Dawson McKay battles for the puck with Rochester United’s Nikesh Solanki Saturday, at Dee Stadium. Houghton lost 4-3 in overtime. (Bryce Derouin/ Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — The Houghton Gremlins recorded 27 shots. They scored three goals. They took Rochester United (3-3) to overtime, Saturday at Dee Stadium. 

On paper, things look pretty good, but according to head coach Corey Markham they were missing one crucial thing in the 4-3 loss: effort.

That is particularly frustrating for Markham because when Houghton (1-4-1) went to overtime with Brother Rice on Friday, the Gremlins’ sense of urgency was the thing that stood out to him the most. The Gremlins came away with a 2-2 tie, but Markham noticed a shift in his team. Now, the Gremlins have taken a step backward.

“I’m extremely disappointed with our effort,” he said. “We had a really good taste in our mouth last night after our effort level and how well we played as a team, and then to return today without any energy, and we just didn’t play with the intensity that we needed to.”

On Saturday overtime began with Rochester on a power play. It ended not long later with four Gremlins kneeling in front of their goal, heads down in a dejected state. 

What happened in between was a goal by Mitchell Shell after he dug the puck out in front of the net and buried it, giving Rochester the 4-3 win. 

Going into overtime on a power play was a dream situation for the Falcons and a nightmare for the Gremlins. But it wasn’t the only impactful penalty of the game. Houghton led 1-0 after the first period when Kevin Bostwick scored at the 7:13 mark. Then, in the second period, one whistle changed the trajectory of the contest.

The momentum shift came at 4:31 into the second when Houghton was called for boarding. It resulted in a 5-minute major and two Rochester goals.

With 3:32 left in the power play, Blake Conley evened the score at 1 when he lined up a shot from between the blue line and faceoff circle, on the right side of the ice. It went past Jimmy Pietila and into the top corner of the net. 

Pietila recorded three saves following the goal, but Rochester scored again with 36 seconds left on the power play. The puck deflected back to Kon Mantios, who hit the back of the net on a one-timer, throwing his fist in the air to celebrate the 2-1 lead. 

“That penalty absolutely changed the momentum,” Markham said. “To kill off five minutes is extremely hard, and we were using the same couple guys on the kill which wears them out a little bit more. That is a huge deal to try and kill off, and that was a big part in the game for sure.”

The third period began with more of the same, as a deflection ended up on the stick of Tyler Drummy, who tapped it home for a 3-1 Rochester lead. 

But Rochester’s bounce-back seemed to ignite the Gremlins, and they scored two-straight goals in the third period to even things up.

Dawson McKay took a shot from the right side at a difficult angle but was able to score, pulling Houghton within one at 12:49. Three minutes later, Bostwick netted his second of the game when he lined up a long shot from the blue line. 

The goals where somewhat uncharacteristic for a Houghton team that generally scores by manufacturing plays in front of the net. According to Markham, Houghton doesn’t possess a lot of natural goal-scoring ability, so they find offensive success on deflections and loose pucks. But McKay and Bostwick netted their goals on skill plays. In general, Markham said, Houghton needs to figure out how to organize more offensive sets.

“We will be working on it in practice and hopefully things will start to click for individuals, and they will see things a little bit better when there are scoring opportunities,” he said. “But that is a hard one to correct.”

Houghton played poised in the third period and attacked Rochester on offense and defense to force overtime. But one period of quality hockey is never enough, and Markham made sure his players knew that following the loss. 

“To me, we clearly didn’t work hard enough until the third period,” he said. “They outworked us for two periods and we are not nearly talented enough to take two periods off and not play at our top effort level.”

Next up, Houghton hosts Escanaba on Friday at 7 p.m.

– – –

Rochester United 0 2 1 1 – 4

Houghton 1 0 2 0 – 3

First period

Houghton- Kevin Bostwick (Patrick Donnelly, Brendan Erickson), 7:13, 1-0. 

Second period

Rochester- Blake Conley (Matthew Kanaras), 14:01, 1-1.

Rochester- Kon Mantios (Kyle Crutchfield), 11:04, 2-1.

Third period

Rochester- Tyler Drummy (Aaron Jagdfeld, Drew Stempien), 14:09, 3-1. 

Houghton- Dawson McKay, 12:49, 3-2.

Houghton- Bostwick (McKay, Brendan Erickson), 10:48, 3-3.


Mitchell Shell (Crutchfield), 6:47, 4-3. 


Rochester: Cole Friedman 24.

Houghton: Jimmy Pietila 26.


Rochester: 2/4; Houghton 3/9.

Power play

Rochester: 2/3; Houghton 0/2.


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