Defensive lapses prove costly for Houghton in 6-5 loss to Kingsford
HOUGHTON — The Kingsford Flivvers needed a night like this.
With a 6-5 victory on the road over the Houghton Gremlins Monday, the Flivvers lifted the spirits of the players, their families and their friends with a 6-5 win at Dee Stadium.
Head coach Dennis Murvich, whose team has been through an emotional rollercoaster in recent weeks, had tears in his eyes as he tried to explain just what the win meant to his team and to the school.
“It’s an unspeakable tragedy that has happened,” Murvich said. “You hope things like that draw the boys closer together, that they come together as a unit.”
Two Kingsford students were killed in a car accident the morning of Dec. 30 on M-95. Taylor Bosley, 18, and Jolene Treml, 17, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Playing with heavy hearts, the Flivvers made use of their three lines throughout the night to keep the pressure on the Gremlins defense.
“I thought we got the puck deep into their zone and we forechecked the living daylights out of them,” Murvich said. “I think that was the key for us. And, we had three lines going [Monday]. We worked hard.”
Murvich’s son, Nick, had arguably the biggest night of all. He scored four goals, including a pair in the third period. The younger Murvich, who lost his girlfriend in the accident, led by example throughout the night.
“This has been very, very difficult on him and our family,” Murvich said of his son’s grief. “Nick has been in the dumps. [This was] a fantastic game for that kid. I could not be more proud of him.”
The Gremlins had three different leads in the contest but never held any of them for longer than three minutes. Senior winger Clayton Sayen had a big night for the Gremlins, scoring a pair of goals and adding an assist as his line accounted for three of Houghton’s five tallies, but it was not enough, as defensively the Gremlins struggled to find an answer for the younger Murvich and his linemates.
“We did not come ready to play,” Gremlins coach Corey Markham said. “We didn’t perform like we needed to.”
The Gremlins gave senior goaltender Will Stier — who gave up six goals on 29 shots — little help throughout the contest.
“I thought that was one of the worst defensive performances that I can remember in a long time,” Markham said. “It was not good. The amount of odd-man rushes they had was huge.”
The teams traded tallies into the third period before Houghton (8-6-1 overall, 5-4-2 GLHC) took a 4-3 lead at 9:54 when captain Dawson McKay lost a draw in the offensive zone but tracked down the puck, and then beat Flivvers goaltender Trevor Anderson with a wraparound.
After the goal, the Gremlins took their foot off the proverbial gas pedal and quickly found themselves down a man. Flivvers defenseman Sawyer Perpich skated the puck the length of the rink and beat Stier with a rebound at 13:00, evening the game at 4-4.
Just 40 seconds later, Nick Murvich took advantage of a Gremlins turnover and beat Stier over the glove with a wrist shot to cap off a hat-trick. He then added another 1:04 after that to extend the Flivvers’ lead to 6-4.
McKay quickly answered back just 12 seconds later when he buried a rebound.
Markham called a timeout with 48 seconds left and the faceoff in the Gremlins’ end. Despite setting a strategic plan in motion, the Gremlins struggled to get the puck out of their end before the final buzzer sounded.
Murvich’s first tally of the night came 2:11 after Sayen had given the Gremlins their second lead of the game. The Flivvers (9-5-0 overall, 3-2-0 GLHC) controlled much of the play after Sayen’s goal and were rewarded when Murvich took a pass from Lee Hedtke on an odd-man rush.
Murvich then struck again just under three minutes later after getting loose in the slot and beating Stier.
The Gremlins return to action Saturday when they face Bay Port at Dee Stadium.
– – –
Kingsford 1 2 3 — 6
Houghton 1 1 3 — 5
HHS — Darrian Raffaelli (Justin Norkol, Clayton Sayen), 9:59, 1-0
KHS — Eamonn Weed (T.J. Burke), 11:54, 1-1
HHS — Sayen (Kevin Bostwick), 1:28, 2-1
KHS — Nick Murvich (Lee Hedtke, Daunte Fortner), 3:39, 2-2
KHS — Murvich, 6:17 3-2
HHS — Sayen (Norkol, Brad Gauthier), 7:36, 3-3
HHS — Dawson McKay, 9:54, 4-3
KHS — Sawyer Perpich (Trevor Anderson), PP, 13:00, 4-4
KHS — Murvich, 13:40, 5-4
KHS — Murvich (Fortner, Trey Bociek), 14:44, 6-4
HHS — McKay (P.J. Donnelly, Taavi Rajala), 14:56, 6-5
Anderson: KHS 6 4 8 — 18
Stier: HHS 6 8 9 — 23
KHS: 2/4; HHS: 1/2
KHS: 1/1; HHS: 0/2