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Prep Hockey: Miners score 6 straight goals, spill Jeffers 6-3

HOUGHTON — Jeffers Jets assistant captain Jackson Rocchi had a strong performance Tuesday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena as he picked up three points on a goal and two assists. Unfortunately for the home fans, it was not enough as the Negaunee Miners got four goals from Jack Mattias to secure a 5-3 road win.

For the Jets, jumping out to a 3-0 lead before surrendering five straight goals is a tough lesson to learn.

“It’s tough,” said Jets coach Patrick Nettell. “We tried mixing up the lines, just trying to create a little anything. I guess, if you’re gonna blow a game, beginning of the season is the time to do it.

“This is rock bottom. So it’s got to be nowhere but up from here. The guys just got to realize the mistakes they’re making.”

Mattias’ third goal was the one that broke the 3-3 tie at 8:41 of the third period when he beat Jets senior goaltender Noah Nettell. To make matters worse for the hosts, he struck again, just 18 seconds later to give the Miners a two-goal lead, which they then held on to for the rest of the night.

“That’s two nights that are all that he’s had put up some points for us,” said Miners coach Dale Hopper. “That’s that senior leadership that we are leaning on early in the season to get us moving forward.”

Getting the win is a big step for a Miners team that is looking to take the next step.

“It was a good win,” said Hopper. “We pulled out … really, really resilient and fought back.(We) took it one step at a time and one goal at a time to get back to where we needed to be.”

For the opening minute, it appeared that visiting Miners were the team that did not have to travel Tuesday evening as they had a scoring chance just 19 seconds into game. Jack Mattias grabbed the puck in the right corner and drove hard out in front of the Jeffers net, but his backhand was stopped by Noah Nettell.

That stop seemed to spark the Jets to get involved, and for most of the remainder of the opening frame, Rocchi took over.

After getting a pass in the high slot from freshman defenseman Kyle Heltunen, Rocchi fired a shot into traffic in front of Miners goaltender Ryan Kerkela. Before it reached the crease, junior forward Kyler Hillstrom tipped the puck past Kerkela at 5:05.

The Jets kept the pressure on, and were rewarded at the 11:01 mark when Rocchi found space on the left side of the slot. Hillstrom fed the puck over Rocchi, who beat Kerkela with a wrister.

Patrick Nettell wants to see more out of his team, which is leaning heavily on Rocchi with Matthew Halonen out of the lineup for the foreseeable future.

“It’s a lot on Rocchi,” Nettell said. “That’s the time when other players their chance to rise up. If you’re on the third line, (it) doesn’t mean you have to stay there. You have to work your butt off.

“You always have to try to be a leader, not a follower. Don’t sit behind the guy in front of you.”

Looking to continue to put distance between themselves and the Miners, the Jets did just that at 13:35. Junior winger Nathan Wakeham parked himself just off the crease on the left side of the slot. Junior defenseman Caleb Klein placed a pass right in a spot where Wakeham could redirect the puck past Kerkela.

The Miners found a way to get on the board late in the opening frame when Chad Pohlman found some time and space in the neutral zone. He skated over the blue line and fired a backhand shot on goal. Nettell made the save, but the rebound kicked right back to Pohlman, who buried it at 16:37.

Looking to continue to climb back into the contest, the Miners were able to do so just 59 seconds into the middle frame. Mattias, who found some open ice in the right circle, took a pass from Noah Penrose and beat Noah Nettell with a wrist shot.

Mattias had another good look about a minute and a half later, but stopped by Noah Nettell. After that save, the Jets rallied around their netminder and started to push the game back the other direction. Rocchi twice had chances to pick up his fourth point of the night. The first came about six minutes in when he kicked a pass over to Wakeham, who found himself alone in the slot. Wakeham was not able to beat Kerkela with a wrister. Rocchi then found himself alone in front of Kerkela nearly two minutes later, but the puck slid off his stick as he attempted to deke around the Miners goaltender.

Noah Nettell made three good saves in the latter stages of the second to preserve the Jets’ one-goal lead.

Rocchi had another great look at a fourth point while shorthanded when he skated in alone from the blue line. He made a quick move to his forehand, but could not beat Kerkela.

Less than a minute after that missed opportunity at one end of the ice, the Miners got a similar chance at the other end, and they did not miss.

Mattias found some open space and drove hard to the net with the puck. Making a move to his backhand, Mattias got around Noah Nettell and buried a backhand at 6:44.

The Jets pressed hard after finding themselves down two goals in the latter stages of the third, but could not buy a goal as Kerkela stood his ground.

The Miners added an insurance marker from Connor O’Dovero with 2:23 left to seal the win.

Negaunee 1 1 4 — 6

Jeffers 3 0 0 — 3

First Period — 1, JHS, Hillstrom (Rocchi, Heltunen), 5:05. 2, JHS, Rocchi (Hillstrom), 11:01. 3, JHS, Wakeham (Klein, Rocchi), 13:35. 4, NHS, Pohlman, 16:37.

Second Period — 5, NHS, Mattias (Penrose, Luokkala), 16:01.

Third Period — 6, NHS, Mattias, 10:16. 7, NHS, Mattias (Lukkarinen), 8:41. 8, NHS, Mattias (Luokkala), 8:59. 9, NHS, O’Dovero (Penrose), 14:37.

Saves–NHS, Kerkela, 10-10-11 — 31. JHS, Nettell 6-11-5 — 22

Power Plays–NHS 0 for 3; JHS 0 for 2

Penalties-minutes–NHS 2-4. JHS 3-6

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