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Prep Hockey: Copper Kings rally past Northville 2-1 in overtime

Calumet’s Dean Loukus, right, shoots against Northville on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, in Calumet, Mich. (Eddie O’Neill/Daily Mining Gazette)

CALUMET — It took more than three periods but the Copper Kings pulled off a 2-1 win in overtime on Friday against the Northville Mustangs.

It was a game characterized by a lot of shots from Calumet and great goaltending by Northville’s Joey Loebach.

Two minutes into the eight-minute extra period, the Copper Kings Scott Loukus found himself in front of the Mustang’s net with the puck and was able to push it past Loebach for the 2-1 win.

“That was a tough game,” Calumet head coach Dan Giachino said. “Their goalie played a great game making a ton of saves and we were certainly grateful that one went in.”

If shots on goals equaled goals, the Calumet Copper Kings would have been winning 25 to 1 a few minutes into the second period. However, in reality, the Copper Kings were losing 1-0.

After more than 20 minutes of play, Calumet had fired on Nashville’s goalie senior Joey Loebach more than 20 times with nothing to show for it.

The Mustangs had just one shot on Calumet goalie Sam Kiiskila at the 12:28 mark in the first, and it reached the back of the net. The goal was scored by the Mustang’s senior forward Seth Bjorge, who picked up a loose puck at mid-ice and carried it across the blue line to the top of the right-side circle and let it fly past Kiiskila’s pads for a 1-0 lead.

It was a big deal, assistant coach Jon Gates said, for his young team to be leading the Copper Kings on their first 500-mile trip north to Hockeyville, USA after one period of play. Northville is located in suburban Detroit.

“I asked the guys in between periods if they were having fun and the answer was a resounding yes,” he said. “I told them but look a the shots on goal, and they smiled.”

Much to the frustration of Calumet players and coaches, the score remained 1-0 after the second period of play as well. By then, Calumet had 33 shots on goal and had totally dominated the first two periods of play. Northville had four shots.

“I told the guys to stay the course,” Giachino said. “You could tell our guys were frustrated after working hard and not have anything to show for it.”

However, some relief came at the start of the third. At the 14:41 mark Calumet’s 37th shot finally went in. Forward Jackson Rilei grabbed a loose puck in front of the net and lifted it in. The game was tied.

“We at least were no longer losing,” added Giachino.

However, relief didn’t equate to an quick road to victory. In fact, the two teams battled to a 1-1 tie after regulation play.

“I told them again to stay the course,” Giachino said of overtime. “We were generating scoring chances, and you hope one finds the back of the net.”

One finally did find net for the Copper Kings and this strange game was put to rest.

Gates said that the trip up north for his squad has been much more than just the games against Calumet and Hancock on Saturday. It has been a true cultural experience as well.

They arrived Thursday night in Calumet and had a chance to go curling Friday morning. Then they took in the historic Colosseum in all its history before the puck dropped.

“I loved the color guard on skates (before the game) and seeing the kids in the stands with their Calumet jerseys on. I can tell that hockey is ingrained so much in the culture here. That is new to our guys as our home games are not nearly as big a deal as this game was tonight for this community.”

The Mustangs visit the Hancock Bulldogs at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Northville 1 0 0 0 — 1

Calumet 0 0 1 1 — 2

First Period–1, Nor, Bjorge, 4:32.

Second Period–Penalties–Cal, Mattila (roughing) 3:25. Nor, Cooney (tripping) 0:32.

Third Period–2, Cal, Rilei (Beiring) 2:19

Overtime–3, Cal, S. Loukus ( Rowe) 5:27

Shots on Goal–Northville 1-3-10-2 –16. Calumet 22 -11-14-4 — 56

Power-play Opportunities–Northville 0 of 1. Calumet 0 of 1.

Goalies–Nor, Loebach 22-11-13-3–54 saves. Cal, Kiiskila 0-3-10-2–15.

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