Houghton shocks Calumet on Senior Night: Senior leadership key as Gremlins top Copper Kings
Senior leadership key as Gremlins top Copper Kings
HOUGHTON — In a potential preview of the regional tournament championship game, the Houghton Gremlins and Calumet Copper Kings battled Tuesday night at Dee Stadium. When the smoke cleared, the Gremlins earned their first victory of the season over their rivals to the north, 3-2.
For the Gremlins, who celebrated their Senior Night, it was fitting that all three goals were scored by seniors in Brandon Trudeau, co-captain Ty Halonen, and Tucker Tapani. Head coach Corey Markham has been looking to his seniors for leadership all season, and for the second straight game, that is exactly what he has gotten.
With the game tied at 2-2 in the final minute of regulation, Halonen banked the puck off the left boards to put it into a space where Tapani could get to it, provided he fought off his defender. Having done that, Tapani got to the puck, skated into the slot and beat Calumet goaltender Alex Studebaker with a wrist shot at 16:19.
“Tremendous play by Ty,” said Markham. “He threw an indirect pass. He knew (Tucker was) up there and he threw it off the boards. Tucker positioned himself where he walled off their defenseman and then it was a race for the park.
“One of his (Tapani’s) traits is his speed. He got the edge on the defender. He can shoot the puck. He scored, and (it was) a great play by him and fortunate for us.”
With the win, the Gremlins secured at least a tie for the Great Lakes Hockey Conference regular season title.
The Copper Kings controlled the first seven minutes of the game, keeping the Gremlins penned in their own end for most of that time and firing long shots at Gremlins goaltender Jimmy Pietila. Pietila stood tall for Houghton (16-8-0 overall, 10-1-0 GLHC), stopping everything tossed his way as his teammates did a commendable job of keeping the Copper Kings from creating much traffic in front of him.
The Gremlins finally forced the Copper Kings (18-5-1 overall, 9-2-0 GLHC) to play a little in their own end about 30 seconds later, but Calumet responded by again pressuring Pietila with long shots from near the two points with minimal traffic in front.
When Houghton finally sustained some offensive zone time, they were rewarded. Trudeau grabbed the puck in the left circle and drove behind Studebaker’s net. He fed the puck out to junior defenseman Dane Johnson at the right point. Johnson tried to give it back to Trudeau, but his pass was intercepted. Trudeau, who was still skating, stole the puck back, skated through the slot, and fired a wrist shot that beat Studebaker through the legs at 12:02.
It was the type of response to the bulk of the first period the Gremlins needed.
“We had zero zone time that first period and really that was our first quality shot,” Markham said. “That’s tough on the goaltender for you know, Studebaker, where when we no time and then, all sudden there, he has a traffic and we throw it in and beat him five-hole. From that point on, we had life and we created some turnovers near the end of the period, a couple other really good chances that I thought he made some big saves on. From the last three minutes the first, was it an extremely even game.”
The Copper Kings came storming back and were rewarded for their efforts just 50 seconds later when junior center Dean Loukus cut through the slot and beat Pietila with a wrist shot. Sophomore winger Jackson Reili and sophomore defenseman Tom Erkkila both assisted on the goal.
The two teams played a very even second period that saw neither team able to generate much offense. The Copper Kings had the first good look when Dean Loukus skated out of the right circle and tried to stuff a shot past Pietila. The Copper Kings did not get another shot until late in the frame when senior defenseman Lincoln Beiring drove deep into the Gremlins’ end and tried to beat Pietila with a wrist shot. Dean Loukus had one more look with 1:45 remaining, but his rebound sailed over the net to Pietila’s right.
At the other end of the rink, Studebaker was challenged by junior winger Tedd Halonen, who stole a puck near the Gremlins’ blue line and skated it the length of the rink from there with 7:35 left in the frame. Trudeau had another good look 26 seconds later when he got the puck shortly after a faceoff outside of the Gremlins’ blue line. He skated down and fired a high wrist shot that Studebaker snatched up.
The Copper Kings were whistled for a penalty shortly after Trudeau shot, but Houghton could get the look they wanted, and once the Copper Kings cleared the puck out of the zone, the Gremlins could not find a way to establish any further time in the offensive zone.
Ty Halonen gave the Gremlins their second one-goal lead of the night just 21 seconds into the third. He skated the puck over the blue line and wired a wrist shot that Studebaker got a piece of, but could not keep out of the net.
Calumet stormed back and on an extended forecheck, junior winger Seth Coppo found sophomore winger Jackson Rilei driving to the net along the left side of the slot. Rilei wasted no time burying a one-timer at 4:34.
Houghton had two looks on the power play over the game’s final 12 minutes, but could not get much going with either opportunity. Calumet had an abbreviated power play of their own, but could not find the net either.
After Tapani’s goal, Calumet head coach Dan Giachino, who did not address the media after the contest, pulled Studebaker. The Copper Kings appeared to even the game with 24 seconds left, but the goal was called back due to a whistle having been blown before the puck crossed the goal line.
Houghton in back in action Thursday when they travel to face Marquette. Calumet will also be in action Thursday as they host Kingsford.
Calumet 1 0 1 – 2
Houghton 1 0 2 – 3
1, HHS, Brandon Trudeau, 12:02
2, CLK, Dean Loukus (Jackson Reili, Tom Erkkila),12:52
3, HHS, Ty Halonen, :21
4, CLK, Jackson Reili (Seth Coppo, Paul Sturos), 4:34
5, HHS, Tucker Tapani (Halonen), 16:19
Studebaker, CHS 8 9 9 – 26
Pietila, HHS 14 3 11 – 28
CLK: 0/1; HHS: 0/3
CLK: 3/6; HHS: 1/2