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Prep Hockey: Jets fall flat in loss to Esky

WELLS — Hockey is a sport where you only get so many chances to score.

The Escanaba Eskymos took advantage of their scoring opportunities far more than their counterpart Saturday in a 7-2 home win over Jeffers in the regular season finale for both teams.

After the Jets (6-17) took a 1-0 lead on a shot from the low slot by Jackson Rocchi just over a minute into the contest, the Eskymos (13-11) scored five unanswered goals over the next 10 minutes to take a commanding 5-1 lead.

Ethan Silverstone, who recorded a playmaker with three assists, got the scoring started with a shorthanded goal on a rebound to knot the score 1-1 at the 2:39 mark. Just under four minutes later, Karson Krutina scored on a breakaway to give the Eskymos the advantage before Kyle Krutina’s unassisted goal made it 3-1 at the 9:43 mark.

“Our seniors were the ones probably going the hardest this afternoon. This could be possibly their last home game here, so those guys wanted to put as many pucks in the nets as they could. They did a great job,” Esky coach Matt Hughes said. “That lineup of (Kyle) Krutina, Silverstone and (Karson) Krutina has really done a lot of scoring for us, so they just continued to do that for us today.”

Luke Labre then fired a slapshot past Jeffers’ goaltender Evan Pietila on the power play at the 11:02 mark and Nick Kolich scored on a rebound a little over a minute later before Jeffers pulled within 5-2 on an unassisted goal by Luke Marcotte with 36 seconds left in the period.

Each team was then held scoreless in the second despite the Jets holding a 13-1 shots-on-goal advantage.

“We had a solid second period, we just can’t score. We’ve worked on it in practice and we still couldn’t score in practice,” Jeffers coach Pat Nettell said. “That’s just the issue. For many games this year, the challenge has been scoring. We get our chances and opportunities, but we don’t have anything to show for it. That’s very disappointing.”

Kolich’s second goal of the game made it 6-2 at the 6:25 mark of the third before Kyle Krutina wrapped up the scoring with a shot from point-blank range just 37 seconds later.

“Typically in a game you’re not going to get too many Grade A quality chances, so when you do get them, you have to execute,” Hughes said. “We did a great job of that in the first period. In the second period, we were on our heels and they outshot us 13-1. We were able to bounce back in the third. We didn’t create a whole lot of offense but we were able to grind out two goals.”

Trevor Denome made 29 saves for the Eskymos, were outshot 31-25. Pietila made 13 saves for Jeffers before being pulled for Noah Nettell, who stopped five shots the rest of the way. Esky was 1 for 2 on the power play and Jeffers was 0 for 3.

It was a nice bounce-back win for the Eskymos, who lost 8-0 at Hancock Thursday.

“It was good to see our guys bounce back the way they did, especially Trevor,” Hughes said. “Trevor had to make (nearly) 30 saves. In an 8-0 loss – even though they’re not all his fault, if any of them – you still kind of hold that burden on your shoulders. So it was good to see him bounce back and have some confidence today.”

Each team enters the playoffs Thursday. The Jets will host top-ranked Calumet in a Division 3 regional semifinal, while the Eskymos visit Negaunee in a Division 2 regional semifinal.

“We beat (Negaunee) both times this year, but you can’t overlook anyone in the playoffs. It’s a different style of hockey,” Hughes said. “So we’ll take the next couple of days to practice and prepare, and hopefully we can be successful up there.”

Jeffers 2 0 0 — 2

Escanaba 5 0 2 — 7

First Period–1, JHS Rocchi (Klein), 1:10. 2, EHS Silverstone (Krutina, LaMarche), 2:39. 3, EHS Krutina (Krutina, Silverstone), 6:03. 4, EHS Krutina, 9:43. 5, EHS Labre (Silverstone), 11:02. 6, EHS Kolich (Bourdeau, LaMarch), 12:28. 7, JHS Marcotte (unassisted), 16:24.

Third Period–8, EHS Kolich (Bourdeau, LaMarch), 6:25. 9, EHS Krutina (Silverstone), 7:02.

Shots on goal–JHS 31. EHS 25

Power-play Opportunities–JHS 0 of 3. EHS 1 of 2.

Goaltender saves–JHS, Pietila 13 saves, Nettell 5. EHS, Denome 29.

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