Prep Hockey: Mikesch, Bulldogs top Jets 5-1

Hancock junior scores hat trick

Hancock's Mason Mikesch (10) scores during the first period against Jeffers on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in Houghton, Mich. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — Head coach Dan Rouleau knew one of the secrets to another strong performance for his Hancock Bulldogs hockey team would be a fast start against the Jeffers Jets Tuesday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.

The Bulldogs got the start they needed, scoring twice before the game was even seven minutes old, giving Hancock their 10th win in their last 13 games as they topped the Jets, 5-1.

“Every time you play a game of hockey, you want to get a quick start,” Rouleau said, “and we did get the quick start with the two goals tonight. We were able to build off of it too, so that was kind of nice.”

With the win, the Bulldogs are now 11-11-0 on the season after starting the year 1-8-0.

For the Jets, the start looked awfully familiar. Head coach Patrick Nettell’s team has had a tough time starting games since early December, especially at home. They also seem to be struggling in their own end.

Hancock's Rudy Bekkala (12) battles Jeffers' Jordan Keranen (16) and Brent Heinonen (6) on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in Houghton, Mich. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette)

“We need to relax in our defensive zone,” Nettell said. “That’s where we’re panicking. We start running and chasing and then that’s giving the opposing team, Hancock, all the opportunity in the world. Once again, all their goals were scored in the house area.”

Junior winger Mason Mikesch got the Bulldogs off to the fast start with two goals in a span of less than a minute and a half. HIs first came at 4:06 when he took a feed from junior winger Austin Salani and buried a shot off the post past Jets goaltender Simon Rajala.

Rajala fell victim to Mikesch again two shifts later when he buried a rebound from the slot. Salani again assisted on the tally.

Mikesch eventually picked up his hat trick goal just 3:57 into the third. He drove hard to the net, took a pass from Salani and buried it past Rajala.

The Jets had a power play shortly after the second Hancock goal, but could not really generate shots on goal despite controlling the puck for most of the advantage

Hancock's Petr Anderson (15) shoots against Jeffers goalie Simon Rajala (31) on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in Houghton, Mich. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette)

From there, the two teams settled into a back-and-forth game until late in the opening frame when co-captain Petr Anderson drove the puck back behind the Jets’ net. From there, he moved the puck out to sophomore defenseman Chad Nordstrom. Nordstrom got his head up and saw junior winger Kyle Mikkola set up off to Rajala’s left. Nordstrom fired a pass down to Mikkola, who buried the puck behind Rajala at 15:00.

The game remained 3-0 in favor of Hancock until the 10:12 mark of the middle frame. Nordstrom jumped on a Jets’ clearing pass in the neutral zone and fed the puck quickly to Mikkola. Mikkola beat the first Jets defender he came across and then fed the puck over to Mikesch. Mikesch waited for Mikkola to get to the net, and fed the puck back to him. As he was being knocked down, Mikkola pushed the puck past Rajala for his second goal of the night.

Considering that the Bulldogs were playing without co-captain Colton Salani, Rouleau was very pleased to see Mikkola playing with confidence.

“That’s exactly what you need members of the third line to do pick up their game a little bit and that whole line has,” said Rouleau.

Just under four minutes after Hancock made it 4-0, the Jets finally broke through when assistant captain David Storm took a pass from sophomore winger Jordan Keranen and drove into the slot before releasing a wrist shot that eluded Pietila at 14:07.

Hancock's Calvin Heinonen (19) stick handles as Jeffers' Caleb Klein (3) defends on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in Houghton, Mich. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette)

About a minute later, Anderson had two looks to Rajala’s left, but could not beat him with either try. He then got another look from the slot, but was again denied as Rajala made 13 of his 33 saves on the night in the frame.

Rajala, who is quickly developing into the Jets’ top option between the pipes, continued his strong play in the third period. He stopped another 11 Bulldogs shots sent his way.

“Simon is phenomenally well,” Nettell said. “That’s why we’re still running with him. He’s got that attitude and mentality for it. He loves that feeling. We are really proud of him.”

Jeffers hosts Kingsford on Thursday. The Bulldogs visit Houghton on Friday.

Hancock 3 1 1 — 5

Jeffers 0 1 0 — 1

First Period–1, HCH, Mikesch (A. Salani, Bekkala), 4:06. 2, HCH, Mikesch (Salani), 6:21. 3, HCH, Mikkola (Nordstrom, P. Anderson), 15:00.

Second Period–4, HCH, Mikkola (Mikesch, Nordstrom), 10:12. 5, JHS, Storm (Keranen, Halonen), 14:07.

Third Period–6, HCH, Mikesch (A. Salani), 3:57.

Shots on Goal–HCH 12-14-1–27. JHS Rajala 8-6-0–14.

Goalies–HCH, Pietila 8-5-0–13. JHS, Rajala 9-13-0–22

Power-play Opportunities–HCH 0 of 1. JHS 0 of 2

Penalties-minutes–HCH 2-4. JHS 1-2


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