Three-goal swing lifts Houghton past Hancock, 3-1

Houghton’s Matthew Rowe (2) celebrates his goal with teammates during a game against Hancock on Saturday, March 6, 2021, in Houghton, Mich. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — Scoring first in a rivalry game is sometimes the only momentum shift a team needs to win.

In a rivalry like the cross-canal battle between Houghton and Hancock, it often takes a one-two combo and a knockout blow for either one to go down.

On Saturday, Houghton found that one-two combo before getting a knockout blow against Hancock in a 3-1 win at Dee Stadium.

With Houghton leading 1-0 after two periods, Hancock scored a tying goal 25 seconds into the third period, but officials conferred and waved it off, ruling the Gremlins’ net was off.

The Gremlins (9-2-1) held on to the momentum as a result and, 11 minutes later, scored back-to-back goals 10 seconds apart. What could have been a 1-1 game for the Bulldogs was a 3-0 lead for the Gremlins.

“It’s a big win, no matter what,” Houghton head coach Corey Markham said. “When you’re playing your rival, we could be playing tiddlywinks and you’re going to want to beat them, so it’s a huge win for us.”

The goal being waved off was a point of frustration for the Bulldogs (8-4), and head coach Scott Mikesch, who stood up for his team in having a word with the referee after the goal was disallowed.

“There were some unfortunate things that happened tonight,” Hancock head coach Scott Mikesch said. “And that’s hockey.”

The game was nip and tuck with both teams playing fast paced end-to-end, as though both ends of the ice were down hill. In fact, the pace of the game was a point of emphasis for Hancock, playing on an ice sheet notably smaller than its home ice at Houghton County Ice Arena.

“I thought Houghton was a little better than us tonight,” Mikesch said. “They play so well in Dee Stadium, got us hemmed in and we spent a lot of the first period in our zone. I thought there was portions of the game we played well, but they were a little better today and they deserved to win.

“We played hard tonight. I don’t think it was that, it was more strategically what we had to do and they play really well on this rink. It’s small. And things happen a lot faster than they do in other places. We didn’t adjust right away. So we got off to a slow start that way.”

Houghton struck the first blow with defenseman Matthew Rowe’s shot through traffic eight and a half minutes into the second period.

Hancock found chances here and there, mostly on chances that came on a rush into the zone and a shot and rebound. But Houghton did more to set up offensive chances and control the puck in Hancock’s zone.

That was partly why Hancock’s tying goal early in the third quieted the crowd, but it got rowdy again as the refs disallowed the goal and kept Hancock scoreless.

Then the Gremlins scored twice in 10 seconds with goals from Landon Stevens and Zane Beyer. Stevens’ goal was assisted by Dane Johnson and Connor Raffaelli. Beyer’s goal was assisted by Brendan Miller.

While the first Houghton goal had staggered Hancock, the back-to-back goals put Hancock on the brink. The Bulldogs fought on with a 6 on 3 power-play later in the third, but it was too little too late.

“Obviously when you have a 6 on 3 chance, I thought we moved it around good. We were doing the things we wanted to,” Mikesch said. “Houghton really caved in to the front of the net and they took the cross-ice pass away. And hats off to them, you know, they did a good job killing and then we finally did get one.”

Todd Anderson score Hancock’s late goal in the third with assists from Bradley Randell and Mason Mikesch.

Jimmy Pietila had 27 saves for the Gremlins.

“We haven’t been scoring a lot against the top teams here,” Markham said. “We know we have really good goaltending and if we can get a lead that takes a lot of pressure off us. Huge to get the first goal give us momentum. But the big one was obviously scoring the second goal and then the third. That little sigh of relief, and then we know we have Jimmy back there who was an absolute stone wall.”

Brandon Pietila had 26 saves for the Bulldogs.

Hancock hosts Jeffers today. Houghton visits Kingsford on Tuesday.

HCHS 0 0 1 — 1

HHS 0 1 2 — 3

First Period–Penalties–HHS, Beyer, (cross-checking), 12:19.

Second Period–Scoring–1, HHS, Rowe, 8:26. Penalties–HCHS, Pizzi, (hooking), 13:36.

Third Period–Scoring–2, Stevens, (Johnson, Raffaelli), 11:04. 3, HHS, Beyer, (Miller), 11:14. 4, HCHS, Anderson, (Randell, Mikesch), 16:05, pp. Penalties–HCHS, Heinonen, (holding), 2:59. HHS, Halonen, (slashing), 13:35. HHS, Markham, (tripping), 14:45.

Shots on Goal–HCHS 5-8-15–28. HHS, 8-9-12–29.

Power-play Opportunities–HCHS 1 of 3. HHS 0 of 2.

Goalies–HCHS, B. Pietila, 8-8-10–26 saves. HHS, J. Pietila, 5-8-14–27.


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