Markham sets record as Gremlins win pair of games

Houghton freshman forward Connor Arko (19) celebrates his goal against Hartland on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, in Houghton, Mich. (Photograph by Visual Insights) ***NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION***

Gremlins earn first win against Eagles

HOUGHTON — Much like their win on Friday against De La Salle, the No. 2 Houghton Gremlins hockey team fought through an even first period before controlling much of the play over the game’s final 34 minutes en route to a 5-1 win over the No. 8 Hartland Eagles Saturday at Dee Stadium.

The win, which was the Gremlins’ first ever over the Eagles, was Houghton coach Corey Markham’s 379th of his career, the highest total in school history, breaking Don “Mitt” Miller’s record. He was extremely proud to do so as part of his team’s season-opening nine-game winning streak, as well as his team’s first victory over the Eagles.

“Mitt was my mentor, he was here for 28 years, and meant so much to so many of the guys that played for him,” Corey Markham said. “All the years add up…just really special. Then, to do it against a team that we had never beaten, that is certainly one of the top teams in the state, just makes it so much sweeter.”

A back-and-forth first 17 minutes had one major highlight for the home crowd when sophomore defenseman Oscar Peterson chipped the puck past the Eagles defense, and set up freshman winger Connor Arko for a breakaway. Arko skated in alone, deked to his backhand and raised a shot over Eagles goaltender Colin Babcock’s blocker shoulder at 10:35.

Houghton junior goaltender Bryant Lee (33) makes a save as De La Salle Collegiate sophomore forward Domenic Belloli (88) gathers the rebound on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022, in Houghton, Mich. (Photograph by Visual Insights) ***NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION***

The goal was Arko’s third of the season, and a key part of giving the Gremlins much-needed secondary scoring.

“Connor is having a tremendous freshman season,” said Corey Markham. “Our third line has been so strong for us all year. I keep saying it.”

The game remained a one-goal lead for the Gremlins (9-0 overall) until junior defenseman Wyatt Jenkins took a penalty just 6:39 into the second period. On the ensuing advantage, Jack L’Esperance got the puck off the faceoff to Gremlins goaltender Bryant Lee’s left. L’Esperance quickly moved to the middle of the blue line and wired a shot that beat Lee just four seconds later.

Rather than sitting back and allowing the Eagles (7-3 overall) to gain momentum, the Gremlins struck back hard. Co-captain Gaborik Carlson regained the lead for the Gremlins at 7:18 when his shot slid through Babcock’s feet.

The goal was a backbreaker for the Eagles, despite how much time was left in the contest, said Eagles coach Rick Gadwa.

“It was really impactful on the game,” he said. “I’m not saying it sealed it, because there was so much left, but when you look back on it, it basically did. We finally break the ice, and then they’re able to respond right away and never looked back.”

Alternate captain Landon Stevens scored his team-leading 16th goal of the season a little over three minutes later when he took a pass from co-captain Camden Markham and buried a shot at 10:25. Just 58 seconds later, Camden Markham got one of his own, putting the game out of reach.

“The line is so strong and fast and good,” said Corey Markham. “Cam was able to see Landon streaking and made a tremendous pass. Landon can shoot it with the best players, and he just absolutely rifled one into the corner.

“Then we made two strong plays on the boards, Landon and Gaborik, and then Gaborik found Cam in front, and he was able to put it home. That line is just really hard for teams to contend with.”

Coming out of the locker room to start the third period, the Gremlins had one goal on their mind, keep the Eagles from gaining any momentum. Fifteen seconds later, they accomplished their goal as Carlson fed the puck from the left corner out to Camden Marham on the back door, and he beat Babcock to put Houghton up by four.

Gadwa swapped goaltenders to Brady Hubenschmidt, who kept the Gremlins off the board from there.

Lee made 25 saves to earn his fifth win of the season.

Markham ties record as Gremlins shutout Pilots

HOUGHTON — The Gremlins struck twice in the second period and once in the third to earn a 3-0 victory at home over the visiting De La Salle Pilots Friday at Dee Stadium.

In Corey Markham’s opinion, the win was the Gremlins’ most complete game of the season.

“We had three really sound periods,” he said. “We didn’t give up a whole lot. They had very few good scoring chances, late they had a two on one, but not too many.”

The two teams fought to a standstill in the first period. Corey Markham was impressed by how well the Pilots kept the Gremlins from being able to build off the rush.

“I was really impressed with how they played,:” he said. “They didn’t give us an inch, especially in the first period. They just didn’t give us much room, and we didn’t create a lot of scoring chances in that first period.”

With the game still scoreless in the early stages of the middle frame, the Pilots (3-7 overall) took a penalty 1:35 in. On the ensuing advantage, alternate captain Sully Rajala got the puck off the faceoff and quickly moved it across the rink to co-captain Camden Markham in the right circle. Markham wasted no time moving it back across the rink to Carlson, who buried it 11 seconds later.

The goal was part of a set play the Gremlins work on in practice.

“Our power play can be very deadly when they do that,” said Corey Markham. “Sometimes they get in the habit of wanting to hold it a little bit too long, and try and break down one guy, but when we move it like that, it’s very tough to defend.”

The Gremlins struck again at 4:59 when Connor Arko snatched up a rebound off a shot from sophomore center Jay Halonen, and he buried it.

After Arko’s tally, the Gremlins kept the pressure on Pilots, hemming them for long stretches in their own end. Over a two and a half minute stretch, Camden Markham had two scoring chances in close.

By the end of the period, the Gremlins had managed a 15-3 shot advantage.

Pilots assistant coach Ian Cicchini, who was serving as the head coach while Sean Clark was out with illness, felt that the Gremlins made things very difficult for his Pilots squad by keeping them from being able to get out of their own end.

“They (Houghton) were just hard in the corners,” he said. ‘We have a young (defensive) corps. They’re figuring it out, and I thought this game was a really good learning experience for them. The sooner they learn that, ‘hey, my internal clock’s got to speed up,’ the better off they’ll be.

“A team like Houghton will do that to you.”

Awarded an early power play in the third period, the Gremlins put the game out of reach. Camden Markham got the puck over to Stevens, who found the net at 4:29, pushing the hosts’ lead to three.

From there, the Gremlins continued to throw everything they had at Pilots goaltender Benjamin VanderDonck, who made another 16 saves in the final frame.

Junior goaltender Bryant Lee finished with 12 saves in earning his second shutout of the season.

Corey Markham moved into a tie with Don “Mitt” Miller for the most wins in school history with the victory.


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