Portage Lake keeps Gibson Cup

Pioneers sweep Wolverines with 5-3 win

David Archambeau/ For the Gazette The Portage Lake Pioneers are all smiles after winning the Gibson Cup on Friday at the Calumet Colosseum. They defeated the Calumet Wolverines 5-3 for the sweep of the three-game series.

CALUMET — For the second year in a row, the Portage Lake Pioneers have swept the Calumet Wolverines in the annual Gibson Cup series. After a 5-3 victory on Friday at the Calumet Colosseum, the Pioneers hoisted high one of hockey’s oldest trophies.

This second win comes after not having won this season-ending rivalry since 2017 and the consensus up and down the Portage Lake roster was that it couldn’t feel better.

“It is a special trophy to win,” said forward Anthony Harris, of the Pioneers. “To win it back to back and here at the Colosseum is a great feeling.”

Teammate Jonathan Bostwick expressed a similar sentiment.

“The Cup means a lot,” he said. “There were many year when we didn’t win it; so now to keep it for more than one year feels great.”

The Pioneers entered Game Two with a clean sweep of the Wolverines through the regular season and in the Great Lakes Hockey League’s post-season tournament. Saturday’s win was the Pioneers seventh victory against their closest league opponent.

On Thursday, they won the Gibson Cup opener 2-1 at the Dee. It was the better of the two games as the Wolverines had a 1-0 lead for much it. In fact, it was past the halfway point of the third that the Pioneers tied it and went on to in it with less than five seconds to go in regulation.

Friday’s Game Two had a different feel. Despite being at home and in front of full house, the Wolverines could not stop the Pioneers getting on the score board twice in the first.

Forward Nick Harris found the back of the net with less than five minutes into the game after Cale Markham hit him with a pass.

“It was a two on one,” said Nick, “and Cale put it on my stick, and I went top left with the puck.”

The Pioneer added another with less than two minutes to go with Cody Sivonen putting this one in.

“Bostwick gave me a pretty pass and I tipped it five hole, “ he explained.“That first period set the tone for us. I think it really helped us to relax and play our game.”

The tone certainly changed just seconds after the puck dropped in the second. At center rink, the puck had just hit the ice for the face off when the gloves came off of Calumet’s Garrett Parker and Portage Lake’s Alexander Reville. Tension was in the air and finally manifested itself in a mid-rink slug fest with an unclear winner. After wrestling each other to the ground, they were led to the penalty boxes with four-minute majors for roughing and 10-minute game misconducts.

The Pioneers added another goal at around the 17:30 mark courtesy of Austin Mikesch to make this a 3-0 advantage for Portage Lake.

Calumet avoided the shutout with their first goal late into the second. Scotty Loukus found the back of the net to make it 3-1. However they could not stop Portage Lake’s momentum as the Pioneers Bostwick scored at the 12:30 mark and Nick Harris got his second with five minutes to go in period number two.

Pioneers’ forward Tyler Bailey summed up the first 40 minutes best.

He said, “We had pressure on them all night, and we did not give them a step or jump on us.”

It was now a 5-1 game to start the third. However that changed at the 7:05 mark of the third. The Wolverines were on the power play and took advantage of the man up as they worked the puck around. Dylan Boberg saw light and poked one in past Pioneer goalie Aaron Petrulis.

Less than a minute later the Wolverines made a 5-3 game courtesy of Carson Kariniemi’s quick score in front of the net.

With two quick goals and now just a two-point differential, goalie Petrulis knew he couldn’t let another one in.

“I wasn’t nervous as much as I knew I had to step up my game and shut them down,” he said.

He did just that as this one ended 5-3 despite the Wolverines pulling their goalie and adding the sixth attacker in the last two minutes.

According to veteran Wolverine Mike Babcock, Friday’s loss was a tough one and unfortunately characteristic of an even more frustrating season on the ice.

“We lost too many games,” he said. “However, on the bright side, we did see the growth and development of some of our younger players. That led to a tighter locker room. Everyone is close and has each other’s backs -that hasn’t always been the case.”

He added,” Hats off to Portage Lake. They play hard, smart and are incredibly confident in themselves. They are also as deep as any team I’ve seen in years. Despite missing players they have guys who can step up and do a good job on the ice.”


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