The Alpena High School hockey team lost two out of three games last year against Cheboygan, but the Wildcats made up for it with a 7-2 win over the Chiefs on Tuesday at Northern Lights Arena.
The Wildcats (3-0) took command of the game 16 seconds in when Jared Kwiatkowski scored the first goal of a hat trick. His second goal came at 13:54 left in the period and the third at 1:46. Kwiatkowski was assisted by Sam Rumbles and Zach Nash on the first two and by Nash on the third.
Kwiatkowski attributed his hat trick to the fact he just kept shooting.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Alpena’s Cole Cosbitt (16) takes a shot on the goal as a Cheboygan defender watches. Alpena beat the Chiefs 7-2 on Tuesday at Northern Lights Arena.
"It feels great to come out like that. I just came at the net hard and kept shooting the puck to see where it would end up," he said.
The Wildcats maintained control of the first period in spite of Cheboygan's increased pressure. The Chiefs were handicapped by their inability to capitalize on the power play. About halfway through the period, the Wildcats had two men in the penalty box for a minute, giving Cheboygan a 5-on-3 advantage. The Wildcats successfully killed the penalties to come back to full strength.
At the end of the period, with 37.3 left on the clock, Rumbles was driving towards the goal when he collided with Chiefs' goalie who fell to the ice and stayed down. After about five minutes, he stood up and walked off the ice. The decision was made to add the remaining time to the second period.
Cheboygan came out strongly in the second period, scoring 25 seconds into the period off the stick of Austin Christie. Christie was assisted by John Grantner and Adam Jeannotte.
The Chiefs played more successfully against the Wildcats during this period, but were unable to capitalize on two Alpena penalties. The Wildcats were also unsuccessful in converting on the power play, but scored with 15:22 left in the period. Nash scored with an assist by Rumbles to bring the game to 4-1.
The Chiefs answered back at12:49 left in the period with their second goal of the night. Once again, Christie scored with an assist by Granter.
The teams then played to a defensive standstill until Rumbles scored his first goal of the night with an assist by Jensen Saddler with about five minutes left in the period to help Alpena pull ahead 5-2.
Less than two minutes later, Karsten Alexander scored with an assist by Tait Froggett and Kam Russell.
The third period was a much more defensive-oriented period. Cheboygan continued to fight but couldn't capitalize on offensive chances.
A big reason the Chiefs were unsuccessful was the goaltending by Jesse Boilore. There were a few moments when he caught the puck out of the air with his hand to stop Chiefs drives dead in their tracks. He ended up with more than 20 saves on the night.
The Wildcats final goal of the night came off the stick of Rumbles with 6:56 left to play. He was assisted by Nash and Kwiatkowski.
Rumbles commented on his team's success at the end of the game.
"We're getting better and better. All the lines are working together really well. We just keep going up and up," he said.
Coach Pete Doubek was once again pleased by the teamwork he saw his team showcase in their victory.
"It was great to see such unselfish passing from the boys. I really have to praise them for that unselfish kind of play, where they pass it often and open up big chances to score," he said.
Alpena hosts Cadillac next Friday at the Northern Lights Arena at 7 p.m.