It may not have been the prettiest of games, but the Alpena hockey team will take it.
In a game that was bogged down by penalties, the Wildcats got out to a 3-0 lead and held off Cadillac late in the game to win 4-2 in their Big North Conference opener Friday at Northern Lights Arena.
More than two dozen penalties were handed out, which included a pair of game misconducts-to Zach Nash and Brad Lorenz- and a pair of game disqualifications to two other Alpena players.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Jared Kwiatkowski (5) takes a pass from teammate Zack Kendziorski during the second period of a hockey game on Friday at Northern Lights Arena.
The Wildcats (4-0) spent a good portion of the opening period shorthanded and were outshot 34-17 for the game, but scored when they had to to come away with a win.
"In my opinion it wasn't that physical. It was called so tightly that it looked physical I suppose," Alpena coach Pete Doubek said. "We like to play a way more physical style of hockey and it was so tight, it was hard to figure out how far to go with the physicality part of it."
Cole Cosbitt scored twice for Alpena and Karsten Alexander and Sam Rumbles each had a single tally. Bret LeTourneau made 15 saves in net.
The Wildcats took four penalties in the opening frame including a check from behind penalty to Nash just 1:35 into the game that earned him a game misconduct. Alpena clamped down on the penalty kill and took a 1-0 lead with just over seven minutes left when Alexander scored with an assist from Joey Bracken.
Less than two minutes into the second period, Cosbitt put Alpena up by two after he picked up the puck on a pass across the slot. Bracken and Rumbles earned assists.
Cosbitt put Alpena ahead by three, with 6:24 left in the frame with Rumbles and Jared Kwiatkowski earning the helpers.
Cosbitt credited his teammates' strong play with setting up his two goals.
"I couldn't do much without my teammates and it was a great team effort," Cosbitt said. "We had a lot of difficulty starting off the game, but we came together as a team and started scoring goals and made things happen."
The Wildcats took another hit late in the period when Lorenz was given a game misconduct. He and Nash will miss Alpena's next two games.
Cadillac got on the board with 1:36 left in the frame after a goal from Spencer Graham. Graham lit the lamp again with eight minutes to play in the third period, lifting a shot over LeTourneau's shoulder.
Doubek praised LeTourneau, who came up with several huge stops to keep the Wildcats out front.
"We were short-handed, it felt like the whole game," Doubek said. "Bret played stellar. He controlled rebounds. Cadillac was sitting right on his doorstep the whole game and I don't think he lost focus for too long out there at all."
Despite several Cadillac penalties in the second period, the Wildcats were unable to capitalize. Alpena began the third period with 1:11 of a 5-on-3 advantage, but wasn't able to find the back of the net.
Alpena spent most of the final period on the penalty kill again and Cadillac eventually took advantage with Graham's second tally. The physical play continued with several other misconduct penalties handed out before the end of the period.
The Vikings nearly tied the game with a minute left, but the net dislodged and the goal was disallowed.
Shane Dawson took a late penalty for Alpena, leaving the Wildcats shorthanded for the final minute, but Rumbles iced the game for Alpena with an empty-net goal.
Doubek was happy to see the Wildcats get a win and was especially pleased with the way players stepped up after Nash and Lorenz were sent off.
"The kids were fired up in the locker room. I got good games out of a lot of kids. It's nice," Doubek said. "You don't want to lose your guys to the DQs but the other players stepped up and filled the void so to speak."