Every time Hayden Ray touched the puck against the Alpena hockey team on Friday night he found a way to hurt the Wildcats.
Saginaw Tri-Valley's senior forward scored five times and tallied seven points as the Titans throttled Alpena 7-1 in the opening game of the Blue Line Tournament at Northern Lights Arena.
Ray completed a hat trick in the third period, but also scored a natural hat trick during the frame. His final goal of the night came with 2:28 left when his shot up high sailed past Alpena goaltender Jesse Boilore's outstretched glove.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Jared Kwiatkowski (5) scores a goal on Saginaw Tri-Valley goaltender Kevin Dwyer during the second period of a hockey game on Friday at Northern Lights Arena. Kwiatkowski scored Alpena’s only goal as the Wildcats lost 7-1 in the opening game of the Blue Line Tournament.
Ray was named the Titans' MVP of the game.
Alpena will play the loser of Friday's game between Walled Lake Western and Bay City today at 1 p.m. in the consolation game while Tri-Valley will play the winner at 3 p.m. in the championship game.
For the majority of the contest, Alpena kept pace with Tri-Valley in shots on goal, but was undone by a rash of penalties that left them playing shorthanded for a good chunk of the game.
Blue Line Tournament Results
Saginaw Tri-Valley 7, Alpena 1
Walled Lake Western vs. Bay City, inc
Consolation Game: Alpena vs. Walled Lake Western/Bay City loser, 1 p.m.
Championship Game: Tri-Valley vs. Walled Lake /Bay City winner, 3 p.m.
Alpena coach Pete Doubek stressed before the game that the Wildcats needed to stay of the penalty box and said his team fell apart as their deficit grew.
"It's just one of those funky things where we came out flat, just not as a team," Doubek said. "That's what we talked about in the locker room after the game: we know the kids can play as a team, but when things went south we tried to do everything (individually). That was the collapse."
The Wildcats began the third period on the penalty kill after a late second-period boarding call to Jared Kwiatkowski. With 35 seconds left on the power-play and just 1:20 into the frame, Brian Fisk took a pass in the slot and beat Boilore to give the Titans a 3-1 lead.
With just over six minutes gone, Garrett Culver stole the puck from Alpena's Sawyer Hein and raced up ice, passing the puck across the slot to Ray, who buried a shot to complete his hat trick. He followed with goals with 7:39 left and with 2:28 to play.
Fisk added his second goal of the night after Jared Plume took concurrent boarding and unsportmansmanlike conduct penalties with 1:14 left.
Although Alpena was only outshot 34-27 for the game, Doubek said many of his team's chances weren't as good as the ones the Titans got on Boilore.
"Ours were not super high-quality shots. We didn't get a lot of traffic and a lot of rebounds, which we've been stressing," Doubek said. "They were swarming our net. All their shots were in a tight spot, right in the wheelhouse."
Titans' goaltender Kevin Dwyer finished with 26 saves for the game.
Ray gave the Titans a 1-0 lead with just under six minutes gone in the first period, beating Boilore up high.
Alpena outshot the Titans 12-7 in the opening frame despite having to kill off a nearly two-minute five-on-three advantage for Tri-Valley.
Ray added his second goal of the night with 40 seconds left in the first stanza, giving the Titans a 2-0 lead at the break.
Alpena answered early in the second period when Kwiatkowski took a stretch pass and poked the puck past Dwyer with just 1:19 gone from the frame.
The Wildcats had a few chances to net the equalizer, but were hindered again by two penalties in the final 3:14 of the frame.
Doubek is hopeful that the Wildcats can regroup quickly for today's game. Alpena has dropped its last three games and despite having some players return to the lineup, Doubek said it will take time for them to get back into the swing of things.
"It's a little bit embarrassing to get beat that badly on the scoreboard, but refocus and go back to that energy that we came out with at the beginning of the year," Doubek said. "Our players that have been out, it's good to get them back, but it's going to take time."
Hein was chosen as Alpena's MVP of the game.
Alpena honored two longtime supporters of its program at the game. Before the game a moment of silence was held in honor of longtime announcer Jerry LaFave who passed away on Christmas Eve.
Longtime assistant coach Tom Sommerfeld was also honored for his more than 30 years of service to the program during the first intermission. He thanked past coaches and assistants during his speech and talked about the support the hockey program has received through the years, especially when the Wildcats played at Mich-e-ke-wis Sports Park.
"We thought we had our Olympia in Alpena. "We had some of the best ice in Michigan," Sommerfeld said before leading the crowd in the A-L-P-E-N-A chant.