The dog days of February caught up with the Alpena hockey team on Monday.
Playing their third game in four nights, the Wildcats fell behind to Traverse City Central 3-1 after the first period and spent the rest of the game playing catch-up, ultimately losing 6-3 at Northern Lights Arena.
Zach Nash scored twice for Alpena (7-9-1) and Joey Bracken added a goal.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Cole Cosbitt (in white) battles Traverse City’s Central’s Mitchell Ward behind the net during the first period of a hockey game at Northern Lights Arena on Monday.
Nash needed just 33 seconds to get on the board, poking the puck through for a goal to give Alpena an early 1-0 lead.
From there the game belonged to the Trojans, who got goals from Mitchell Ward, Alex Oliver and Nico Saco in a span of just over 12 minutes to end the period with a 3-1 lead.
Central outshot Alpena 14-7 in the opening frame and threw more than 40 shots at Alpena netminders Jesse Boilore and Bret LeTourneau.
"We ended up spending too much time in our defensive zone. We weren't clearing the puck, winning battles, little things like that," Alpena coach Pete Doubek said.
Central struck three times on the power-play and later in the game, Alpena had a lot of trouble staying out the penalty box.
Alpena will try to rebound on Wednesday as it takes on Sault Ste. Marie at 7 p.m. at Northern Lights Arena.
Doubek is confident his team will respond well if the Wildcats can avoid taking penalties.
"The kids know what to do. We've just got to have some energy to do it," Doubek said. "We've got to stay out of the penalty box."
Wednesday's game will mark the end of a tough slate for Alpena, which Doubek hopes will serve the Wildcats well as playoff time draws nearer.
"We're playing our four toughest games right now. As long as we can be competitive, it will help us down the line," Doubek said.