It's not how you start, it's how you finish.
That was the case on Saturday at Northern Lights Arena for the Alpena hockey team. The Wildcats held a 2-0 lead over Petoskey entering the third period, but watched the Northmen tie the game in a matter of minutes and ultimately skated to a 2-2 tie.
Cade MacArthur and Matthew Tucker each scored for Alpena (2-4-1, 0-1-1 Big North), but the tie means the Wildcats remain winless in their last five games, three of which have gone into overtime.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Cade MacArthur (19) shoots on Petoskey goaltender Michael Whittaker during the second period of a game on Saturday at Northern Lights Arena. MacArthur scored on the play after putting a rebound past Whittaker to give Alpena a 1-0 lead.
The Wildcats did everything they could to score in the third period and in overtime, throwing 46 total shots at Petoskey netminder Michael Whittaker.
But too many times, Whittaker came up with a stop at a crucial time and too many times Alpena was just of position to snatch up rebounds for second chances.
"We came out and we were skating hard, doing everything we could do, we just have to get better shots on net, better scoring opportunities, more open shots," MacArthur said. "We got a lot of shots on him, but we've got to start picking corners and finding the back of the net."
Alpena swarmed the net in the opening minutes of the second period, but couldn't come up with rebounds or came up just short on other attempts.
After Cole Cosbitt took a roughing penalty with 11:47 left in the frame, MacArthur broke a scoreless deadlock with a shorthanded goal with 10:16 remaining.
MacArthur raced up the ice with a Petoskey defender sticking right with him. MacArthur shrugged off the defender and fired a shot at Whittaker before grabbing his own rebound to light the lamp.
"Joey was going to ice it so I just yelled over to him, he slapped it to me, I had one guy to beat and I got around him, made a move on the goalie and scored," MacArthur said. "I guess I kind of got my own rebound. It trickled up in the air and I batted it in from the air."
Tucker put Alpena up by two goals with 49 seconds left in the frame, banging in a rebound after the puck trickled out of Whittaker's glove.
Petoskey managed 24 shots on goal for the game, almost half of Alpena's total, but the Northmen made the most of their opportunities.
At the 3:42 mark, Nick Gadowski put a shot past Alpena goalie Jesse Boilore to cut Alpena's lead to one. Petoskey struck again just 1:36 later, Gadowski scored again, connecting this time on the power-play when his shot bounced off Boilore's glove.
The Wildcats kept chipping away at Whittaker as regulation time wound down. With 2:37 left, Alpena nearly netted the game winner, but a Petoskey player slid into Whittaker, knocking the net loose as Alpena tried to knock in the loose puck.
After Petoskey took a penalty with 1:43 left, Whittaker came up big again for the Northmen making three big steps in a 20-second span to keep the game tied.
Alpena ran into some bad luck when Boilore went down with an injury with 2:06 left, having made 16 saves. His replacement Jay Dutcher was stellar in relief, coming up with several key saves for the Wildcats especially early in overtime when Alpena was whistled for a tripping penalty.
Alpena's last good chance came early in overtime when Bracken skated in with Zack Kendziorski on a shorthanded 2-on-1 chance that went wide of the net.
Alpena coach Pete Doubek liked his team's intensity early on, but said one pitfall of his young team is that frustration sets in if goals aren't scored early.
"We just have to finish. We work on tip-ins and stuff like that, just getting to those dirty areas on the ice right in front of the net," Doubek said. "Not the way you want to end it, but you build on it."
Alpena hosts the Traverse Bay Reps on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
James Andersen can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.