HOUGHTON - It was classic early season high school hockey at Dee Stadium Saturday for round two of the Joe Bukovich Classic.
There was energy, goals galore and plenty of coachable moments for the coming weeks. Houghton completed a weekend sweep with a 5-2 victory over Gaylord, while Jeffers went 1-1 in the "Joe Buck" with a 7-2 loss to Rochester United.
Both coaches, Houghton's Corey Markham and Jeffers' David Bekkala, saw play they liked and mistakes to work on Saturday.
Houghton’s Jed Kallio gets in close to Gaylord goaltender Peter Lawton during a second period power play Saturday during the Joe Bukovich Classic at Dee?Stadium. While denied there, Kallio scored in the second period. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
"Anyway you come away with two wins you call that successful," Markham said. "In today's game I thought we might score a few more goals going in, and I just didn't think we were making plays right away, it was a bit sloppy. But we worked hard and held a territorial advantage. I just think we need to make some more plays as a unit going forward."
The Gremlins outshot Gaylord 44-9 but didn't fully secure the victory until the middle of the third period.
It took a shorthanded goal from junior forward Raymond Brice, who forced a turnover in the neutral zone before converting with a pretty deke of Gaylord goaltender Peter Lawton, for Houghton to put the game out of reach.
Gaylord 0 1 1 - 2
Houghton 2 1 2 - 5
First period - 1, HOU, Raymond Brice (Jonathan Bostwick, Casey Markham) 14:29; 2, HOU, Jed Kallio (Connor Hannon), 16:00.
Second period - 3, GAY, Anthony Tomaski (Mitchell Lawton, Seth Muzyl), 8:10; 4, HOU, Hannon (Hunter Rajala), 16:31.
Third period - 5, HOU, Brice, 7:53; 6, GAY, Muzyl (Lawton), 14:57; 7, HOU, Cole Hagwell (Luke Haataja), 11:53.
Penalties - Gaylord 6-12; Houghton 4-8.
Goalie saves - Gaylord, Peter Lawton 39 (10-17-12); Houghton, Jayson Wiitala 7 (4-1-2).
Rochester United 1 3 3 - 7
Jeffers 0 2 0 - 2
First period - 1, RU, Michael Pelino, 8:12.
Second period - 2, RU, Kevin Kurzeja, 4:31; 3, JEF, Travis Wesa (Mitchel Kumpula), 6:52; 4, RU, Nick Marek (Max Harper), 10:07; 5, JEF, Wesa (Ross Michaels, Tylor Rickard), 15:00; 6, RU, Pelino (Ryan Bradley), 16:36.
Third period - 7, RU, Harper (Marek, Pelino), 3:24; 8, RU, Jimmy Pittel (Frank Scheff, Evan Asuncion), 3:45; 9, RU, Marek (Pittel), 13:33.
Penalties - Rochester United 5-10; Jeffers 3-6.
Goalie saves - Rochester United, Brody Blair 16 (7-3-6); Jeffers, Dax Durocher 19 (4-7-8).
Lawton came through with 39 saves for the contest, many of which came on a nearly six-minute stretch of uninterrupted power play in the second period that Houghton was unable to cash in on.
"We would get it too tight to the net and we wouldn't have anywhere to go with the puck or we would overhandle the puck and lose it," Markham said. "It was just minor things that weren't clicking. We will work on it."
When the Gremlins did light the lamp, however, they did so in style.
Brice scored his first of the game with the man-advantage after sophomore forward Jonathan Bostwick freed him with a slick wrap around the net.
Connor Hannon and Jed Kallio then combined to increase the lead 90 seconds later when Hannon fired a quick pass from the endline to a waiting Kallio on the doorstep.
Hannon put one away himself with less than 30 seconds to play in the second frame when he poked in a puck Lawton didn't fully control.
"Connor has great hockey sense," Markham said. "He sees plays before they happen. And that's what happened there. Jed in that instance was in the right place in front of the net.
"They are going to have opportunities every game. That is where their talent level is at."
Senior Cole Hagwell capped the scoring for Houghton with a solid wrist snipe from the circle that beat Lawton top-shelf in the third period.
"Nice to see Cole Hagwell get his first high school goal tonight," Markham said. "It was a real nice shot. Had patience and put it in the top corner. A real good goal."
For the Jets, Rochester United had them on their heels early with an aggressive pursuit of the puck.
Jeffers gave up an early lead when RU forward Michael Pelino ripped a slap shot to beat Jets goalie Dax Durocher shorthanded.
"We knew they were good, there was no mystery that they were good," Bekkala said. "I feel like we came out really flat."
The Jets pushed back after the shaky first period, however, getting a pair of goals from returning leading scorer Travis Wesa.
On the first, Wesa put a hard slap shot on net that took a deflection off a defenseman to bounce in. The senior forward then buried a snap shot from the circle after some excellent puck movement on the power play.
"He has been doing it now for quite a few years," Bekkala said. "He is a player. We need all of them, but we are counting on Travis and he generates some offense."
Both goals cut the deficit for Jeffers to one.
But right as it seemed the Jets had forced even play in the game, a mistake undid them. RU was able to score three minutes after Wesa's initial tally thanks to a power play as a result from a needless roughing penalty.
Rochester then scored another with less than 30 seconds left in the second period when an aggressive turnover at the blue line led to a 2-v.-1 odd-man rush executed flawlessly.
"We talked about it (Friday) night, at times we have to combine our energy with playing smart," Bekkala said. "The defense gave up a couple of cheap opportunities when I thought the momentum was going our way. We definitely had a couple of situations where we lost some of our focus and the momentum."