HOUGHTON - Given a chance to rest and regroup after an iffy first period, Houghton hit hard from then on out, pushing past Traverse City West 5-3 Friday night at Dee Stadium to win the first game of the Rick Miller Memorial.
"I just felt that we got outcompeted in the first period. I thought Traverse City West came out and competed really hard, they were more physical than us and they wanted it a little bit more than we did in the first period. We had to change that," Houghton coach Corey Markham said. "From that point on, I thought we started competing a lot harder, we started finishing checks, and the tide changed where we were controlling, had a lot of opportunities."
The Gremlins looked good out of the gate, scoring just 23 seconds into their first power play through Ray Brice from in close.
Houghton’s Cale Markham celebrates his second-period goal, his first of the season, which tied Friday’s Rick Miller Memorial game against Traverse City West at 2 Friday at Dee Stadium in Houghton. The?Gremlins went on to the 5-3 victory. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
However, the rest of the period left much to be desired for the hosts, including back-to-back deflection goals from West's Daniel Henderson, who was allowed to set up camp in front of Houghton goalie Marcus Gloss.
After going into the locker room down 2-1 and outshot 11-9, the Gremlins got after it in the second, forechecking relentlessly and taking territorial control. They got even at the 5:33 mark when Cale Markham buried a loose puck in the slot.
"We were real effective forechecking. It was just getting on our toes and getting there with speed and forcing the first guy to make a quick decision. The first period, we didn't do that, the second period, our first forechecker was getting on top of their guy much better and made quicker decisions and with that, we were able to create some turnovers and create some offense," coach Markham said.
TC West2 0 1 - 3
Houghton1 2 2 - 5
First period - 1, HOU, Ray Brice 6 (Casey Markham, Connor Hannon), 2:58 (PP); 2, TCW, Daniel Henderson (Keeler Steele, Ryan Basel), 4:31; 3, TCW, Henderson (Jake Saxton) 14:34 (PP).
Second period - 4, HOU, Cale Markham 1 (Austin Erva), 5:33; 5, HOU, Jed Kallio 2 (Hannon, Tristan Foltz), 15:41.
Third period - 6, HOU, Kallio 3 (Brice, Davis Farrey), 4:30; 7, TCW, Saxton (unassisted), 8:42; 8, HOU, Brice 7 (Casey Markham), 9:15.
Power-play opportunities - West, 1-for-4; Houghton 1-for-4.
Penalties - TCW 5/10; HOU 5/10
Goalie saves - TCW, Carter Edmondson 34 (8-15-11); HOU, Marcus Gloss 16 (9-5-2).
The pressure didn't turn into a go-ahead goal for a while, however. Ten minutes passed until Connor Hannon got to a puck in deep and flashed it to the stick of Jed Kallio for a 3-2 lead with 1:19 left in the frame.
Houghton now had pressure and momentum and turned it into an insurance goal early in the third. Kallio took a feed from Brice and wired it to the top shelf for a 4-2 lead at 4:30.
"For Jed, he has a tremendous shot. He gets it and when he gets rid of it quick, it's real lethal. He really has a knack for that," coach Markham said.
Houghton needed the insurance after a puck off a shin pad went behind Gloss. The Titan goal was credited to Jake Saxton at 8:42.
Brice closed the door with his second of the night just 33 seconds later. He followed the rush in and after Casey Markham's first shot was unsuccessful, tipped it over the line before Titan goalie Carter Edmonson could get to the loose puck.
"We had a lot of energy in the first. They obviously made some adjustments between first and second and we got a little bit scrambly in our defensive zone. We've got a lot of young guys and some of them panicked a little bit and then we weren't able to ever regain that momentum we had in the first," said Titan coach Jeremy Rintala, a Houghton alum.
After their 11-shot first period, the Titans had just eight in the next two periods combined.
"They had us bottled up and we weren't making the plays that we needed to. We started to just throw the puck around rather than try to make tape-to-tape passes, or if we had to, dump it out. And it cost us," Rintala said.
Gloss stopped 16 shots for the Gremlins (3-0), while Edmondson made 34 saves for West. Both teams cross the Portage Lake Lift Bridge for tomorrow's Miller Memorial games at Houghton County Arena in Hancock: West at Hancock at 1 p.m., followed by Central vs. Houghton at 3.