Esky icers wear down Kingsford

IRON MOUNTAIN – Kingsford, playing for a fourth time in five days, suffered a 7-5 Great Lakes Hockey Conference setback to Escanaba, which played for the fourth time in six days Tuesday evening at Mountain View Ice Arena in what was a tightly fought contest.

“We had our chances,” Flivvers coach Jim Peterson said. “I thought we played a real good game.”

A blast by Escanaba’s Steve Wood that deflected off a Flivver shin or foot broke a 4-4 tie in the final minute of the second period, and Escanaba (18-3) never trailed again.

Jake Eastin and Ben Lesecki added goals about a minute and a half apart in the middle of the third to officially put away the Flivvers. Eastin’s tally came on a 2-on-1 break while Lesecki’s was another odd deflection off a Flivver defender.

“We started settling down,” Escanaba coach Tim McCarthy said. “We got too sloppy in the first two periods.

“Kingsford has a nice team. They moved the puck well. When they got a couple on us we got down on ourselves. We finally buckled down in that third period.”

Esky led 2-0 just seven minutes into the contest thanks to goals by Derek Chaillier and TJ Myrick. Chaillier put one top shelf from the slot on the game’s first power play. Myrick, camped out alone in front Flivver goalie Wes Paupore, poked his through at 4:15.

But Kingsford roared back with two of their own in the span of a minute.

Marcus Andrews deflected one that fluttered over the right shoulder of Esky netminder Nick LeMire a few seconds after a faceoff in the Esky zone. Alex Wiitanen then followed up his own shot with a backhanded swat to knock the puck in from mid air for Kingsford’s second marker.

Ted Pietila put Kingsford up 3-2 near the end of a 5-on-3 advantage with a nifty flip from in close over LeMire to the far corner of the net at 13:17.

The Flivvers’ lead last just a few minutes though, as Escanaba added two more before the first frame ended.

Levi Wunder cashed in a power play chance by smashing in a rebound that stuck near the corner of the net. He then set up Nick Vandermissen with just 42 seconds left in the frame.

Kingsford drew even again at 7:09 of the second when Nick Brule sped in a short-handed and beat LeMire up high.

The game stayed tied until Wood’s go-ahead tally with 27 seconds left in the period.

Kingsford had two power play chances early in the third but couldn’t convert, Esky’s penalty killers doing just enough to disrupt the puck.

“We’ve done quite well (on the penalty kill) all year,” McCarthy said. “It wasn’t our best game, and we have some things to work on, but our kids battled.”

Following the kills, Esky’s speed became too much for the fatigued Flivvers, leading to the chances that turned into two insurance markers.

Ted Pietila tapped in Kingsford’s final goal, off a rebound of shot by Reid Pietila with two minutes left in the game.

Despite 12 goals in the game, both goalies put on impressive displays throughout. LeMire stopped 32 shots, while Paupore saved 42, making some terrific denials on several second and even third chance attempts.

“Wes did a nice job in net for them,” McCarthy said.

“Their goalie played great,” Peterson said. “Wes played a great game too. I was pleased with the way we played and we look forward to seeing them again.”

Kingsford (9-10, 3-3 GLC) plays at Jeffers Friday.