Ice cold revenge for Esky

By John Vrancic

Daily Press

WELLS – Facing an opponent that beat you earlier in the season can be a great motivator for any team.

Escanaba made the most of its second chance against Calumet Friday night as it skated to a 7-3 hockey victory over the Copper Kings at the Wells Sports Complex.

The Copper Kings topped Esky 5-2 in the first meeting Jan. 12 at the Calumet Armory.

“Our guys really wanted this one,” said Esky coach Tim McCarthy. “We talked about our game on Tuesday (a 7-5 victory over Kingsford in Iron Mountain). We didn’t come out with a great deal of fire up there. But the guys were ready to play tonight. We made some beautiful plays in the first period.”

The Eskymos (19-3) needed just 32 seconds to get on the board as Levi Wunder scored from the low slot on a pass from Nick Vandermissen.

“That always helps,” said McCarthy. “We’ve been fortunate enough to score a lot of early goals this season.”

Steve Wood gave Esky a two-goal cushion as his shot from the low slot trickled past Calumet goaltender Troy Pierce at 5:12.

Wunder then raised the count to 3-0 from the slot at 13:53 on a pass from Derek Chaillier.

The Eskymos outshot Calumet 17-4 through the opening 17 minutes.

“I don’t think we could have come out any flatter,” said Calumet coach Jim Crawford. “We were just so bad in the first period and Escanaba played pretty darn good. We just weren’t as sharp as we were in the first meeting. When you’re not working and skating hard, things aren’t going to happen for you.”

Esky added a pair of goals 22 seconds apart late in the second stanza, with Jake Eastin scoring on a breakaway and Wood adding its fifth goal from the doorstep.

The Copper Kings, however, showed they can be dangerous even when facing a five-goal deficit as Reilly Schreiber put them on the board with a shot from the left faceoff circle with 1:24 left in the second frame. Brendan Jacques then made it 5-2 just 55 seconds later on a breakaway.

“Calumet is always dangerous,” said McCarthy. “We had little bit of a letdown at the end of the second period. We got caught roaming around in our zone and they took advantage of that and got a couple goals. In the locker room, we told the kids not to panic and they kept their foot on the gas and put a lot of pressure on them.”

The Eskymos hiked their advantage to 6-2 on Eastin’s second goal from the slot 2:42 into the third frame.

Lucas Lahnala, however, trimmed Calumet’s deficit to 6-3 from the left faceoff circle at 6:34.

“Had we been able to score our third goal right away in the third period, panic may have started to set in a little for them,” said Crawford. “But give them credit. They got the early goal in the third. Escanaba has a nice hockey team. This is one of the better teams they’ve had. They could go a long way in the playoffs.”

Wunder completed his hat trick from the slot on Vandermissen’s playmaker assist with less than six minutes left to play.

“Nick (Vandermissen) did a wonderful job setting up scoring chances for our other guys tonight,” said McCarthy. “I thought their goaltender did a nice job. We were disciplined and patient and made him (Pierce) move around a little.”

Esky outshot the Copper Kings 33-21. Eskymos goaltender Nick LeMire stopped 18 shots and Pierce had 26 saves.

The Eskymos host Hancock today at 1. Calumet concludes its regular season by hosting Marquette Thursday.