Flood gates open for Esky snipers

WELLS – Escanaba got into a rhythm late and the flood gates opened as they used five third period goals to skate past Kingsford 8-2 on Tuesday night at the Wells Sports Complex.

Eskymos head coach Matt Hughes said his team progressed as the contest went on.

“I thought we definitely improved throughout the game, I thought we came out a little flat,” Hughes said. “We weren’t moving our feet, we weren’t being physical and that gradually got better throughout the course of the game and it showed in the third period.”

Escanaba took a 3-1 lead into the third period but Kingsford’s Brien Johnson scored on a shot that hit the boards and bounced in front of Eskymo goalie Jack Valentine with 15:21 left to play, cutting Escanaba’s lead to 3-2.

It appeared that momentum was shifting in the Flivvers favor as Escanaba’s Steve Wood was assessed a two minute penalty 18 seconds after Valentine’s goal. Instead, the Eskymos stifled Kingsford on the penalty kill and Charlie Zuidema scored less than two minutes later off a Steve Wood assist that put Escanaba ahead 4-2 with 11:29 remaining.

“The kids fought hard and killed that penalty off and then we got to work and that’s important in the game of Hockey,” Hughes said. “You have to have strong shifts right after your power play or penalty kill to keep that momentum going or change that momentum.”

The Eskymos kept the momentum going as they scored five unanswered goals to close out the game. Derek Chaillier scored on a give-and-go with Levi Wunder to put the Eskymos ahead 5-2. Kingsford head coach Jim Peterson said his team stuck with Escanaba but couldn’t match their late burst.

“They out-shot us of course but we still hung with them,” Peterson said. “That period they turned it up a notch and their quickness showed. We’re slow to recognize. Once we start getting tired we’re not quick enough to recognize situations and that’s when they start putting it to us. They’re a good team, give them credit.”

Kingsford stuck with Escanaba despite being out-shot 21-7 through two periods. Escanaba finished the game with a 43-14 shots-on-goal advantage. Peterson said lack of shots, not effort, hurt the Flivvers.

“We’re not really disappointed with our effort, the kids didn’t quit but they have to keep working on supporting the puck and getting pucks on the net,” he said. We still don’t get enough shots. Our goalie keeps us in it, he made some nice saves but we can’t keep giving them quality opportunities.”

Wunder scored a goal 7:59 into the third period to put Escanaba ahead 6-2. T.J. Myrick foud the net with 3:03 left and Steve Wood rounded out the Eskymos scoring with 35 seconds left, completing the hat trick with his third goal of the game.

“Steve played great, he was all over the ice and he happened to find the puck on his stick a lot and capitalized on his opportunities,” Hughes said.

Chaillier got the Eskymos on the board first as he found the back of the net less than two minutes into the game. Kingsford’s Jacob Stoner went top shelf to tie the game at 1-1 with 8:16 left in the opening period. That was the last time the game was tied as Wood scored on a power play goal, assisted from Chaillier and Wunder with 5:52 left in the first period.

Kingsford, who has lost nine straight games, drops to 2-9. Escanaba improves to 10-4-2 overall and 7-2 in the Great Lakes Conference. The Eskymos are back on the ice this Tuesday as they host Negaunee.