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Every time the Houghton Gremlins hockey team took a lead Tuesday night at Dee Stadium, the Calumet Copper Kings had an answer. Eventually, the Copper Kings took the lead for good, and held onto that advantage, winning 5-2.
Landon Johnson scored what held as the game-winning goal 4:53 into the third period.
Copper Kings coach Dan Giachino liked the depth in his team’s lines throughout the night to come away with the win.
“I thought we played a solid hokey game from the beginning until the end,” he said “We’ve got a lot of depth (and) play well in the offensive zone. Ultimately what we wanted to do (Tuesday) is just wear them down in the first two periods and hope (that) the third period was going to seperate us out a little bit.”
The Gremlins and Copper Kings had an evenly-matched first period that saw the Gremlins twice take one-goal leads. Junior Ty Halonen scored the game’s opening goal just 5:55 into the contest.
Copper Kings junior Alex Mattila evened things at 1-1 off a feed from senior Sam Erkkila at 10:30. Junior Nick Djerf also assisted on the goal.
The Gremlins regained the lead when Johnson fell over, creating space. Erickson and senior Brad Gauthier combined on a quick-pass-and-shoot play at 16:16.
That was Houghton’s final goal of the night, despite a good start to the third period.
Gremlins coach Corey Markham saw the first period as even, but then felt the Copper Kings gained momentum and held it for the rest of the contest.
“I thought it was a very evenly-played first period,” Markham said. “We ended up with a lead of 2-1 after a very good individual play (and) a highlight-reel goal by Brad Gauthier to give us a 2-1 lead.
“(In) the second period, I thought they outworked (and) controlled us with a great majority of the play. They tied up the game. We had one off the post, which was big at the time. They definitely had a lot more opportunities in the second period.”
Anderson evened the game in the middle frame, helping spark the Copper Kings’ momentum.
“We had a good start to the third period but their third goal was a seeing eye goal from the point,”Markham said. “It was a cut through traffic and was a big goal for them, to give them the lead and gave them energy.
“We weren’t able to get a good push and weren’t able to get many opportunities after that in the third period.”
Strong offensive zone coverage is what separated the two teams in the second and third periods of play for the Copper Kings.
“I think in the second period we started taking over,” Giachino said. “The first period was 50-50. In the second period, we started taking over a little bit of zone time. With our guys, (if) we get that much zone time, we’re going to generate some scoring chances. We were fortunate enough to do that as we got later in the second and into the third.”
Senior Sam Erkkila and sophomore Seth Coppo assisted Johnson’s game-winner.
The Copper Kings struck for their fourth of the night when sophomore Dean Loukus converted a pass from from Djerf 6:28 later.
Giachino liked seeing a good team effort, including Sam Erkkila returning.
“I thought we had an excellent team effort tonight,” said Giachino. “It was really nice (that) we got Sam Erkkila back in the lineup tonight. I thought he gave us a big jolt and played very good offensively (and) defensively, so it was nice to have him in the lineup. He’s been out for the last few games.
“I just thought we played solid all the way through.”
These two teams will see each other again in 10 days, both already have a game plan in mind.
“We’ve got to face these guys again in 10 days,” said Giachino. “We’ve got work to do to get better (and) have some things to clean up, some places where I think we could improve and we’ll try to go after them again in 10 days.”
“We’re just going to have to get into a little big better shape and just be ready to play because there’s nothing outrageous,” Markham said. “We’ll have some game plan we’ll have to come up with, but not a whole lot.”
Copper Kings 1 1 3 – 5
Houghton 2 0 0 – 2
1, HHS, Ty Halonen (P.J. Donnelly, Seth Francois), 5:55
2, CLK, Alex Mattila (Nolan Jenich, Nick Djerf), 9:32
3, HHS, Brad Gauthier (Brenden Erickson), 16:16
4, CLK, Rylan Anderson (Scott Loukus, Brent Loukus)
5, CLK, Landon Johnson (Sam Erkkila, Seth Coppo), 4:53
6, CLK, Dean Loukus (Djerf), 11:21
7, CLK, Anderson (Brent Loukus, Scott Loukus), 14:31
CLK, Studebaker 9 4 8 – 21
HHS, Pietila 10 8 6 – 24
CLK: 0/2; HHS: 0/3
CLK: 4/8; HHS: 3/6