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The Calumet Copper Kings overcame a slow start in a 9-3 thumping of the Kingsford Flivvers on Thursday.
The win gave the Division 3 No. 1 Copper Kings a share of the Great Lakes Hockey Conference title with Houghton after the Gremlins loss to Marquette on Thursday.
The Copper Kings (19-5-1, 10-2 GLHC) fell to an early deficit when Kingsford’s Tyler Bengston scored on a rebound just three minutes into the game.
But it was all the momentum Kingsford managed as Calumet asserted its offensive prowess from there on. The Flivvers didn’t get a shot on goal for nearly 10 minutes after Bengston’s goal as the Copper Kings scored five goals and held a 16-6 shots advantage going into the second period.
Calumet displayed its strong puck cycling ability in the offensive zone, putting Kingsford back on its heels as the Copper Kings moved the puck around the zone to tire out the Flivvers. It showed in Calumet’s 40-26 shot advantage on the night.
Copper Kings senior Alex Mattila scored two goals and two assists. Senior forward Gabe Coppo had a goal and two assists. Sophomore defenseman Tom Erkkila had three assists all in the first period.
“They were creative in the offensive zone. They created a lot of offense down low and also on the rush — a couple goals off the rush,” Calumet head coach Dan Giachino said of his team’s offense. “They do a good job holding onto the puck and possessing the puck. In these types of games, when we hold onto that puck below the circles and just move it, protect it, possess it, you wear the team down after 30, 40 seconds because it’s so much defending and finally those openings start creating and start attacking the net.”
Giachino said Kingsford’s goal to take the early lead was the kick in the pants the Copper Kings needed to get going to help erase Thursday’s deficit, and also the sting of a 3-2 loss to Houghton on Tuesday.
“You lose that game on Tuesday and it’s a little bit of a letdown coming into this one in terms of that from a mental side,” Giachino said. “Sometimes you need that little kick to get yourself going.”
Senior Copper Kings goaltender Alex Studebaker probably wishes he had Bengston’s goal back, as it came on a rebound from an initial shot by David Juul. But he bounced back strongly for the rest of the game and made 23 saves on 26 shots.
“He played well. I think he had quite a few shots in that second period, a little more than I probably would’ve liked once we got up a little bit,” Giachino said. “We got a little loose defensively to put that in the simplest way possible. But after that, yeah he played well back there and made the saves he needed to make. We killed off those three penalties in the third period and he needed to make some saves there for us and turned in a good hockey game.”
Kingsford head coach Greg Wadage said the Flivvers’ offensive attack was simply to get Studebaker to move laterally and create open angles to the net on rebounds.
“We were just looking to get pucks on net,” he said. “Studebaker was solid and we had to get him going side to side to pick up some rebounds. That was kind of the gameplan was get pucks in deep.”
It was a promising start for the Flivvers (12-12, 4-8), but the Copper Kings started moving their feet after Bengston’s goal.
“I didn’t think our first period was very good. Second period, we were a little better and then the third period we were better yet,” Wadge said. “We ended up chasing in the defensive zone. We were not connecting on any of our passes and kept missing guys and icing the puck. You can’t do that against a team like Calumet. They are solid.”
Senior forward Trey Bociek had a goal and an assist for Kingsford, while senior forward Reece Fortner had two assists. Hunter Fortner scored Kingsford’s second goal of the night five minutes into the second that cut the deficit to 6-2.
Flivvers goalie Evan Hedtke was peppered throughout the night, including 19 shots in the second period. Hedtke made 31 saves on 40 shots.
Calumet hosts the Division 3 Region 17 tournament next week. The Copper Kings play Jeffers at 8 p.m. Thursday at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena, following the 6 p.m. game between Houghton against Hancock. Kingsford hosts Marquette at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Division 2 Region 9 tournament.
Kingsford 1 2 0 — 3
Calumet 5 4 0 — 9
First Period–1, KHS, Bengston (Juul), 2:51. 2, CHS, Mattila (G. Coppo, T. Rowe), 4:02. 3, CHS, S. Loukus (Erkkila, D. Loukus), 5:29. 4, CHS, Rilei (Erkkila, D. Loukus), 10:42. 5, CHS, Djerf (Mattila, Erkkila), 12:06, pp. 6, CHS, D. Loukus (S. Loukus), 13:55. Penalties–KHS, Bociek (interference), 11:11.
Second Period–7, CHS, Mattila (G. Coppo), 4:42. 8, KHS, H. Fortner (Bociek, R. Fortner), 4:51. 9, KHS, Bociek (R. Fortner, Kreski), 6:09. 10, CHS, D. Loukus (Beiring, S. Loukus), 10:11. 11, CHS, G. Coppo (Mattila, Kauppinen), 10:33. 12, CHS, D. Loukus (S. Loukus), 12:43, sh. Penalties–CHS, Jurmu (roughing) 5:27. KHS, H. Fortner (roughing), 5:27. CHS, H. Rowe (tripping), 11:57. KHS, H. Fortner (slashing), 14:13.
Third Period–Penalties–CHS, Studebaker (interference), 7:53. CHS, H. Rowe (slashing), 9:53. CHS, Jurmu (holding), 13:17. KHS, Saari (slashing), 14:14.
Shots on Goal–KHS 5-12-9–26. CHS 15-19-6–40.
Power-play Opportunities–KHS 0 of 4. CHS 1 of 3
Goalies–KHS, Hedtke 10-15-6–31. CHS, Studebaker 4-10-9–23.
Penalties-minutes–KHS, 4-8. CHS 5-10.