For the first 17 minutes and the final seven minutes of play, the Calumet Copper Kings looked like the type of team that might steal a game at home from the visiting Orchard Lake-St. Mary’s Eaglets. Unfortunately for the Copper Kings, high school hockey is a 51-minute game, and that is a lesson they still need to learn as Eaglets forward Bryce Kallen picked up a goal and three assists in a 5-3 win Friday night.
For Calumet, the No. 4-ranked team in Division 3, playing hard for a full contest is something head coach Dan Giachino is still trying to convince his team of.
“I was proud of our effort,” Giachino said. “I think they just kind of overwhelmed us at times. That is the best hockey team that we have played this year.”
That is not to say that things were all bad for the Copper Kings. Junior co-captain Sam Erkkila and his linemates, co-captain Brent Loukus and freshman Dean Loukus, combined for two of the Copper Kings’ three goals.
Erkkila stung the Eaglets just 2:47 in when he buried a rebound past goaltender Tanner Beals. He struck again at the 12-minute mark of the third when he skated from the left boards and deked around Beals.
“He goes hard all overthe ice,” Giachino said of Erkkila. “That is what he brings to the table every night.”
Erkkila’s second tally came just 42 seconds after senior Tyler Johnson snuck a shot through underneath Beals, causing Eaglets coach Brian Klanow, whose team had scored five straight goals, to use his timeout.
Klanow felt his team needed to settle down after giving up a pair of quick tallies.
“That’s what we made the call,” Klanow said. “We brought them over and told them, ‘We’re okay. That was a bad goal, but you don’t fall apart because of that. It is time to regroup.’ “
The Eaglets, who rank No. 2 in Division 1, struggled with the high pace the Copper Kings’ top line set to open the contest. The constant pressure of Brent Loukus, Dean Loukus and Erkkila caused the Eaglets to miss passes and lose control of the puck coming through the neutral zone. Despite their struggles, the Eaglets (7-3-0 overall) did even the score when Kallen found the back of the net behind assistant captain Nick Voelker with a wraparound.
Klanow sat his team down during the first intermission to settle his players down and get them to play their style as opposed to reacting to the Copper Kings (4-7-1 overall). The dressing down worked as Ryan Tucker knocked a rebound home just 18 seconds into the middle frame.
“We were just a little bit out of sorts,” Klanow said. “We were not bought into our game plan 100 percent. I think we were just playing too individualistic. It was good to end the period, come in here and regroup.”
From there, the second period belonged to the visitors as the Eaglets racked up three more goals, including two on the man advantage.
The first power play marker came just nine seconds into their second power play of the night when Kallen fed the puck to Dane Pelkey, who beat Voelker with a quick shot at 5:29. The second came late in their second power play of the period when Nick Cloud skated out from below the goal line, waited for Voelker to go down, and then lifted the puck over Voelker’s shoulder for the tally at 14:37.
The Eaglets added a fifth goal just 43 seconds into the third period when Basil Shea’s shot hit Brent Loukus in the slot and deflected past Voelker.
The Copper Kings return to action tonight at 7 p.m. against the Brighton Bulldogs. The Eaglets will face the Hancock Bulldogs this afternoon at 1 p.m.