Petr Anderson was nervous. The first-year player was in the midst of a double-overtime matchup with Calumet, and Hancock head coach Dan Rouleau could tell the sophomore forward wasn’t keeping it together. So, as time began to wind down and shifts became more important, Rouleau kept Anderson on the bench.
After a few shifts had come and gone, Anderson had enough. He was ready to go, so as his line prepared to take the ice, he posed a question to Rouleau: “Can I go in this time?”
It was a simple question with a simple answer.
“Yeah, and get ‘er done,” Rouleau replied.
Anderson didn’t disappoint.
With a minute remaining in the second overtime, Anderson was on the weak side of the net, waiting for his chance. It came when Austin Salani connected with Colton Salani, who shoveled the puck over to Anderson. The sophomore tapped it home to give Hancock a 5-4 victory over Calumet, Wednesday at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena in a semifinal of the John MacInnes Holiday Hockey Classic. Hancock advances to play Houghton in the championship game tonight at 8 p.m.
“I knew I needed to make something happen, and coach told me to go do it,” Anderson said. “[Rouleau] had a lot of confidence in me even after I had a few bad shifts; he knew I would recover. That gave me confidence, too.”
The goal ended a wild back-in-forth contest where either team could have easily won — a far cry from Hancock and Calumet’s last meeting. The two squared off at the Copper Island Classic to start the season, and Hancock won the two-game aggregate series 12-7.
That time Calumet was outmatched, but this time the Copper Kings played even with the Bulldogs.
“I said right at the start of the season, ‘They have a lot of young guys, but they have a lot of young, good guys,’ “ Rouleau said. “And they are getting a little bit older. They have almost a half a season in them, and it shows.”
Early in the season, Calumet struggled to match up with Hancock, but the Copper Kings have matured defensively over their last seven games, and head coach Dan Giachino sees good things in their future.
“We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “We are competing with good teams, and it is paying off for us. We are developing and getting better, and we are going to keep battling until we can get some consistency in the win column.”
Throughout overtime and as regulation closed, the Calumet defense was aided by senior goaltender Nick Voelker, who made his biggest saves when the Copper Kings needed them most.
With 1:20 to play in the third period, Austin Salani broke through several Calumet players and went one-on-one with Voelker, who came up with the save. Then, with 2 seconds to go, as the Copper Kings were attempting to change lines when they were caught off guard, Voelker bailed them out once more.
But no save was more crucial to Calumet’s effort than the one that came with 5:08 left in the first overtime. Teddy Randell was taken out in front of the Calumet goal causing the officials to award him a penalty shot. Randell skated up the ice with the puck on his stick and fired at Voelker as he came out to challenge. The goalie recorded another save — one of 31 on the game — and kept the Copper Kings alive.
“He battled, he had some good saves throughout the game,” Giachino said. “He had some good saves and he gave us a chance to win the game, and that is what you want out of your goaltender every night.”
Both teams had chances, but in the end, Hancock capitalized better, and a Calumet miscue ended the game in the second extra frame.
“I thought the gameplay was pretty indicative of the score,” Giachino said. “It was a pretty even hockey game, and we kept preaching to the kids that it would come down to a mistake, and that is what it certainly was. They kind of threw the puck out and it landed on Anderson’s stick. He was able to finish it off.”
Prior to the contest, Giachino decided that if his Copper Kings were going to go down, it wouldn’t be at the hands of Randell or Alex Nordstrom. Calumet limited their speed in the neutral zone and stopped the duo from creating too many chances. Randell scored Hancock’s first goal of the game, but from there, he and Nordstrom were quiet, and neither recorded a point for the rest of the contest.
Instead, other Bulldogs, like Anderson, stepped up. In addition to Anderson’s game-winner and Randell’s goal, Hancock got goals from Austin Salani, Colton Salani and Michael Stuber.
“Teddy [Randell] and Nordy [Nordstrom] are obviously our two best players, but we have talked a lot about getting other guys involved,” Rouleau said. “Our second line got the game-winner, and I thought they had a fantastic game. Colton Salani was sick the night before and he came out and gutted it out. Austin [Salani] played great as well, and in the end, Petr [Anderson] caught up with them, getting the game-winner.”
Offense was abundant for both teams during regulation. Calumet got one goal each from Dean Loukus and Alex Matilla, and two goals from Brent Loukus.
“He had good play all night long,” Giachino said of Brent Loukus. “He created offense darn near every shift he was out there. He was getting quite a few shots on goal and put himself in a lot of good scoring chances.”
The third period, in particular, was a back-and-forth offensive showdown with four goals being scored. Three of those came in the span of a minute. The action started with an unassisted goal from Stuber to tie the game at 3. But the Bulldogs had barely finished celebrating when 31 seconds later, at 8:08, Loukus scored his second of the game and Calumet regained a 4-3 lead.
Finally, Hancock tied the game once more when Austin Salani found the back of the net 28 seconds later. The 4-4 tie would hold until Anderson gave Hancock the win in double-overtime.
“Both teams played well enough to win the game, and we were fortunate to get the last goal,” Rouleau said. “That is a sign of good teams. We would score and they would come back, they would score and we would come back.”
With the win Hancock (9-1) advances to play Houghton (5-4-1) in the championship game. This will be the second meeting between the two teams this season. The first one came on Nov. 28, when the Bulldogs defeated the Gremlins 4-2.
Calumet (3-6-1) faces Howell in the consolation game at 6 p.m. in the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
– – –
Calumet 2 0 2 0 0 — 4
Hancock 1 1 2 0 1 — 5
Calumet – Brent Loukus (Dean Loukus), 2:21, 1-0.
Hancock – Teddy Randell (Teddy Perault), 3:05, 1-1.
Calumet- D. Loukus (B. Loukus), 12:02, 2-1.
Hancock – Colton Salani (Austin Salani, Petr Anderson), 11:55, 2-2.
Calumet – Alex Matilla (Gabe Coppo, Tanner Rowe), 3:46, 3-2.
Hancock – Michael Stuber, 7:37, 3-3.
Calumet – B. Loukus (Josh Vandenburg), 8:08, 4-3.
Hancock – A. Salani (C. Salani, P. Anderson), 8:36, 4-4.
Anderson (C. Salani, A. Salani, 7:06, 5-4.
Calumet, Nick Voelker 31; Hancock, Kero 30.
Calumet: 2/2; Hancock: 4/8.
Calumet: 0/4; Hancock 0/1.