With 30 seconds left to play, Brighton and Calumet are two teams in completely different situations. Brighton is clinging to a one-goal lead, while Calumet is desperate for an equalizer. But while they huddle up on their respective benches during a timeout, both coaches have the same message: “We have to win this face-off.”
The winner of that face-off, Calumet coach Dan Giachino says, has a good chance to win the game.
So when the Copper Kings came up with the puck, cheers echoed throughout the Colosseum. After fighting and clawing and hanging on for three periods, Calumet had a chance to defeat the defending Division 1 state champions.
But Brighton was ready, crowding all six players in front of its net and stopping Calumet short to come away with a 5-4 victory, Saturday in Calumet.
“Once you win the face-off there are some different options you can run off that, but the biggest thing you want to do is just get the puck to the front of the net and we did that,” Giachino said. “We got the puck to the front and you want to create those scrambles. You hope that one of your guys pulls the puck out of the pile and is able to put the puck in the back of the net. We had opportunities, we just weren’t able to do it.”
For Brighton, coach Paul Moggach said his Bulldogs were fortunate to avoid a loss at the hands of the Copper Kings.
“We were holding on there in the end,” he said. “They put the pressure on and we escaped. Sometimes it is a little bit of luck, sometimes it is a little bit of grit, sometimes it is one good play that gets you out of it.”
On Saturday it was a little bit of all three. Calumet didn’t get a fortunate bounce in the closing seconds and the Brighton defense held tough, deflecting every puck that came toward the net.
It was a remarkable finish to a game that could have gotten out of hand quickly.
Brighton opened play with two goals in five minutes. The first came after just 1:49 had gone off the clock when Drew Daavettila found the back of the net. But the second goal had the potential to be demoralizing.
At the five-minute mark, Adam Conquest got the puck in the middle of the ice and deked past three Calumet defenders, firing the puck just over the head of Nick Voelker for a 2-0 lead.
“We stressed not letting them get speed through the neutral zone, and they got two goals on us off of those situations where they got the puck and were able to go full speed through the neutral zone and attack our defense,” Giachino said.
The crowd groaned, but Calumet remained calm, and four minutes later Tanner Rowe scored. His goal served to keep Calumet in the game, and stopped Brighton from running away with the momentum.
Then, 51 seconds into the second period, Calumet struck again, tying the game at 2 on a goal from Brent Loukus. The senior would score twice more in the game to record a hat trick.
“His line had it going all night right from the get-go,” Giachino said. “They played really well and did what they do with their speed and creativity.”
The tie, however, was short-lived and at the four-minute mark, Brighton scored twice in 20 seconds with goals from Caleb Seiter and Brody White.
The Bulldogs got what would turn out to be the game-winner from Daavettila with 9:34 gone by in the third period.
“I thought we played a good hockey game tonight, lots of speed lots of physicality and we just kept chasing that two-goal deficit, but we couldn’t get the goal to tie it,” Giachino said. “That was the difficult part there. We would tighten it up, start playing well and then we would give them one back.”
The loss was Calumet’s second of the weekend after dropping a game to Orchard Lake St.-Mary’s on Friday. Giachino knew at the beginning of the season that the Copper King (4-8-1) would suffer some difficult defeats, as he scheduled tough opponents (Brighton is the No. 4 team in the Michigan Super Rankings and OLSM is the No. 3 team). But now, he’s waiting for his team to take the next, much-needed step forward.
“We have grown a lot in the last month, month and a half,” Giachino said. “We are going in the right direction, we just need success right now. We need to win some of these close games. This weekend we played a one-goal game and a two-goal game against the No. 3 and No. 4 teams in the state, so we are right there, but we need to get a little better in a few areas to try and win some of these tight games.”
Next up, Calumet takes on visiting Detroit Jesuit for the Miners Cup on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Colosseum.
– – –
Brighton 2 2 1 — 5
Calumet 1 2 1 — 4
Brighton — Drew Daavettila (Kyle Cogan, Brody White), 1:49, 1-0.
Brighton — Adam Conquest (Sam Brennan, Tim Erkkila), 5:07, 2-0.
Calumet — Tanner Rowe (Alex Mattila, Gabe Coppo), 9:12, 2-1.
Calumet — Brent Loukus (Dean Loukus), 0:51, 2-2.
Brighton — Caleb Seiter (Harry Newton, Sam Brennan), 4:06, 3-2.
Brighton — Brody White (Cogan), 3:45, 4-2.
Calumet — Dean Loukus, 10:59, 4-3.
Brighton — Daavettila (Mathew Kahra, Newton), 9:34, 5-3.
Calumet — Dean Loukus (Sam Errkila, Dean Loukus), 11:42, 5-4.
Brighton, Robert Pegrum 22; Calumet, Nick Voelker 20.
Brighton: 5/10; Calumet: 3/6.
Brighton: 0/3; Calumet 1/5.