Brighton best in OT at Dee

HOUGHTON – In overtime, a tired Houghton squad ran out of second chances and lost 4-3 to Brighton in a clash of Michigan high school hockey titans Friday.

The contest between 2012 state finalists (in different divisions) and third-ranked teams in their respective divisions by the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association lived up to its billing, but Daniel Bosio tied it up just 1:44 into the third period and finished it off 4:45 into an overtime in which Brighton recorded all five shots.

“It’s great to play a team like that. They are definitely one of the top couple teams in the state. It’s definitely how much stronger we have to be. We have to get stronger on the puck, we have to win one-on-one battles against the good teams like that, and we need to be able to compete for the full time,” Houghton coach Corey Markham said.

Brighton’s Alexander Sauchak hit the post with 14 seconds left in regulation, Michael Gessler rang a shot off the crossbar 1:05 into overtime and Sauchak fanned on a wide-open back-door pass 1:35 later before Bosio collected a rebound, crossed the slot from left to right and backhanded the puck over Houghton goalie Jayson Wiitala.

“They had momentum and we couldn’t turn the tide. We thought if we got it to overtime, it would refresh us, but they dominated the overtime and our legs weren’t there,” Markham said.

Houghton fell behind to Sauchak’s power play goal early but made its four first-period shots count, tying it at 8:49 on a high-glove snipe by Ray Brice and taking the lead on a top-shelf shot from the right circle by Jon Bostwick.

The Gremlins went up 3-1 7:39 into the second period when Cale Markham tucked in a loose rebound for a power-play tally. Against a Brighton team that appeared to be getting frustrated, it looked like it might hold up. As the period went on, the Bulldogs regained their focus, going for both the body and the goal.

“That (hitting) got the energy going for us, that we were going after it, but we had to get within ourselves. When we start playing within ourselves and playing with energy and determination, I think there was a confidence we developed there that will hopefully take us to tomorrow,” Brighton coach Paul Moggach said.

Aaron Sturos pulled a goal back at 14:13, burying the last of several good chances in the slot. Just after the second intermission, Brighton tied it twice. The first goal, on a solo breakaway, was not given, but Bosio fired the puck in from the high slot seconds later.

Hunter Rajala wheeled on a Brighton turnover and hit a post midway through the third, but otherwise, the conclusion was carried by the visitors.

“There was a point at which we just thought we had a little more energy. We got pushed pretty hard by them, and we pushed back and realized when we pushed back we realized we could play with them,” Moggach said.

The defeat overshadowed an excellent performance from Houghton goalie Jayson Wiitala, who had several highlight-reel saves in his 28-stop effort. Brighton’s James Milletics was the winning goalie, making 22.

“In the second period, we were so close many times to making it a 4-1 game and those come back to haunt you … When you don’t capitalize against a really good team, it comes back to pay and that’s what happened tonight,” coach Markham said.

The Gremlins face Novi today at 1 p.m. at Dee Stadium. Brighton visits the Colosseum to face Calumet tonight at 7.