Gremlins get away from Novi

HOUGHTON – Houghton fizzled out in the third period and overtime in Friday’s 4-3 loss to Brighton, but the Gremlins poured in three goals in the decisive final period Saturday to earn a 5-2 win over Novi.

Five different players scored for the Gremlins (now 10-2), who outshot the Wildcats (4-8-1) 43-19 – 13-4 in the third period – in the 1 p.m. matinee at Dee Stadium.

“You just never know how you will respond with a quick turnaround good game for us coming off a disappointing loss (Friday) night. I thought we responded well, got a lot of shots on net,” Houghton coach Corey Markham said. “The first two periods I didn’t think we had a whole lot of life and energy, but we really took it to them in the third.”

Speedy Gremlin forward Connor Hannon broke the 2-2 tie just 1:01 into the final 17 minutes with an off-speed shot from the slot that slipped past Novi goaltender Patrick Carney.

Five minutes later Zach Verran fired a seeing-eye puck from the left point that somehow found its way through traffic, and Casey Markham put the exclamation point on the win with seven minutes left.

“It’s ridiculous for us to give up three goals like that in the third,” Novi coach Todd Krygier said. “I think Houghton has a real nice team, good goaltending, good defense, top forwards in high school hockey. I thought we did well for two periods, then in the third period we weren’t competing like we needed to, too many turnovers.”

While Novi kept it close for the first two periods, it looked like it would be Houghton’s game right from the get-go as Cale Markham banked in a goal from behind the goal line just 1:13 into the game.

The Gremlins continued to pepper Carney with power-play-like pressure, but the Wildcats evened up the score on an actual power play of their own. Jed Kallio went to the box for interference at the 7:07 mark and with about 30 seconds left in the minor Luke Bageris fired a shot from the right faceoff dot to the upper left corner of the net.

Houghton dominated first-period shots 16-4, but it only took one shot into the second period for Novi’s Joshua Ward to give the visitors a 2-1 lead where it mattered.

“It was good, but I think our guys – we have a young, inexperienced team – things happen like that. They don’t know how to continue to push and push and put the nails in the coffin,” Krygier said.

And they didn’t. Instead, Houghton answered this time around, on the power play, as Ray Brice notched his 17th goal of the season, skating left to right through the slot and firing a backhander five-hole (he and Hannon have scored 32 of Houghton’s 60 goals; no other teammate has more than six).

Houghton’s second-period shot advantage was only 14-13, though, and it looked like the Gremlins were destined for another close finish.

Not so much.

“We were a little frustrated and the kids responded really well in the third,” Markham said of his team’s three-goal outburst. “I just thought we played a little more physical. We weren’t finishing enough checks in the first two periods, and I thought we did a much better job of that in the third. Once we started doing that we started creating a few more turnovers.”

Houghton returns to action Tuesday at home against Negaunee.