Colosseum voodoo strikes again

CALUMET – The names and line-ups have changed over the years, but the result remained the same Saturday: Calumet Colosseum is still a house of horrors for the Escanaba Eskymos.

This year’s trip featured a novel calamity: two Calumet shorthanded goals on the same penalty, part of the five unanswered the Copper Kings scored in a 5-2 decision.

“Calumet’s always been a good team. To come up here and play in their house, you’d better be playing good hockey and three periods of good hockey,” Eskymo coach Tim McCarthy said.

Calumet’s home winning streak over Esky extends back into the 1990s, but the Eskymos entered on a nine-game winning streak with seven wins by the goal-differential rule and a come-from-behind victory over No. 2-ranked (in Division 3) Sault Ste. Marie in their most recent outing.

The visitors scored twice in a 36-second span in the first period and had Calumet’s defense reeling.

“We couldn’t have played much worse,” Calumet coach Jim Crawford said. “(Assistant coach) Dan (Giachino) and I were talking, that’s probably the worst defensively we played all year, in the first period.”

After Ben Lasecki and Jacob Eastin put Esky up 2-0, Eric Mattila pulled a goal back for Calumet, getting around the defenseman and going hard to the net, finishing with a Bobby Orr-esque flying stumble.

Escanaba had a golden opportunity when Levi Wunder clanked a post early in the second period, followed a few minutes later by a tripping penalty to Calumet’s Bryce Johnson.

The advantage backfired spectacularly when Mattila collected a turnover and leaned into a wrister moving across the slot to his right. It beat goaltender Nick LeMire for the equalizer at 7:53. On the next shift, Brendan Jacques pressed the point after the puck trickled out of the Escanaba offensive zone, leading to a 2-on-1 Lucas Lahnala buried just 46 seconds after Calumet tied it up.

The goals were the first two shorthanders allowed by Esky this season.

“Calumet came and brought it to us right away. And that’s what they do. They jump at you and they don’t give you those extra two seconds to play with the puck and set up. You’ve got to move the puck quickly,” McCarthy said.

Calumet kept rolling, going up 4-2 on a powerful drive to the net by Johnson from a feed by Mattila at 15:22.

With Escanaba down a man late in the period, Wunder had a pair of open breakaways to net a shorthanded goal of his own. The first rolled off his stick after making a move and Calumet’s Troy Pierce saved the other.

Reilly Schreiber banged in an insurance goal for Calumet early in the third. The Copper Kings, at 3-0, are the last unbeaten team left in the Great Lakes Hockey Conference.

“It’s a super big win for us,” Crawford said.

Mattila finished with two goals and two assists for Calumet (8-5), which is back in action Friday in a two-game series against University of Detroit-Jesuit. Pierce made 28 saves.

LeMire stopped 25 shots for Esky (10-3), which hosts Marquette Tuesday.