Not without a fight: Bulldogs go down swinging as Kings end win streak

HANCOCK – The Hancock boys’ hockey team’s eight-game winning streak was snapped by the sticks of Calumet 5-2 Thursday night, but the Bulldogs did not go down meekly in the non-conference matchup.

In fact, the Bulldogs outshot the Copper Kings 39-26 and dominated play for much of the way.

Calumet capitalized on its grade-A chances, however – including three third-period goals to break open a tie game – and Calumet goalie Troy Pierce stood on his head in net to stymie multiple Hancock onslaughts.

“For two periods (Hancock) was all over us,” Calumet coach Jim Crawford said. “I really thought we got the breaks tonight. Hats off to Hancock because they worked hard. They really deserved a better break than 2-2 after two (periods). But our goaltender played well and we got a few breaks.”

Calumet forward Brendan Jacques netted the eventual game-winner just 20 seconds into the final period when he was able to turn the corner on the Bulldog defense and crash hard to the net. Somehow the puck went in.

“Brendan came in hard and just kind of one-handed it on the short side,” Crawford said. “It was kind of lucky but that was really the way the night went for us.”

Trailing for the first time all game, Hancock threw line after line of production at Pierce (37 saves) in net, but the junior withstood each rush.

A failure to convert on multiple opportunities proved back-breaking when Copper King forward Bryce Johnson widened the lead to two goals nine minutes into the third when he powered home a solo surge on Hancock goaltender Jacob Givens.

“We really needed to put one in during that stretch,” Hancock coach Dan Rouleau said. “I thought we had great energy, line after line, but we just couldn’t get one to go. That was tough because I thought we had the momentum, then they scored (against the grain) and we lost it for good.”

Just 45 seconds after Johnson’s tally, freshman forward Robert Erkkila buried a Jacques pass (three assists for the night) to complete the scoring for Calumet.

Crawford thought the team fed well off Pierce’s play in net in the third period.

“He was seeing the puck well tonight, that’s for sure,” Crawford said. “When you have a goaltender making big saves like that, it hurts the other team.”

The Bulldogs opened the game with a lead 5:38 into the contest when senior forward Dylan Hanke somehow found space to squeeze in a tough-angle shot skating in hard from the end line.

Calumet responded just under two minutes after the first intermission with an “even-strength” goal as Lucas Lahnala slapped home a savvy pass from Jacques as the first power play of the game was coming to an end.

Hancock took another lead then in the second period with Brett Lepisto finishing off a Hunter Kero assist. It took less than four minutes this time for the Kings to respond with Johnson lighting the lamp from the circle after Jacques found him from behind the net on a power play.

“I actually thought we defended their power play pretty well, there were just two breakdowns that they took advantage of,” Rouleau said. “They have four or five skilled guys out there on the power play, and that makes it tough, even with just one breakdown they can take advantage.”