Pioneers alone atop GLHL standings

APPLETON, Wis. – The Portage Lake Pioneers are officially alone atop the Great Lakes Hockey League.

Portage Lake came from behind to sink Fox Cities 3-1 Saturday and earn sole possession of the league’s regular season title.

The Ice Dogs kept things tight, holding PL off the board in the first two periods and edging ahead themselves late in the second on a John Burton goal with just six seconds left.

Portage Lake (17-3-0) responded at its first opportunity, tying up the game on Blake Miller’s goal just 21 seconds into the third. Miller also scored the game-winner, on the power play at 7:40.

Ryan Sullivan tacked on an insurance goal at 11:35 for the Pioneers, who were outshot 37-31 but got a near-perfect 36 saves from goaltender Mike Wuthrich.

In DePere, Wis., the Calumet Wolverines finished their season with a convincing 9-2 victory over the DePere Deacons Saturday night, which brought the team’s record to 10-9-1 on the season.

Calumet’s win in the season finale snapped a seven-game losing streak on the road, dating back to a 4-3 win over Portage Lake on Dec. 29.

Ten-year veteran defenseman Nick Patrick scored his first career hat trick Saturday night, including the team’s ninth goal with just 49 seconds left in the game. Logan Rastello scored two goals and four points, while Jeff Erkkila, Wyatt Smith, Josh Harju, Mike Babcock and John Maki all had two-point games. Ryan Patrick made 32 saves.

Both teams will be in the GLHL Tournament at Eagle River, Wis., April 5-7. Portage Lake will be the top seed. Calumet is currently sixth, but can be passed if West Bend defeats Fox Cities next weekend in the final game of the regular season.

Before that, the teams will play the annual Gibson Cup series. Game 1 of the best-of-three is Tuesday at Calumet Colosseum, while games 2 and 3 (if necessary) will be at Dee Stadium Friday and Saturday.