Houghton skates over Escanaba in season opener

By Dan Roblee

For the Gazette

HOUGHTON – Escanaba won the opening face off and had the first shot on goal. From there though, Houghton owned Friday night’s season opener. The Gremlins scored the first goal two minutes in, controlled the puck for all three periods, outshot the Eskymos 53-26 and skated away with a 6-0 victory to begin the 2013-14 campaign.

The lopsided score was the result of a full-team effort, with Houghton’ six goals coming from five different players, including the game’s first from sophomore William Liston, in his first varsity game. Liston flipped the puck in after emerging from a scrum to the right of Escanaba goaltender Nick LeMire, with an assist going to veteran Gremlin Connor Hannon.

Even perfect-for-the-year netminder Marcus Gloss refused a hero’s accolades, despite a spectacular stop on a one-on-one Eskymos’ breakaway.

“I had no idea where he was going,” Gloss said. “I just waited for him to make the first move and got lucky.”

Otherwise, he said, the shutout was a team accomplishment.

“I just try to make sure we’re strong in the back end with no weak goals. I don’t usually have to win the game,” Gloss said.

Gremlins coach Corey Markham was also happy with the team’s defense, pointing to their work clearing pucks from the front of the net and eliminating second-shot opportunities. Overall, he said, “our level of competition was good for the entire game.”

Junior Jonathan Bostwick ended any Escanaba hopes of tying things up quickly when he notched Houghton’s second goal just 1:16 after Liston’s tally. Bostwick picked up a pass misdirected by an Escanaba player trying to clear the zone and sent it in from just above the left circle. Bostwick cemented the Gremlins’ dominance 6:31 into the second period, on a pass from Houghton’s single-season scoring record-holder, senior Ray Brice.

Brice scored his own unassisted goal later later in the period, bookmarking another second period goal that came on a one-timer slap shot from the blue line by junior defenseman Riley McKay. McKay had helpers from sophomore Chad Dunstan and junior Cale Markham.

Senior Forward Connor Hannon finished off Houghton’s scoring late in the third. He checked a drive down the left side, pulled back at the circle, and neatly placed a wrist shot just inside the post to LeMire’s stick side.

Houghton logged seven penalties Friday, one more than Escanaba, but none of the five and ten minute majors that limited the Eskys’ chances of pulling back into the game in the second and third periods. But despite intrepid penalty-killing, and and a big even-strength offensive output, the Gremlins failed to score on any of their own power plays. Without their usual lines and spacing, the Gremlins were losing their offensive flow, Markham said.

Heading into Tuesday’s game against new conference opponent Marquette, he said, special teams would be a focus.

“We’re going to concentrate on getting the power play working better. We’ll make a few tweaks.”