Calumet ends losing streak

NEGAUNEE – The penalty bugaboo bit the Negaunee High School hockey team again, this time costing the Miners three goals in a span of three minutes as Calumet skated off with a 5-1 victory at the Negaunee Ice Arena on Tuesday night.

Penalties hurt the Miners (5-12) in other recent games by preventing them from mounting comebacks. This game, however, Calumet (2-13-1) turned a 1-1 tie into a 4-1 lead when a five-minute major penalty was called for checking from behind in the middle of the second period.

The Copper Kings’ Evan Billeck, Robert Erkkila and Matt Prouty scored during the ensuing power play, though Erkkila’s came during a 5-on-3 advantage when a minor penalty was also assessed.

“Calumet plays a lot of good competition,” NHS coach Darrel Sleeman said. “If we wouldn’t have had that major penalty in the second period, it could’ve been a one-goal game either way.

“Our penalties included four cross-checking penalties. Those are the kinds of penalties that are just unnecessary.”

Billeck scored two goals, his first just 54 seconds into the game. Negaunee junior Michael Farley answered with a power-play goal, an assist going to sophomore Jeffrey Mathews, with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the first period for the 1-1 tie.

Miners junior goaltender Tyler Riutta made 39 saves as

Negaunee was outshot 44-10. Ian Carroll had nine saves for Calumet as teammates Tyler Loukus and Bradley Erkkila had three assists apiece and Robert Erkkila and Eric Mattila each had a goal and an assist.

The Miners host Jeffers at 7 p.m. Thursday. This will be Negaunee’s last chance to beat the Jets this season as the Painesdale team holds a 3-0 lead in the season series.

Calumet’s next game is Saturday at Kingsford.