Late goal ties Jets, Bulldogs

HOUGHTON – The final result was a 2-2 tie between Hancock and Jeffers at MacInnes Student Ice Arena Monday night, but the postgame mood of the two squads was decidedly less in flux.

Drew Morris scored twice, including as an extra attacker with 17 seconds to play, and Dax Durocher made 47 saves for the Jets, who came away feeling much happier with what they consider a point gained.

“You can’t not look at it that way from our perspective,” Jeffers coach David Bekkala said.

“It definitely feels like a point lost, just with the late goal for one thing. I thought we dominated most of the hockey game. I thought zone time, we dominated, I thought, shots and good scoring chances we dominated,” Hancock coach Dan Rouleau said.

Rouleau’s reflection on the game territorially was confirmed by the shot chart. Durocher had to make 18 saves in the third period alone and several more than that to keep his team in the game.

“We did a good job clearing pucks out of the front of the net, we did a good job trying to get sticks on pucks, trying to keep them to the outside, but honestly Dax kept us in when we needed him to. If he didn’t play the way he did, that game could get lopsided,” Bekkala said.

For a game featuring teams whose strength is in the back, a breakthrough took a while and required a favorable bounce for the Jets. A shot off a shin pad midway through the second period turned into a partial breakaway for Morris. Parallel with the Bulldog defenseman, the Ontonagon High School junior shielded the puck with his body and flipped a backhand behind Hancock goaltender William Lucier to open the scoring at 9:55 of the second period.

Hancock got a break its way at the death of the second period, when Hunter Kero put his own rebound on net from a bad angle and it got through Durocher to tie the game just seven seconds before intermission.

At 5:53 of the third, Hancock’s Alex Hill moved off the boards and scored on a powerful wrister, and as the Bulldogs peppered Durocher, a third goal looked more likely than an equalizer for some time.

But with Durocher on the bench, Morris found open space from close range in the left circle and fired home the tying goal.

“It was a six-on-five, we had five covered and the sixth one scored. Unfortunately, he was standing right on the doorstep,” Rouleau said.

Jeffers put five shots on Lucier in the eight-minute OT, but Hancock had the best chance, a slapper on the run Brett Lepisto rang off the post with five seconds remaining.

Lucier made 26 saves for Hancock, which now stands at 8-6-3 going into a home game Thursday against Calumet. The Jets are 13-5-1 and will play Friday at home against L’Anse in a game recently added to the schedule.

Bekkala spoke of how the result gives his team confidence going into the last month of the season.

“It definitely brings some validity to the schedule that we’re playing, the record that we have right now. It also gives them the confidence to know we can play with some of the best. We’ve lost to three of the top 20 teams in the state, but it’s still not local,” he said.