Bulldogs put special spin on regionals

HOUGHTON – The Hancock hockey special teams were just that Tuesday night-special.

The Bulldogs netted a trio of power-play goals along with a pair of short-handed scores to see off Calumet 5-1 in the Division 3 regional quarterfinal at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.

Hancock beat the Copper Kings in all five meetings this season.

“You know, it’s funny, I tend to think the strength of our team is five-on-five,” Hancock coach Dan Rouleau said. “So what do I know? We got out and get three goals on the power play and then another two short-handed. Did a real nice job of burying our chances tonight.”

For a team that has struggled to put goals on the board all season, Calumet got off to a disastrous start when sophomore Jacob Anderson took a five- minute major penalty for boarding when he hit Hancock forward Alex Hill from behind.

The Bulldogs capitalized immediately, with senior Brett Lepisto stuffing one past Kings netminder Tyler Hubbard 8:48 into the game.

“We had good puck movement tonight,” Lepisto said. “Guys were working hard to get to the right places.”

Hancock grabbed its second from the major over three minutes later when Danny Hill tipped a Wade Hanke blast from the point. Tanner Kearly also picked up an assist on the play for finding Hanke.

“That five-minute major was pretty deadly,” Calumet coach Jim Crawford said. “They score two goals and that is pretty tough to battle back from. We haven’t been scoring all year, we needed a good start, and with a five-minute major you are not going to get that.”

After getting outshot 17-3 in the first period, Calumet rebounded with more shots on net and more chances in the second period than the leading Bulldogs.

But it was the Bulldogs who would capitalized on their opportunities.

Crimson and Gold goalie William Lucier made a fantastic one-on-one save with Kings forward Robert Erkkila bearing down on him, and Lepisto sniped home his second power play tally of the night a few minutes later to put the Bulldogs up 3-0.

“That has been our story all season,” Crawford said. “We created plenty of chances in the second period, but couldn’t get any of them to go. If we could have cut it to 2-1, it’s a whole different game, but instead it’s 3-0 and we are really in the hole.”

Lucier stopped 23 of 24 shots Tuesday night, with 13 coming in the decisive second period.

The senior repeatedly came up big on the penalty kill, with Hancock killing four penalties in the second period, including 47 seconds of 5-on-3 action.

“He had an excellent game,” Rouleau said. “When you are five-on-three your goalie has to be your best penalty killer and tonight he was the best penalty killer.”

Zach Ahola and Lepisto combined on an odd-man rush at the end of the 5-on-3, with Ahola hopping out of the box at an opportune time to beat Hubbard and make it a 4-0 lead.

Erkkila drew one back for Calumet with a power-play tally in the third period, but Hanke finished off a shorthanded breakaway to finish the scoring at 5-1.

Hancock will meet Jeffers Thursday at 6 p.m. at the MacInnes for a semifinal matchup – with Houghton and L’Anse on the other side of the bracket – while Calumet finished its season with a 6-19-1 mark.

“We had some of those seniors for a few years, so you are sad to see them go out like this,” Crawford said. “Six-and-19 isn’t something we see very often in Calumet. Next year’s team will be even more fired up as a result I hope.”