Electrifying moments/Paul Peterson
It may be one of the most overused words in the world of sports.
Still, electrifying is a word that accurately describes a big moment in a game.
In the course of covering countless games and playing in a few more over the years, I can honestly say that few plays fell into the electrifying category.
But here’s a handful that did.
1. Houghton High was leading Iron Mountain by one point in the waning seconds of a 1988 Class C regional basketball game at C.B. Hedgcock Fieldhouse in Marquette when Stan Sharik of the Gremlins made a dazzling play.
Sharik stole an inbounds pass, raced to the hoop and threw down a tomahawk dunk that stunned the crowd of 5,000 spectators as well as the Mountaineers.
HHS then downed Ishpeming the next day to capture the regional crown. The Gremlins were defeated in the state quarterfinals the following week, but Sharik’s dunk still resonates.
2. Coach Bob Carlson’s Ontonagon football team was playing in the Class C finals at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1989 against a powerful Schoolcraft team when the Gladiators made a momentum-changing play.
Jim Bobula and Peter Miilu of OAHS combined to jolt a Schoolcraft receiver so hard that the ball popped up in the air at least 40 feet. A TD interception return by Jerry Cleary of Ontonagon not long afterward tied the game at 7-7. OAHS dropped a 14-7 decision despite the big play.
3. Calumet and Houghton were playing in the sixth overtime of perhaps the most memorable hockey game in Copper Country sports history in a regional game in March of 1976.
With both teams nearly at the end of their strength, Bob Steele of the Copper Kings dug out a puck in the corner and set up Duane Nordstrom for the game-winning goal.
The game was then a state record for overtimes. It wouldn’t be topped until just a few years ago.
4. Hoops hysteria was at full pitch in late March of 2003 when Michigan Tech hosted the Division II regional basketball tournament. Record crowds surpassing 3,600 poured into the Student Development Complex and created a truly electric atmosphere not seen before or since.
Trailing Southern Indiana early in a semifinal game, the Huskies and the crowd received a big charge when senior forward Matt Cameron threw down a spectacular reverse dunk. MTU lost a tight game, but that moment remains clear to anyone who was there that evening.
5. Lake Linden-Hubbell was facing a big Maple City Glen Lake team in the 1989 football playoffs when tailback Marc Gilles of LL-H came up with a big play on a slick, snow-covered field at Newberry High.
Taking a pitchout near the end of the half, Gilles skated 35 yards for a touchdown that put the Lakes ahead to stay. The play energized the large contingent of Lake Linden fans on hand and sent the team to the state finals the following week.
6. Houghton High took on a big Sault Ste. Marie team in the 1982 state hockey state quarterfinals at Lakeview Arena in Marquette when little Mike Archambeau of the Gremlins came up big.
Archambeau, who stood 5-foot-7 and weighed 145 pounds (soaking wet) leveled a 6-1, 215-pound Blue Devils player with a hard but clean check in the second period. The play energized the Gremlins, who won the game. HHS went on to capture the state championship that season under late coach Don Miller.
7. In 1977, the Golden Pheasant slow-pitch softball team was battling a team from the Green Bay area at the Karvakko’s Tournament in Tapiola when GP outfielder Bob Mohan came up with a memorable play.
Late in a tie game, Mohan climbed the 10-foot high snow fence to take away a potential three-run homer. The Pheasant went on to win the game – and the tournament – before approximately (no kidding) 4,000 fans.
Tragically, Mohan would die a year later after sustaining injuries on a similar defensive play.
These are just a few of the big plays I can recall, but they stand out.