MARQUETTE - Marquette Senior High School hockey coach Mike L'Huillier sounds like he's preaching patience with his Redmen this season.
Returning as head coach after eight years away from the position, L'Huillier watched MSHS fall in an early hole it couldn't get out of in a 7-5 loss to Escanaba at Lakeview Arena in Marquette on Tuesday evening.
The Eskymos scored three times in the game's first 6 minutes and never let Marquette get closer than two goals the rest of the way.
Escanaba’s TJ Myrick (9) and Steve Wood (7) battle for possession of the puck with Marquette’s Jake Phillips (20) during the first period at Lakeview Arena in Marquette on Tuesday. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
"I'm very impressed with Escanaba," L'Huillier said. "This is the best skating team I've ever seen from them.
"We made some mistakes early, but I'm very happy because I feel that we outplayed them in the second and third periods."
Those early mistakes by a young Redmen defense led directly to goals, according to their coach, such as a cross-ice pass in their defensive zone and another while killing an early penalty.
It led to two first-period goals by the Eskymos' Jake Eastin, one on a power play, en route to a hat trick and four-point night. Teammate Nick Vandermissen added two goals and three assists, while T.J. Myrick scored twice.
Marquette's Forest Folker also had two goals to go with an assist, while Shawn Cornock, Scott Frazier and Justin Cain added single tallies. Teammates Jake Phillips and Tyler Jackson contributed two assists apiece.
"I'm proud of my team for not quitting," L'Huillier said. "We had some chances after we pulled our goaltender late in the game, too.
"But right now, I'd have to say Escanaba is the team to beat come playoff time."
Marquette got on the board about four minutes into the second period, cutting Esky's advantage to 3-1, but goals by Vandermissen 1:45 apart proved to be a backbreaker for the Redmen.
Especially the first one that came at 5:13 as Escanaba was in a 5-on-3 shorthanded situation.
MSHS did fight back to pull within 5-3 by the end of the second following goals by Folker and Frazier, but the Eskymos pulled away a final time with goals 1:19 apart in the third to re-establish a four-goal cushion.
Folker and Justin Cain scored in the game's final six minutes, but it wasn't enough to stave off defeat.
Nick LeMire worked in the Escanaba net, while goalies Ethan Wiese and Evan Kyle split duties for Marquette, Kyle entering the game early in the second period. Goalie saves weren't available.