MARQUETTE - Watching four goals get scored on your team in less than four minutes is enough to make any hockey coach go crazy. And if not crazy, then at least a little frustrated.
Adding in a tough loss less than 24 hours earlier, and it wouldn't be hard to imagine a coaching staff at least getting slightly irritated.
Yet Marquette Senior High School head hockey coach Mike L'Huillier had little to say that was negative when talking about his team's 6-3 loss on Saturday afternoon against Sault Ste. Marie, save for constructive criticism for allowing the four late second-period goals.
Marquette Senior High School's Luke Schwemin, right, brings the puck up ice flanked by teammates Cam Fries, bottom left, and Ryan Hanson with Sault Ste. Marie’s Kyle TenEyck (5) and Blake Mastaw in pursuit during the third period at Lakeview Arena in Marquette on Saturday. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
Marquette’s Forest Folker (24) brings the puck up ice as Sault Ste. Marie's Chase Meehan attempts to defend during the third period at Lakeview Arena in Marquette on Saturday. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
"We struggled a little bit until the third period and then all of a sudden we caught fire and played a lot better in the third period," L'Huillier said. "I think that it's a rebuilding process and it's going to take time.
"What I saw in the third period I really liked. There were a lot of positive things - another goal and we would have been right back in the game."
Despite ending on a positive note, the Redmen had to endure a frustrating stretch a period earlier, when the Blue Devils notched four unanswered goals in just three minutes, 31 seconds.
Beginning with just over four minutes left on the clock, Willem Gauthier dropped a puck in the Redmen net, followed closely by goals from Kyle TenEyck, Christopher Hazen and Eric Hillock on MSHS starting goalie Evan Kyle. The four goals put the Sault up 5-1 going into the third.
The tirade came after the team were tied 1-1 through one period, with Forest Folker scoring Marquette's goal about eight minutes into the game off of a pass from Tyler Jackson.
Sault answered with a goal at 4:40 from Hazen, his first of two in the game. The Redmen went on to go scoreless in the second amid a persistent Blue Devil defense and even more unwavering offense.
Yet after a rough couple minutes in the second period, L'Huillier focused on positive reinforcement to turn his team's mentality - and overall game - around.
"I talked to them and I gave them a lot of positive statements about doing the right things," he said. "(It's about) playing our system, forechecking better, being stronger on the boards, and taking more shots.
"Apparently it registered and I'm proud of them for that."
Kyle, who made 33 saves over two periods in taking the loss, reiterated what L'Huillier said in the locker room between periods, acknowledging that the positive attitude from the Marquette coaches helped the team come out with renewed energy in the third.
"Our team just kind of started giving up after the second goal that (the Sault) got, and the pressure just built after that," Kyle said. "(The coaches told us) that we can't give up, we have to keep pushing and that really helped us, we came out strong.
"It was very positive, he helped us realize that we needed to stay in it."
Ethan Weise made seven more saves in the third period for 40 total by MSHS, now 1-3 this season. Sault Ste. Marie improved to 4-0.
In the third period, the Redmen came out and scored a pair of quick goals - from Brett Specker at 2:38 and Jackson at 4:07 - to close to within 5-3. The Sault answered with a goal by Christopher Skinner at 6:25 to complete the weekend's scoring.
Marquette had assists from Justin Cain and Folker, who had two, in addition to Jackson, who assisted the Redmen's first goal.
Saturday's loss followed Friday night's 4-3 setback in a game Marquette led 3-0.
"We expected this," L'Huillier said of the Sault's strength. "They're probably the No. 2 team in the state in Division III. You can see they're a good team - they're fast, they move the puck, they take good shots.
"Mark my words, they're going to be in the Final Four come March."
Sault Ste. Marie had assists from Hillock, Blake Mastaw, Ben LaCross and Abby Roque, and only forced goaltender Nickolas McKenzie to have to make 14 saves.
Amanda Monthei can be reached at 228-2500 or at firstname.lastname@example.org