MARQUETTE - Ryan Syrjala's goal 16 seconds into Thursday's game at Lakeview Arena looked to be all the Negaunee High School hockey team needed to knock off Marquette Senior High School on its home ice.
Then Syrjala received a major penalty that opened the foor for Marquette.
"The killer in the game was the five-minute major penalty," Miners coach Darrel Sleeman said. "From what I could see, from my angle, I don't think he was pushed into the boards myself, but whatever. The referee saw it differently.
A linesman attempts to break up a scrum involving Marquette Senior High School's Cam Verigin and Cole Rieboldt and a pair of Negaunee players after the Redmen scored their second power play goal during a Miners' major penalty in the third period at Lakeview Arena in Marquette. Prior to the Miners' major penalty for checking from behind, MSHS trailed 1-0 prior to the major and won 2-1. (Journal photo by Matt Wellens)
"The difference in the game was the five-minute power play."
The NHS junior forward received five-minute major and 10-minute misconduct penalties for checking from behind 4:44 into the third period. The Redmen cashed in on the continuous advantage twice for a 2-1 victory over the Miners.
MSHS outshot NHS 28-12 in the game, but needed power play goals at 5:47 and 9:38 of the third period to secure the win.
"Those are opportunities you have to take advantage of when you get a five-minute penalty and you're on the power play," MSHS coach Doug Garrow said.
"You have to put one or two in the net and hopefully, we can just build on that for Sunday's game against Farmington Hills."
Syrjala struck in the game's opening seconds with an assist from freshman forward Jackson Vilona to give Negaunee a 1-0 lead it rode until about a minute into the major.
Marquette junior forward Brock Smith tied the game at 1-1 off an assist by senior forward Alex Zerbel, then Redmen junior forward Luke Schwemin scored the game-winner just before the penalty expired with an assist by sophomore forward Tony Fedrizzi.
"We got a lot of shots on net and the major penalty kind of gave us a little momentum," Garrow said. "We set up the power play well and we got a good first goal.
"The second goal was two or three rebounds and that's the way you're going to score on that goalie (Tyler Riutta).
"He's a really good goalie," Garrow added. "If he sees it, he's going to stop it. We just got a couple lucky breaks, I think."
Riutta, a junior, made 26 saves for the Miners. MSHS netminder Johnny Beckman finished with 11 stops.
The Miners were 0-for-3 on the power play, having two advantages midway through the first period and a brief one in the third.
The Redmen were 2-for-4 on the man advantage, with both goals coming on the major.
"I don't second-guess the referee, but hopefully, if it was a legitimate call, then they scored those two power play goals and we deserved to lose," Sleeman said.
"I thought w played hard. We had the goaltending to give us the win. We got the one goal, but one goal doesn't stand up."