Redmen take control early, roll past Escanaba icers

WELLS — It didn’t take the Marquette Redmen to gain the upper hand Tuesday night as they handed the Escanaba Eskymos a 4-0 season-opening hockey loss at Hannahville Ice & Turf Complex.

Marquette needed less than two minutes to get on the board as junior forward Nick Leafers’ shot from the right corner got past senior goaltender Brodie Goddard for a 1-0 lead.

“When you get a quick one like that, it gives your kids some confidence,” said Marquette coach Doug Garrow. “I thought our guys were good tonight. We’re happy with their effort and performance. We took better care of the puck tonight than we did at Houghton (in a 3-2 victory) last week.”

Just as they did Tuesday night, the Redmen got on the board early in their season debut (Nov. 21). They had a three-goal cushion before Houghton started its comeback.

“They came out flying,” said Esky coach Matt Hughes. “We knew going in they would come out hard, especially after the way they started in the Houghton game. They’re a fast team. They have a good group of seniors who have been playing together 3-4 years. They were confident. They moved the puck very well and got the lead.”

Marquette (2-0) gained a two-goal lead 10:39 into the contest on junior forward Sean O’Connor’s one-timer from between the faceoff circles moments after an Esky turnover inside its blue line.

Senior forward Joe Phillips then made it 3-0 on a breakaway one minute, 41 seconds into the second stanza.

“They (Esky) haven’t been on the ice that much,” said Garrow. “I think our experience might have been the difference, especially early in the game. This was our second game, plus we had a scrimmage. We had our legs under us a little. It will probably be a different game when they come to Marquette (Jan. 16).”

One of Esky’s best scoring chances took place midway through the second when it failed to cash in on a 2-on-1 break.

Junior forward Tanner Phillips concluded the scoring from the slot with 1:51 left in the second.

Marquette outshot the Eskymos 7-6 in the third frame and finished with a 30-14 shots on goal advantage.

Their goalie made some big saves,” said Hughes. “Brodie (Goddard) also made some huge saves. He kept it at four when it could have been a lot worse. I think the third was our best period. We started putting more effort into it which led to creating a few scoring chances. Because of our effort we were able to put some pressure on them.”

Goddard finished with 26 saves and junior Tyler Bergwall stopped 14 shots for the Redmen.

The teams combined for just two penalties with a minor called on each.

Esky hosts Gaylord Friday at 7 p.m. Marquette travels to Sault Ste. Marie this weekend to face Utica Eisenhower Friday at 6 and Romeo Saturday at 2 in a showcase event.