Negaunee icers defy odds to advance in league tournament

HOUGHTON – The Negaunee High School hockey team had everything going against it at the Lake Superior Conference tournament at Michigan Tech on Friday night.

And yet the Miners emerged victorious to advance to Saturday’s league championship game.

Negaunee was the tournament’s lowest seed and had to play No. 1 Jeffers, were outshot by a lopsided 53-24 margin, had to play in the Jets’ backyard in Houghton and finally, gave up the game’s first goal.

None of that mattered in the Miners’ 7-2 victory that advanced them to play Kingsford on Saturday.

Jeffers took a quick 1-0 lead just 1:51 into the game on a goal by Kurt Halonen, but Negaunee answered with an unassisted goal by junior Eric Hurst less than five minutes later to finish the period tied 1-1.

Negaunee scored the game’s next six goals, too, with Hurst notching his second and juniors Neal Violetta and Trevor Borlace each adding two to make it 7-1 midway through the third. Violetta’s both came in the second to make it 3-1 after two, while Borlace had both his in the third barely five minutes apart. Senior Jerek Steinhausen had Negaunee’s other goal, while junior Shane Ring had three assists, Borlace two and Hurst and junior Jackson Vilona one each.

Goaltending informtion was not available.

Kingsford 4, L’Anse 3

In the other LSC semifinal, the Purple Hornets twice answered Kingsford scores to tie it up, but back-to-back goals by the Flivvers in the third period proved too much.

L’Anse sophomore Foster Miller scored just 17 seconds after Kingsford’s Jordan Wadge near the midpoint of the second period to make it 1-1. Then Hornets’ sophomore Gavin Mattson scored about a minute and a half into the third, making it 2-2 by answering a Flivvers’ goal by Alek shanks that came in the final minute of the second period.

Then Wadge and Sawyer Perpich scored for Kingsford, with L’Anse senior Andre Richard scoring with 1:59 to go to pull the Hornets within 4-3.

Craig Mantila made 32 saves in net for L’Anse.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.