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Marquette Redmen icers take nothing for granted in decisive 5-3 regional championship win at Escanaba

Marquette hockey players celebrate with their student section in the stands after defeating Escanaba 5-3 to capture the MHSAA Division 2 regional championship on Wednesday at Wells. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Austin Hemmingson)

WELLS — Marquette hockey coach Doug Garrow used a unique strategy to motivate his team for Wednesday’s MHSAA Division 2 regional championship game at Escanaba.

With many upsets taking place across high school and college playoffs in multiple sports the last few days, Garrow reminded his team of some of the major ones to keep his team from looking past Escanaba.

“I reminded the guys before the game today of the Gladstone girls (basketball team) beating Menominee (on Monday),” Garrow said.

“I reminded them of the Northern Michigan basketball team — a No. 8 seed — beating Ferris State (on Tuesday).

“I reminded them when we went to Hancock this year, we were the favorite and they beat us 2-1, which cost us a chance at the (Great Lakes Hockey Conference) league title.

“So I reminded them of situations where the team that’s not supposed to win, wins. So we just had to make sure we showed up and played.”

It appears that message got through, as the Redmen scored two goals in the first six minutes and two more 25 seconds apart in the second period to build a 4-0 lead on their way to a 5-3 win and a second consecutive regional title.

The Redmen (24-4), who beat Escanaba for the third time this season,a face Traverse City Central on Saturday in Gaylord in a state quarterfinal.

Escanaba finished 14-12.

“Unfortunately, we made a couple bad turnovers and they took advantage of that,” Esky coach Matt Hughes said. “We showed good signs of hockey, we put some pressure on them in the second to force them to call a timeout, and unfortunately, it didn’t pay off for us.

“It helped them and they were able to score two goals shortly after that to make it 4-0.”

Jacob Garrow and Lucas Guertin each scored twice for the Redmen.

Garrow scored just 45 seconds into the game on a one-timer, then scored again five minutes later on a shot between the circles to make it 2-0.

Senior goalie Trevor Denome managed to keep the Eskymos in it with big save after big save the rest of the period.

Escanaba then came out as the aggressor in the second period, getting a few good scoring opportunities and keeping the puck in the Marquette zone.

Coach Garrow recognized that and called timeout midway through the period, which appears to have worked.

Thirty seconds later, Guertin fired a shot from the blue line that got redirected into the net for his first goal. Then just 25 seconds after that, Cole Ranta blasted home a goal from the slot off a nice assist from Cooper Anderson to make it 4-0.

“It was nice to see Cole get that today,” Coach Garrow said. “His great grandfather just died today, so he was playing with a heavy heart. I think it was real exciting for him to get that goal.”

Guertin’s second goal made it 5-0 Redmen at the 10:57 mark of the third period before Esky senior forward Kyle Krutina scored twice within eight seconds over the next minute to make things interesting. Krutina then added one more on a breakaway with 33 seconds left in the game to complete the hat trick.

“Our guys never gave up,” Hughes said. “I think we got stronger as the game went on. I really commend the work ethic from our seniors. They knew what was on the line, and I think they set a good example by how hard they worked.”

Marquette outshot Esky 29-11. Freshman goaltender Liam Beerman made eight saves for the Redmen, while Denome stopped 24 shots for the Eskymos. Each team was 0 for 2 on the power play.

“Trevor definitely came up big for us, especially in big moments of the game where it could have got really out of hand,” Hughes said. “Kyle’s effort just speaks for itself. He’s on the scoresheet for us three times, and his last goal was just pure work ethic.”

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