ALPENA, Mich. — During this point of the hockey season, it’s do or die. That’s the situation every high school hockey team across the state of Michigan is going through, which includes the Alpena Wildcats. Coming into their first-round matchup against Cheboygan, the Wildcats had a 10-13-2 record. One of those losses came from Cheboygan back on Feb. 1.
However, last Wednesday was the complete opposite. The Wildcats (11-13-2) were able to get revenge with a 4-1 victory over the Chiefs (8-17) in a Division III first-round regional matchup.
Tanner Orban got the Wildcats off to a hot start. Evan Kraezlein fired a shot from the point and Cheboygan goalie Scott Pavwoski made the save and got a piece of Anden Marceau’s shot. However, the puck was still moving near the crease and Orban found the back of the cage to put the Wildcats on the board.
In the second period, the Chiefs responded back. Just over nine minutes left in the period, Ethan Lindle fired a shot just inside the blue line that made its way past goalie Collin Lightfoot for the equalizer.
Nearly six minutes later, Tanner Orban scored his second goal of the game. Orban received a pass from Marceau near the neutral zone and from there he only had one man to beat. The senior made Pavwoski make the first move and he made him pay for it. That would give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead, heading into the second intermission.
It’s safe to say that the third period proved to be the difference in this game. It all started with the Wildcats killing a penalty that was executed perfectly. Not only they killed the penalty, but Alpena converted on a short-handed goal. Blaise Keller fired a shot on goal and Anden Marceau cleaned up the mess inside to widen the deficit to two.
Moments after that, the Wildcats had an extra attacker on the ice and the Chiefs paid the price. Mitch Agius fired a shot from the blue line and it made its way past a few skaters and Pavwoski to put the game out of reach. From there, the Wildcats kept their foot on the gas pedal until the clock hit zero.
With the victory, Alpena advances to Saturday’s regional semifinal game. They’ll square off against the Gaylord Blue Devils at Northern Lights Arena. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.