CALUMET – It wasn’t the best of starts, but for the second night in a row the Brighton hockey team got better as the night went on, powering past Calumet 5-2.
“I’ll take it,” said Brighton coach Paul Moggach, whose team poked its nose over .500 (7-6-1) for the first time this season. “To take two up here is a huge weekend.”
Lee Pietila got the scoring started in a penalty-filled first period, scoring in a wrist shot from near the blue line at the 6:35 mark.
Calumet’s Jacob Anderson tied it with a power-play goal with 7:19 left in the first, deflecting a pass over the right shoulder of Brighton goalie Jimmy Milletics.
But the period was as much about the teams trying to establish themselves on the ice as in the net, with the referees finally stopping play and saying a few words to both benches after a boarding call against Calumet’s Robert Erkkila led to pushing and shoving by both teams with 4:07 remaining.
Brighton still had a 4-on-3 advantage until another penalty reduced the skaters to three per side.
That lasted for 29 seconds, until Calumet had the 4-on-3, which the Bulldogs successfully killed off.
Moggach was less than pleased with his team’s performance.
“We had some words between the first and second periods,” he said, understating his irritation. “We weren’t disciplined. We weren’t playing the plan. There was a lot of individual play, no team play at all.”
“We had to refocus,” goalie Jimmy Millitecs said.
They did, but, as mentioned, it took a little while.
Calumet took advantage of a Brighton turnover early in the second period.
Rory Anderson stole a pass near the Calumet blue line, then fed Erkkila to give the Copper Kings a 2-1 lead exactly a minute into the period.
But, as they did the night before, Brighton got stronger as the period progressed, tying it when Joey Clifford found a wide-open Zach Vitkuske in front of the net. Vitkuske buried it with a snap of his wrist with 10:26 left in the period.
A little over two minutes later, Cale Carpenter finished a flurry of shots by tapping in a goal to give Brighton its first lead of the night, 3-2.
Brad Halonen and Colin Bilek scored to put the game out of reach for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs killed penalties for much of the contest, including another 5-on-3 let in the game.
“They did a good job,” Moggach said. “It’s a good win, but we need to have better starts.”
“It’s a great environment here,” Milletics said. “To go 2-0 up here helps us get a good start on the second half of the season.”
The game was played at the end of the Bulldogs’ annual trip to the Copper Country, which began with a 2-1 overtime win at Houghton on Friday. Pietila scored the game-winner with 3:40 remaining as the Gremlins suffered their first loss of the season.