Thursday, January 11, 2007

IceDiggers beat Marquette Wednesday

Story courtesy of the Alpena News

Penalties were the downfall of the Marquette Rangers Wednesday night.

As the Alpena IceDiggers scored five power play goals, converting on 50 percent of its chances with the extra skater, as the IceDiggers cruised to a 6-2 win over the Rangers at Northern Lights Arena.

Drew Pierson led Alpena with two goals, both coming in the first five minutes, as Alpena established control of the game early to snap a two-game losing streak and end the Rangers' two-game winning streak.

The first of Pierson's goals, two minutes into the game, came with the man-advantage and started the story of the night - Marquette's inability to kill penalties.

Eric Roman followed with a power play goal a minute later and Alpena was on its way to redeeming itself from last weekend's two losses to North Division leader Mahoning Valley.

"We talked about it in pregame that they are the most penalized team in the league," said Alpena coach Kenny Miller. "We knew if we stayed disciplined and patient that the power play would give us a chance and would be a key point to winning the game."

Miller's strategy proved to be prophetic as Marquette rang up 43 minutes in the box, giving Alpena a number of chances that it capitalized on.

Pierson put Alpena ahead 3-0 with an unassisted goal at the 5:26 mark of the opening period - the only Alpena goal that came at even strength. Justin Stadler added Alpena's fourth goal late in the first period, Nolan Craner found the back of the net midway through the second period and Marco Ruggeri buried the puck past Marquette goalie Matt Brooker four minutes before the second intermission - with all coming while Marquette was trying to burn off penalties.

"Obviously you can't put a team like that on the power play," said Marquette coach Randy Enders. "We put them on the power play twice in the first five minutes. Obviously it was a penalty-filled game. We have to learn to stay out of the box; Alpena's a good team. You can't spot them three goals."

Miller said the fast start was a good way for his team to get back on track, and at the same time extinguish the confidence of Marquette, which swept two games from Traverse City last weekend.

"If we don't start with the two power play goals maybe they get the momentum," said Miller. "They were coming off two wins and we were coming off two losses. It was important for us to get those goals right off the bat. I thought we controlled much of the play after that."

Brodie Zuk and Nick Kosinski scored Marquette's goals. Zuk's score cut Alpena's lead to 3-1 with nine minutes left in the first period. Kosinski's goal was of the short-handed variety and was sandwiched between Alpena's two second-period scores. It was an otherwise stellar outing by Alpena goalie Shawn Hunwick, who made 33 saves and was awarded one of the stars of the game. Brooker, who was able to shut down the IceDiggers later in the game, made 38 saves.

Enders, who recently took over as Marquette's coach, still feels his team is on the right track.

"Our guys dropped a game tonight, but they still stuck together," he said. "We lose momentum if we go away from our game plan. We've made good strides. You'll have down nights. We just have to rebound."

The IceDiggers will continue their four game home stand with a pair of very important games this weekend versus the first place Mahoning Valley Phantoms. Saturday's game is set for 7:00PM and Sunday's matinee contest will begin at 3:00PM.


The IceDiggers returned forward Tyler Pilmore to the Central States Hockey League's Toledo Cherokee after last night's game. Pilmore was on recall for one game only. However, Miller was impressed with next seasons recruit. "I thought Tyler played really well, to be able to step in after one practice and play as well as he did says a lot about the type of player he is." Pilmore has signed a tender to play in Alpena next season.

Miller announced the team has acquired Carl Nielsen from the Columbus Junior Blue Jackets of the CSHL. The Lorain, Ohio native will be with the IceDiggers for the remainder of the season. "Carl is a big kid who not only will give us a physical presence on the back end, but he also has the ability to put points on the board," said Miller. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound defensemen scored 14 goals while adding 22 assists for a total of 36 points in 29 games for the Jackets.

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