Houghton scores three times in the first period and defeats Flint Powers, 4-1, in Division 3 semifinal
Plymouth – Houghton scored three goals in the first period then held off Flint Powers in the third period to take a 4-1 victory in a Division 3 semifinal on Friday at Compuware Arena in Plymouth.
Houghton (24-4-2) will make its fifth appearance in a state final on Saturday against Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood (24-2-4) at 2 p.m.
Cranbrook Kingswood had no trouble defeating Riverview in the other semifinal, 8-0.
Houghton’s last trip to the finals came in 2012 when the Gremlins lost to Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, 3-0.
Houghton’s only state title came in 1982 when it defeated Powers, 6-2, in the Class B-C-D final.
This will be the first time Houghton and Cranbrook Kingswood will meet in a final.
“We held the line,” Houghton coach Corey Markham said. “Our defense is pretty mobile. It was a lot of compete and will out there.
“When we get an early lead it really helps us get into our game.”
Houghton jumped out to a 1-0 lead 55 seconds into the game on a goal by Erich Walter. Jonathan Bostwick and Reid Pietila got the assists.
It was a clean game as just four penalties were called. But Powers’ lone penalty proved costly as Houghton scored on a power play to make it 2-0. Pietila was parked on the doorstep of goaltender Austin Kane and Pietila, left alone, had no trouble getting the puck past Kane at 14:02. Bostwick and Cale Markham, the coach’s son, got the assists.
With 24 seconds left in the period Wyatt Liston, on a pass from Spencer Donnelly, made it 3-0.
Powers coach Travis Perry was taken aback by his team’s poor start. In Powers’ first 28 games the Chargers outscored their opponents 44-8 in the first period.
“It was our worst period of the season,” he said. “We came out flat. To give up three goals that fast, and the third in the last minute, you never want to do that.
“Our problem has been holding leads. Even in the games we’ve lost we’ve had the lead. Against (Grand Rapids) Forest Hills Central we led 2-0 before they came back to tie it.”
Powers (20-9) defeated Central in the quarterfinals, 3-2 in overtime.
That 3-0 cushion gave Houghton an immediate boost of confidence, and it carried over into the final two periods.
“We’ve been struggling scoring goals,” defenseman Riley McKay said. “That really gave us a lift.”
Jacob Kruse’s goal at 2:23 of the second made it 4-0.
Powers played well after that poor start and could have had a couple more goals but goaltender Marcus Gloss stood up to the challenge. His save on Conor Witherspoon at point blank range at the five-minute mark of the second period kept the Chargers off the scoreboard.
Witherspoon’s goal on an assist from Brendan Smith made it 4-1 at 1:04 of the third.
Powers than had a five-minute power play but again Gloss shut the door.
Gloss had 28 saves and Kane made 18 for Powers.
“That was probably the best game we played all season,” coach Markham said. “Our intensity was high.”
The last time Houghton and Cranbrook Kingswood played was last season before the tournament. Cranbrook Kingswood won 5-1.