Eisenhower picks up narrow win over Wyandotte Roosevelt at MIHL Showcase
TRENTON — Entering the MIHL Showcase, Utica Eisenhower had struggled on the power play. Even coach Bob Hall couldn’t understand why.
The Eagles finally broke through with the man advantage to help post a 2-1 shootout victory against Wyandotte on Friday, which resulted in their second win of the showcase and third in a row overall.
All season long, the Eagles (18-3) had found more success playing a man down while killing penalties than even playing at even strength, Hall explained.
“Our Achilles’ heel right now has been the power play. For whatever reason, we’re snake bitten on the power play,” he said. “We can’t pinpoint it. I don’t know if it’s our guys rushing too much or a lack of focus. We finally got a goal on the power play.
"It was ugly, but it went in. That’s really all you can do is try to get the puck in the net," he added, "and hope that it breaks the curse.”
Utica Eisenhower senior Drew Sabina scored on the power play at the 12:06 mark of the third period as he streaked across the zone and knotted up the score at 1-1, forcing the shootout.
“It’s tough playing back-to-back like we did," Hall said. "We played two really good teams in this showcase within 24 hours, but it prepares us for the road ahead.
“Their goalie played great. He made us work for every goal that we got. We were happy to walk out of here with a win.”
Wyandotte (13-5) took an early lead on just its third shot on goal of the first period. Junior defensemen Austin McFarland intercepted the puck and fed it to fellow junior Matthew Calhoun, creating a two-on-one for the Bears.
Calhoun found senior Andrew Storey trailing the play. Storey buried a slap shot for his 15th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead.
Bears goaltender Chandler Pattenaude was impenetrable for much of the contest, especially late in the second period when Wyandotte had to kill a five-minute major penalty and during a five-on-three in the last five minutes of the period. Wyandotte also had a power play goal waived off in the second period.
“We scouted them pretty good last night,” Wyandotte coach Mike Quint said. “We knew how they’d attack us with the man advantage. We needed Chandler to play the way he did, and he was rock solid.”
The shootout, however, was a different story for both teams.
Eisenhower scored on all three of its chances in the overtime format. Jack Tobiczyk, Sabina and Alex Kraski all found the net with backhand shots..
“Strangely enough, our players don’t use their backhand enough in practice,” Hall said. “We’ve tried to emphasize it a little bit more lately, and it’s started to find its way into games.”
Wyandotte countered with a goal by Griffen Maiani, who slipped the puck between the pads of the Eisenhower goaltender.
Eisenhower gets a couple of days off before hosting Anchor Bay on Tuesday, while Wyandotte faces off against Grand Rapids Catholic Central at 2:40 p.m. Saturday in its second game of the MIHL showcase.