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Luke Cowan scores twice, Hartland shows its might by defeating Sault Ste. Marie, 3-1

By: Ben Szilagy, February 6, 2016, 6:04 pm

Trenton — Hartland has drawn a lot of attention heading into the MIHL Showcase this weekend. The Eagles have rattled off impressive wins over traditional powers Birmingham Brother Rice, Brighton and Trenton, and once had an 11-game win streak during the season.

Hartland coach Rick Gadwa said that it’s not always that easy.

“In the second game of a showcase you hope your team shows up to play, and that they start on time,” he said. “When everything is rolling, everything is great. We’ve started to slow down a bit lately.

“That’s when you look to your leaders to step up.”

Hartland rode one of its leaders, senior Luke Cowan, to a 3-1 win over Sault Ste. Marie on Saturday at Kennedy Ice Arena in Trenton.

The Eagles’ leading scorer got things going just before the end of the first period, when Hartland (18-2) got the break it needed.

With the Blue Devils (12-6-1) on the power play, senior forward Cowan forced a turnover at the blue line. The senior raced the puck down into the Sault Ste. Marie end and drifted into the slot before putting the Eagles up 1-0 with 14 seconds to play.

“I just found my legs today,” Cowan said. “I had some good looks yesterday. But that first goal today doesn’t happen without Jake Gallaher crashing the net, and screening the goaltender.”

The bounces continued to go Cowan’s way in the second when he launched a puck over the net that hit the glass. The puck caromed perfectly back to Cowan in front of the net where he gave the Eagles a 2-0 lead.

“He’s got this second chance ability that I’ve never seen,” Gadwa said. “He’s had a couple of those this season where the puck just finds him.”

Junior forward Brendan Lipon capped Hartland’s scoring a minute later when he was fed the puck on the short side. Lipon offered a shot that was turned away but he found the net on his own rebound.

Sault Ste. Marie wouldn’t be kept off the board in a third period that was marred by penalties. The Blue Devils had a 4-on-3 advantage when senior Hunter Krause prevented the shutout with a 3-1 goal with three minutes to play.

Gadwa said that, despite the late goal, this weekend was really good for senior goaltender Christian Spangler.

“When you can get your goalie to turn down shots, and freeze the puck, those things really help out,” he said. “This was a good weekend for Christian. He’s a guy were going to need down the stretch if we’re going to make a run at a league and state championship.”