Batchewana Attack and Espanola Rivermen scored home-ice victories in Canadian International Hockey League action on Friday.
BATCHEWANA 4, KALKASKA 2
The Attack improved its unbeaten record to 11-0 with a hard-fought win over the visitors from Michigan.
Johan Kling, Jacob Palmerio, Sergei Koroshun and Drake Pilon scored for Batchewana, which dressed only 14 players because of injuries and suspensions.
Thomas Steven and Dan Bellafiore scored for Kalkaska, which received outstanding goalkeeping from Brian Canter, who made 53 saves.
The lanky Canter, showing focus and poise despite a steady barrage of Batchewana shots, kept Kalkaska in the game with multiple eye-popping saves.
Attack coach Denny Lambert gave credit to both teams.
“We had to fight for every inch of ice to win against a good, well-coached Kalkaska team,” said Lambert. “With only 14 players, our team was so exhausted they where hunched over after every shift gasping for air.”
Kalkaska, which just joined the realigned CIHL, played with a lot of energy and despite being outshot 57-27, showed considerable heart and determination.
Kalkaska coach Krzysztof Oliwa, the former National Hockey League enforcer of more than 400 games and Stanley Cup champion from his days with the New Jersey Devils, is thrilled to be a part of the CIHL.
“I think the excitement over joining the CIHL played a little part in a 4-2 loss in what was a fairly-even game until the third period. Batchewana played solid hockey and dominated in the third. It’s a great stepping stone for our team in terms of player development. All our players are focused and committed to become the best possible student-athletes and the CIHL has given them this opportunity. The Oliwa Hockey Academy and the Kalkaska Rhinos are very grateful to have (president) Tim Clayden as the leader of our league,” said Oliwa, who was known as the ‘Polish Hammer’ during his NHL playing days.
ESPANOLA 4, ST. CHARLES 1
A crowd of 488 watched the hometown Rivermen get 31 saves from goalie Trevor Kalinowski en route to victory over the Spirit.
Alex Zerbel scored twice to pace Espanola, which got solo goals from Barry Pitawanakwat and Dan Nicholas.
Dallas Miller replied for St. Charles.
“We put in another solid game,” said Espanola coach Tom McCarthy. “We played a good defence with solid goaltending and an offense that didn’t capitalize on all its opportunities. We’re slowly starting to compete as a team consistently.”
Trevor Blanchard, who took over as the new coach for St. Charles just two days ago, was happy with the effort of his team.
“Espanola got the best of us due to a great power play that cost us four goals against,” said Blanchard. “If the game was simply five-on-five we had the edge. We played well and hard for the entire game.”
Espanola is home to Kalkaska this afternoon in a 2 p.m. start.
Tonight, Batchewana plays host to St. Charles in a 7 p.m. match.
PHOTO: Batchewana coach Denny Lambert.