• HS Girls Basketball 12/3: Gwinn 41, Brimley 31
  • HS Girls Basketball 12/3: Escanaba 50, McBain 42
  • HS Hockey 12/3: Marquette 9, Midland Dow 0
  • HS Hockey 12/3: Kingsford 3, Cheboygan 0
  • HS Hockey 12/3: Negaunee 11, Monroe Catholic Central 4
  • College Hockey 12/3: Michigan Tech 3, Northern Michigan 1
  • College Basketball 12/3: Dakota County (Minn) 69, Bay College 67
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Tuesday December 6, 2022

WELLS---Somewhere, Mark Bruce is smiling. All Eskymo hockey fans remember Bruce (also known as "Pudge") who scored a goal in overtime to help the Eskymos beat the Marquette Redmen in a 2007 playoff game. That goal was waived off, incorrectly, by the on-ice officials at Lakeview Arena.

Marquette ended up winning that 2007 game in triple overtime, 4-3.

But Thursday night, six years later, the Escanaba Eskymos finally got one for "Pudge", and for all of the Eskymo hockey players who served as Marquette's punching bag on the way to long tournament runs.

Escanaba played its best game of the year when it mattered most, beating the Redmen, 3-1, in the Division Two regional semifinal at the Wells Sports Complex. The team finally put together three solid periods of hockey, leading to a delirious celebration that still hasn't ended.

"There's a lot of people that counted us out a long time ago," said an emotional Eskymo Coach Tim McCarthy. "You know what? It takes time to build up, and this was our 'second season'."

"Those kids are just very emotional right now," McCarthy continued. "They've been pumped all week. This was an awesome week all week. They were ready. You could tell when you first walked into the locker room today that these guys were ready." 

"We were very excited in the locker room," Eskymo senior goaltender Austin Young said. "There's not many words to describe how we're feeling. We practiced hard throughout the week, focused on the game, and just played it."

"It was crazy in the locker room," Eskymo sophomore Derek Chaillier said. "Everyone was freaking out. It was awesome."

The Eskymos did most of the "little things" right in this game. They won their share of one-on-one battles along the boards and in the corners.

They took the body when the Redmen delivered a hit, but they also put on some strong checks themselves. The Esky players forechecked and backchecked well, and they were responsible on defense, using the boards to knock the puck out of their zone when the Redmen pressed. And Young was on his game, despite the flu bug.

In the November 29th Marquette-Escanaba game here in Wells, Young let in several goals he would have liked to have back. But in this one, his angles were right, and his glove hand was fast. His vision was good, and he moved well, post-to-post, across the goal crease. Even so...

"I feel sicker than a dog," said the pale-faced Young. "I feel terrible."

"He texted me today, and he said 'I am ready'," McCarthy said. "And he sure was. The problem with Austin is that bhe makes it look easy."

The only thing the Eskymos did not do well was stay out of the penalty box. It was just 40 seconds into the game when Nick Vandermissen was called for boarding. Marquette's power play is usually lethal, and there was pressure on this penalty kill for the Eskymos.

In one sequense, Young made a save and the puck was bouncing in the blue paint. That's when Chaillier made the save as the puck appeared to be about ready to cross the goal line. He got the puck and swept it safely down the ice.

"I was just standing there, and it went through Austin," said Chaillier, who bailed out Young during a game in Marquette earlier this season with a desperation save. "I just happened to be there and I hit it out."

"Derek's my cousin," Young said, then, he added with a laugh, "Personally, I think he takes after me."

"And he's a sophomore," McCarthy said. "He did an awesome job. He came to play. I'm very happy with him, and with all of the guys."

It stayed 1-0 until the Eskymos got some pressure on Redman goaltender Evan Kyle.

And senior Ryan LaMarch came through by scoring on a rebound 6:15 into the game. It was 1-0, and Young kept it that way, with tough saves on Forrest Folker and Kyle Carriere.

The Redmen had two more power plays, as Ben Lasecki got called for interference late in the first period, and Cody Cousineau was called for a hold early in the second period.

The Eskymos killed off both power plays, and then took a 2-0 lead when Ryan Meintz scored during a big scramble.

Marquette would get another power play when Quintin McCarthy got called for cross-checking. Young made three saves during that penalty kill.

Then, late in the period, Hunter Bradford was called for slashing. And Marquette took advantage, with Shawn Cornock scoring a goal with just 24 seconds left in the period. Marquette was within 2-1.

And in the third period, Devin Barton was called for interference, giving the Redmen their sixth power play. But the Eskymo penalty kill continued to be strong, and the score remained 2-1.

Both goaltenders had big saves from there, with Kyle robbing Vandermissen with 6:35 left, and Young returning the favor with a glove save of a Collin Schwemin shot with 4:15 left. And then, the clincher.

Vandermissen made a nice move at center ice, got the puck into the Redman zone. And "animal line" teammate Ben Lasecki scored off his backhand to make it 3-1 with 1:07 left in the game.

McCarthy called a time out to settle down his excited Eskymo players, because, as the Calumet Collapse proved earlier this season, it ain't over 'till it's over. But the guys finished those final 67 seconds with the Redman net empty, and the Eskymos celebrated their biggest victory.

"Some of our kids, I take my hat off to them, because they finally stepped up and played the way that we know they can play," McCarthy said. "They came out and did what they had to do. Marquette threw everything at us. Our kids responded. We played against all the odds."

"We've just got to work hard, and keep it going," Young said. "Let's see how far we can go."

"Everybody's attitude has been so much better," Chaillier said. "We had been negative on the bench sometimes. But things have started to get positive, and now, it's working. This is so sweet!"

And so it's the Eskymos, left for dead after a string of close losses and an awful weekend in the Keewenaw, who will be headed downstate on Friday to play in Gaylord.

Not the Redmen, who, it should be noted, played hard in this game but didn't seem to have the passion that the Eskymo players had.

They Eskymos played without senior assistant captain Bryce Wolf, who missed the game because of a seperated shoulder suffered in Monday's win over Negaunee. But there was Wolf, at the end of the game, hugging his teammates, with his arm in a protective sling.

Marquette outshot Escanaba, 36-26. But Young was equal to the task. The Redmen had six power plays (1-6); the Eskymos had just one.

Choose team:
Date Time Opponent Score Record
7:00 PM
at Escanaba Eskymos
1 - 3 (L)

Escanaba's Kallio Leads Atlanta To National Title
Tuesday April 3, 2012
Eskymos Lose OT Heartbreaker In Regionals
Saturday March 24, 2012
Escanaba Grad Kallio To Play For National Title
Saturday March 24, 2012
Escanaba Hockey Association Presents Awards
Tuesday March 20, 2012
Eskymos Celebrate Season At Post-Banquet
Friday March 16, 2012
Eskymos Open Playoffs With 3-0 Victory
Monday February 27, 2012