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Saturday September 23, 2023
ORANGE & BLACK ALUMNI: Esky Hockey Night

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos, and hear post-game comments from goaltender Nick LeMire, and "old-timers' Bryce Groleau and Clay Stearns.

The Escanaba High School hockey team braved the cold, wind, and snow outside to host its annual Alumni Night Friday at the Wells Sports Complex. There were two 60-minute long games: one with mostly older Esky graduates, and the other with mostly recent grads.

The "old-timers" game saw a father vs son match-up in goaltender, with former Eskymo Coach Pat Goddard and his son Brodie suiting up at opposite ends of the ice. The younger Goddard prevailed, as the White team won the game, 12-7.

Brodie Goddard had to play another 60 minutes of hockey in the second game, and played well, but not as well as his counterpart, Nick LeMire.

The 2014 graduate LeMire made an incredible 54 saves (unofficially) as the White team held off the Black in a well-played game, 4-3.

"I felt pretty rough," LeMaire said, after playing his first hockey game in more than a year. "I got tired after the first couple of shots. Even the warm-up was pretty tough, but it felt good after a while. It's a good group of guys. Just fast. Got into it, just like the glory days!"

Brent Kallio scored three times and Kyle Krutina added the othet goal for the White team, which was badly outplayed territorially. But LeMire made save after save, keeping his team alive after he gave up two quick goals in the final two minutes of the first period.

Nick Kolich, the 2020 Eskymo captain, was stopped multiple times by LeMire, but Kolich managed to tie the game at 3-3 in the third period with a shot from a rough angle. But Kallio was able to get one by a tired Goddard, and then LeMire held the fort the rest of the way.

In the earlier game, the White team jumped off to a 7-1 lead and cruised to a 12-7 win. Alex Harvala scored three goals and Matt Hughes scored twice for the winning team.

"It's always a good time," said Clay Stearns, who also scored the White team. "It's Eskymo hockey, and it's up-and-coming here. Andy (Johnson, Eskymo coach) did a great job putting all this together. It's nice when we can all get back together and see some of the guys we played with. It's always a good time."

One of the biggest cheers was for a goal scored from the point by Nick Kolich (aka Big Nick), who coached for years in the Escanaba Junior Hockey Association.

Another former Eskymo Coach, Bryce Groleau, was happy to see the Alumni game tradition revived at the Holidays.

"It's great to get the guys back, and see all the kids we've coached through the years and played with," Groleau said. "I'm glad it came back this year. It was a lot of fun."

The current Eskymo High School team will be back in action on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning at a showcase tournament in Alpena. The Eskymos will play the host Alpena Wildcats Tuesday night at 6:20, and the Dexter Dreadnaughts at 11:00 Wednesday morning.

The Tuesday game will be broadcast on Maverick 106.3 FM and the Maverick app (due to the Escanaba-Gladstone basketball doubleheader on WCHT). The Wednesday game will be back on the Voice of Eskymo Hockey, FM-93.5, AM-600 and www.rrnsports.com.

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