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6006 articles
Monday July 22, 2024
SEASON OVER: Eskymos Eliminated By Houghton

Click the AUDIO button to hear Eskymo Coach Andy Johnson post-game comments. (Houghton HS photo)

In their hearts, the Escanaba High School hockey players truly believed that they could beat the best team in the State of Michigan in Saturday's state quarterfinal game at Marquette's Lakeview Arena. But in their heads, the guys all knew that their season was not going to extend past that game against the Houghton Gremlins.


Any question about it was probably answered 98 seconds into the game when the Gremlins scored their first goal of the game. And a little over an hour later, the death nail was delivered early in the third period as the Gremlins mercied the Eskymos, 8-0.


Houghton will play in the MHSAA Division Three state semifinals next weekend at USA Hockey Arena in the Detroit suburb of Plymouth, while the Eskymos have to take comfort in the fact that they won 20 games this winter and were one of only two Upper Peninsula high school hockey teams left standing.


“This turned out to be one of the top two or three seasons in Eskymo hockey history,” Escanaba hockey coach Andy Johnson said. “You just give them hugs, and give the seniors extra-tight hugs. It's been, for me, two years with these seniors as head coach. You just tell them, it's been a great run, and wish them luck in their future.”


Houghton showed why it has been the top-ranked team all season by bulldozing the Eskymos from start to finish. The Gremlins outshot the Eskymos, 52-11, and Mike Maillette scored five goals to lead the Houghton attack.


Gremlin Leading scorer Cam Markham turned into more of a facilitator, with no goals, but having three assists. Landon Stevens added four assists for a playmaker as well.


The Gremlins led, 5-0, after the first period, 7-0 after two, and then put the game away with a Maillette goal with nearly seven minutes gone by in the third period.


Escanaba's goose was cooked, so to speak, when captain Sawyer LaMarch was given a five-minute major penalty for boarding, with a ten-minute misconduct attached for 15 total minutes of penalties.


Not the way the heart and soul of the Eskymo team, a four-year player and fourth in the line of brothers who put on the Orange and Black, wanted to end his Eskymo career.


Despite the way it ended, Johnson says the future is bright, with a group of freshmen led by his son, Graham, along with Nolan Bink, and goaltender Cully Hayes, just to name a few, ready to keep the program moving forward.


“They've taken that work ethic from this group of seniors,” Johnson said. “Without those (senior) guys showing them how to work, how to play, I mean, that's the thing that these younger guys are going to take from this season.”


Hayes, who played every single second of every single Eskymo game in between the pipes this season, ended up making 44 saves on those 52 shots on Saturday.


Escanaba finishes its season as regional champs with a 20-8-0 record. Houghton improved to 26-2-0 and they will face East Grand Rapids in the state semifinals.

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