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HOCKEY: Northern offense explodes against Pinckney

WATERFORD – The Walled Lake Northern Knights boys ice hockey team got off to a fast start and downed the Pinckney Pirates 8-2 Saturday afternoon.

The Knights broke the game open late in the first period with three goals in just over three minutes. Austin Samson opened the scoring for Walled Lake Northern with 5:42 to play in the first period when he slipped through four Pinckney players and fired a wrist shot into the top corner for a magical goal that seemed to stun the Pirates. While they were recovering, Cooper Higgins and Brody Droner added quick goals to turn a tie game into a 3-0 game heading into the first intermission.

“It’s been an issue we’ve brought into this year. We start to gain momentum, and we let the goal in that kind of deflates the air out of us, and it happened again tonight,” Pirates head coach Tim Kroll said.

The Knights had everything clicking on Saturday, rolling all four lines and getting contributions from players up and down the roster as 13 different player registered at least one point and six different players scored goals led by Brody Dorner’s four points (a goal and three assists) and three points each from Samson and from David Markey, each of whom had two goals and an assist. Austin Michael also scored for the Knights.

“It was a team effort. Everybody worked together. All four lines were firing, and the goalie played well, and that’s what it takes,” Knights head coach Tim McGraw said. “When you play against a team that compete with you at the same level, then you have to do the little things to make the big things happen. The little things are the things that generate the big things. When you can do that, sometimes the puck rolls in for you,” he added.

Knights goaltender Jeremy Makkonen stopped 29 shots to earn the win, including several spectacular saves when the game was close.

Pinckney fought to the end though; despite trailing 5-0 late in the second period, the Pirates kept fighting and got goal from Mark Janiga and Nolan Lefebvre. But in the end it wasn’t enough for a young team that was playing their second game in as many days.

Still, Pirates coach Ted Kroll looked at the game as a building block for his youthful squad. “There’s a growth and learning process. We have a lot of sophomores, freshmen, and a lot of roleplaying guys from last year that are learning that first and second line roles, so there’s growing pains. But as long as we get by playoffs, start improving, I’ll be happy with our progress,” Kroll said. “We’ve been working on a different forecheck, and it worked well. We’ve got to work on that, get that down better, and it to our repertoire and build off the fact that we’ve had some bad breaks,” he added.

With the win, Walled Lake Northern improves to 3-4 overall and 2-1 in KLAA North. “Overall, two points in league play, that’s a big step for us,” McGraw said. The Knights head north next week for a road game in Cheboygan and a tournament in Petoskey.

Pinckney is 4-5 (1-3 in KLAA West). The Pirates host Saline on Monday.

Last Updated: 12/14/2013 7:10:17 PM EST

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