After taking some time to soften up Huron’s defense with a barrage of shots and rugged play at both ends of the ice, Pioneer’s offense finally found its range in the second and third periods and emerged with an 8-1 win over the River Rats Wednesday night at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube.
Like most cross-town rivalry games, leadership from upperclassmen is always a critical determinant in the outcome and Wednesday night proved to be no exception.
Led by Jack Miling (3 goals, 1 assist), Cas Mankowski (2 goals), and Jack Reid (1 goal, 3 assists), Pioneer’s senior captains dictated the pace of play throughout most of the contest.
Mankowski, in particular, was a fearsome physical presence along the boards and in the corners. Senior goalie Patrick Newton turned away 23 of the 24 shots he faced, and consistently frustrated Huron forwards on any scoring chances that did manage to break through the Pioneer defense.
With the game firmly in control, Pioneer Coach Frank Garcia experimented with some new line combinations and many of the underclassmen saw extended ice time throughout the evening.
Junior standout Wyatt Bullinger rounded out the scoring by chipping in two goals for the Pioneers (2-3 overall).
If the relentless Pioneer offensive pressure was Wednesday’s headline, it was could have easily been shared with Huron senior netminder and captain Ethan St. Pierre, who that kept the River Rats from seeing their night ending much earlier. St.Pierre faced 72 shots and 4 of the 8 goals surrendered came on Pioneer power plays.
Alex Coulter scored Huron’s lone goal after taking a pass from Will Downer.
Although outmanned and outgunned on this particular evening, Huron’s icers never backed down from the challenge and battled gamely until the final horn sounded.
Pioneer returns to action this Saturday at 2 p.m. when they host Woodhaven at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube.