MARQUETTE - Escanaba Eskymos head coach Tim McCarthy had his team skating hard right out of the gate in their season opener Tuesday night at Lakeview Arena. It paid dividends as Escanaba defeated the Marquette Redmen 7-5.
The win gives Escanaba back-to-back victories over Marquette for the first time in the series since 1989.
Mike L'Huillier Returned as head coach at Marquette after eight years away from the position and watched MSHS fall in an early hole it couldn't get out of.
Matt Keiser | Marquette Mining Journal
Escanaba’s Levi Wunder gains possession of the puck as Marquette’s Cam Place skates alongside him during the first period at Lakeview Arena in Marquette, Tuesday evening. Escanaba won 7-5.
The Eskymos scored three times in the game's first 6 1/2 minutes and never let Marquette get closer than two goals the rest of the way.
"I'm very impressed with Escanaba," L'Huillier said. "This is the best skating team I've ever seen from them.
"We made some mistakes early, but I'm very happy because I feel that we outplayed them in the second and third periods."
Those early mistakes by a young Redmen defense led directly to goals, according to their coach, such as a cross-ice pass in their defensive zone and another while killing an early penalty.
It led to two first-period goals by the Eskymos' Jake Eastin, one on a power play, en route to a hat trick and four-point night. Teammate Nick Vandermissen added two goals and a three-assist playmaker, while T.J. Myrick scored twice.
"I don't know how I could start my season any better," said Escanaba coach Tim McCarthy. "We carried over a lot of the momentum from last year, especially the juniors and seniors from last year. We made some mistakes, but it didn't cost us the game. Marquette made more."
He added that he's got some kids that are a little banged up, but they were still able to do some good work out there.
"A lot of kids on our team aren't 100 percent, but we got a lot of leadership from our older players," he said. "Levi Wunder did an awesome job for us."
Marquette's Forest Folker also had two goals to go with an assist, while Shawn Cornock, Scott Frazier and Justin Cain added single tallies. Teammates Jake Phillips and Tyler Jackson contributed two assists a piece.
"I'm proud of my team for not quitting," L'Huillier said. "We had some chances after we pulled our goaltender late in the game, too.
"But right now, I'd have to say Escanaba is the team to beat come playoff time."
Marquette got on the board about four minutes into the second period, cutting Esky's advantage to 3-1, but goals by Vandermissen 1:45 apart proved to be a backbreaker for the Redmen.
Especially the first one that came at 5:13 as Escanaba was in a 5-on-3 shorthanded situation.
MSHS did fight back to pull within 5-3 by the end of the second following goals by Folker and Frazier, but the Eskymos pulled away a final time with goals 1:19 apart in the third to re-establish a four-goal cushion.
Folker and Justin Cain scored in the game's final six minutes, but it wasn't enough to stave off defeat.
Nick LeMire worked in the Escanaba net, coming away with 42 saves on 47 shots, while goalies Ethan Wiese and Evan Kyle split duties for Marquette. Kyle entering the game early in the second period. Between the two of them, they stopped 25 of 32 shots.
First period - 1. Escanaba, Jake Eastin (Nick Vandermissen), 0:40; 2. Escanaba, Eastin (Derek Challier, Vandermissen), ppg, 5:23; 3. Escanaba, T.J. Myrick (Levi Wunder), 6:17
Second period - 4. Marquette, Shawn Cornock (unassisted), 4:05; 5. Escanaba, Vandermissen (Eastin), shg, 5:13; 6. Escanaba, Vandermissen (unassisted), 6:58; 7. Marquette, Forest Folker (Tyler Jackson, Jake Phillips), 8:34; 8. Marquette, Scott Frazier (Folker, Jackson), 14:12.
Third period - 9. Escanaba, Myrick (Steve Wood), 10:43; 10. Escanaba, Eastin (Vandermissen), 12:01; 11. Marquette, Folker (unassisted), 12:10; 12. Marquette, Justin Cain (Phillips), 15:13.
Power-play opportunities: Escanaba, 1 of 4; Marquette, 0 of 7
Penalties: Escanaba, 7-14; Marquette, 4-11
Goalie saves: Escanaba, Nick LeMire, 42; Marquette, Ethan Wiese, Evan Kyle at 5:13 second period, 25 saves total.