WELLS - Finding the back of the net hasn't been a problem for the Escanaba hockey team most of this season.
That continued to be the case Saturday as the Eskymos skated to a 9-1 triumph over Painesdale Jeffers in the championship game of the Dick Johnsen Memorial tournament.
Senior forward Nick Vandermissen hit five goals, including three in the first period as the Eskymos built a 4-0 advantage
Paul Gerard photo
Levi Wunder of Escanaba fires the puck past Jeffers goaltender Dax Durocher Saturday at Escanaba. The Eskymos won 9-1.
"Levi (Wunder) set me up with four (goals), and I was just shooting good today," said Vandermissen. "We have a lot of speed on our team, which tends to tire out our opponents and give us more chances to score."
Wunder, who added a pair of goals, ended the contest by the mercy rule on a slapshot from between the circles two minutes, 16 seconds into the third period.
Esky (7-2) has won six straight since falling to Macomb Dakota 8-0 on Dec. 7 at Traverse City.
Jeffers 0 1 0 - 1
Escanaba 4 4 1 - 9
E - Vandermissen (Wunder), 1:23
E - Eastin (Lasecki), 3:44
E - Vandermissen (unassisted), 7:57
E - Vandermissen (Eastin) (PP), 12:50
E - Wunder (unassisted), 0:13
J - Wesa (Harris), 4:57
E - Vandermissen (Wunder), 6:17
E - Vandermissen (Wunder), 10:07
E - Myrick (unassisted) (PP), 13:00
E - Wunder (unassisted), 2:16
Power plays - Escanaba 2-5, Painesdale Jeffers 0-0.
Penalties - Escanaba 0-0, Painesdale Jeffers 5-10
Goaltender saves - Escanaba (LeMire 8), Painesdale Jeffers (Durocher 23).
"I bring that up a lot," said Esky coach Tim McCarthy. "We weren't prepared for them, which shows you can't afford to take chances. You have to be ready to play everytime, and I'm very happy with the way we started today."
The Eskymos began this streak with a 4-1 triumph over Utica Eisenhower at Traverse City on Dec. 8 and have since mercied five consecutive opponents.
Vandermissen opened the scoring from the low slot just 83 seconds into the Saturday's game.
Senior forward Jake Eastin gave Esky a two-goal cushion on a shot from the left faceoff circle 3:44 into the contest.
Vandermissen then struck from between the circles at 11:40 and from the low slot on a power play 70 seconds later.
"They're good," Jeffers coach David Bekkala said of the Eskymos. "There's no doubt in my mind they're a quality team. It would have taken a phenomenal effort on our part to beat them. At the same time, we're disappointed that we didn't put in a better performance. I felt that Escanaba wanted the puck and we didn't, and it showed on the scoreboard. Obviously, they're in better shape they we are."
Wunder raised the count to 5-0 on a breakaway only 13 seconds into the second stanza.
Senior forward Travis Wesa then put the Jets (5-4) on the board by scoring from the low slot at 4:57.
Vandermissen added goals on a rebound and from the low slot to put Esky up 7-1 midway through the second, and T.J. Myrick added a goal on a 5-on-3 power play to make it 8-1 with four minutes left in the period.
"We're very happy with our power play," said McCarthy. "We came out strong right away and finished our checks. There have been times where we letdown a little in other games. We didn't have any of that today. We moved the puck real well. Jeffers has a very good team, and they fought hard. We just kept the pressure on them."
Esky outshot the Jets 32-9. Junior goaltender Nick LeMire stopped eight shots and Jeffers junior Max Durocher had 23 saves.
"We have to get back to the basics," said Bekkala. "We're going to be facing more strong opponents, and we can't just roll over."
Esky resumes Friday at 6 p.m., meeting Negaunee in the Jeffers New Year's tournament at Michigan Tech. The Jets then face downstate Grand Blanc at 8.
In the consolation game, Negaunee snapped an eight-game losing streak by whipping Monroe, Wis. 11-3.
Sophomore forward Ryan Syrjala paced Negaunee (2-8) with three goals and two assists. Michael Farley also scored a hat trick and Cole Francis added a pair of goals.
The Avalanche (0-8) outshot the Miners 35-34 in a game which ended by the mercy rule late in the third frame.