Showing some promise
Young Esky hockey team regroups after 1-1 start
ESCANABA — The Escanaba Eskymos are taking a little break from competition after starting their season 1-1.
Esky opened with a 4-1 road victory over Kingsford, then fell to Houghton 4-0 at home last week.
“That’s not a bad start,” said coach Matt Hughes, who was gone on a family vacation last week. “That was a very good win over Kingsford. I heard the guys worked on some new plays, played hard and created some scoring chances.
“Houghton always has a tough team. Corey (coach Markham) does a great job up there. I understand they were very disciplined on their forecheck.”
Esky, which lost nine players through graduation, has 19 on this year’s team.
“We have eight new faces out of 19 kids,” said Hughes. “That’s quite a few. It will take a little time to get them up to speed, but they’re working hard, which is a good sign. I think they’re picking up on things pretty well.”
The Eskymos resume at Marquette Tuesday before hosting Sault Ste. Marie Dec. 6-7.
“That will be a very tough game (at Marquette),” said Hughes. “They’re Marquette. They do a good job on all levels. Sault will be a good test for us. Hopefully, we’ll get some kinks worked out.
“It was nice to get a few games in because you don’t know where you stand until you get some games in. Having this break gives us a chance to work on a few things.”
Captains are senior forward Kyle Krutina, who’s ranked 74th among the top 100 players to watch in a statewide poll, and junior Nick Kolich. Another senior leader is forward Ethan Silverstone.
“Kyle had a very good weekend and Nick leads by example,” said Hughes.
“Both are hard workers. We have some good senior leadership this year.”
The Eskymos have three goaltenders, including senior Trevor Denome. His back-ups are sophomores Bryce Buchbinder and Dylan Ziemke.
“We had four try out and decided to take three,” said Hughes. “We wanted to give these guys some practice time this year. Trevor got the majority of the minutes last year and made a lot of saves last weekend. He has been working very hard. As far as we’re concerned, he has the top spot. Right now, I’d say Bryce and Dylan are battling for the No. 2 spot. They’ll probably get in a few games this year.”
This year’s team also features three sets of brothers for the first time including Kyle Krutina, and sophomore forward Karson Krutina, junior forward Spencer and sophomore defenseman Gunner Bourdeau and sophomore Jayger and freshman Sawyer LaMarch, who are cousins to freshman Brayden Martineau.
“We’ve never had that before,” said Hughes. “I think it’s a good thing. Younger brother always wants to out-do bigger brother. It makes for good competition and interesting conversation around the table.”
Leading defensemen are seniors Luke Labre, Grant LaMarche and Braden Reinhart.
Additional newcomers include sophomores Clayton Smith and Kobie Petrich and freshmen Brayden Sundquist and Trevor Streichert.
“We have a good group of kids,” said Hughes. “It looks like their willing to work and learn. It looks like we’ll have a fun and successful year.”
The remaining schedule:
Dec. 3 — at Marquette; Dec. 6-7 — Sault Ste. Marie; Dec. 9 — at Negaunee; Dec. 20 — Hancock; Dec. 27-28 — at Alpena Showcase.
Jan. 3 — Painesdale Jeffers at Michigan Tech; Jan. 7 — Kingsford; Jan. 10-11 — at Traverse Bay Reps Showcase; Jan. 16 — Marquette; Jan. 21 — Calumet; Jan. 24 — at Houghton; Jan. 25 — at Calumet; Jan. 30-31 — at Chelsea Showcase.
Feb. 1 — at Chelsea Showcase; Feb. 4 — Negaunee; Feb. 7 — Gaylord; Feb. 20 — at Hancock; Feb. 22 — Painesdale Jeffers.