TRAVERSE CITY — If the Traverse City Hounds are to win the Veteran’s Memorial Cup, they’ll have to come from behind to do it.
The Soo Firehawks, led by goalie Anthony Benvenuiti’s 43 saves, edged the Hounds 3-2 Friday night in the opener of the Midwest Junior Hockey League’s championship series at Centre ICE.
The best-of-three series resumes tonight at 7.
“Detroit beat us in the first game last weekend (in a best-of-three semifinal),” Soo coach Joe Esson said. “It’s a three-game series. We haven’t won anything yet. Not at all.”
The Hounds outshot the Firehawks 45-25, but took some inopportune penalties, especially in the third period.
“It seemed like every time we gained some momentum we took it away from ourselves,” Hounds coach Scott Gardiner said. “Penalties took a toll on us.
“I thought our effort was good. I’ll take an effort like that again (tonight). But we need to be more disciplined. We need to play a more penalty-free game. That’s hard to do, but we need to strive for that.”
Down 2-1 early in the third period, Traverse City was whistled for two infractions in a three-second span, giving the Firehawks a 5-on-3 advantage. It didn’t take long for Nick Murphy, named the league’s top forward earlier in the day, to capitalize. Murphy’s shot from the point beat goalie David Krejcik.
That proved to be the game-winner.
The Hounds cut the deficit to 3-2 with 11 minutes remaining when Cam Fisher banged in a rebound that Benvenuiti could not gather. Jacob Gillis drew the assist. But Traverse City took two penalties in the final 3:47, one wiping out a man advantage.
After a scoreless first period, the Firehawks struck just over a minute into the second frame on a Ryan Marshall shot from the wing. Traverse City evened the count midway through the period when Scott Luca converted on a 5-on-3 advantage. Alexander Grizzel and Josh Smith assisted. That lead lasted less than five minutes when Justin Garton poked in a shot during a scramble in front of the goal.