TRAVERSE CITY — This hockey game had a little bit of everything.
Except a winner.
Traverse City Central and Cadillac battled to an offense-filled 6-6 draw Wednesday at Howe Arena.
The contest not only featured a dozen goals, but also was highlighted by a Central goal waived off due to an inadvertent horn and a too-many-players-on-the-ice penalty in overtime.
“It was an exciting game,” said Cadillac coach Scott Graham, whose team led 6-4 in the third period. “I’m obviously a little disappointed in the outcome. You’ve got to play until the very end. It’s true in anything you do — you’ve got to finish.
“It would be nice to have a shootout. Why not? It seems to be good enough at a lot of other levels.”
TC Central scored the game’s last two goals to even it up after Cadillac had a two-goal lead with 9:12 remaining.
Parker Hebden’s goal in the slot knotted it up at 6 apiece with 5:22 to go, assisted by Cam Givens and Alex Oliver. This after Rhys Adle had drawn the Trojans within a score when he back-handed a close shot under Connor Kassuba.
Givens’ third goal of the game knotted it up 4-4 early in the third before Sam Denman and Keenan Kolarik put Cadillac up 6-4. Both goals were set up by Patrick Briggs.
Suffering from another slow start, Central faced a 3-1 deficit late in the first period.
“I’m happy to get out of there with a point, I guess,” Trojans coach Chris Givens said. “Our first periods — we talked about it this week, having to change our preparation. We gave up four goals in the first seven minutes in Houghton, we were down 3-1 to Hancock in the first period. I don’t know what it is. We talked about changing that. And then to be in that same situation again. But we battled back hard. The second and third periods and overtime, we had good pressure and good opportunities. But we need to play with that sense of urgency sooner.”
The Trojans were able to cut the lead in half on Cam Givens’ goal off an Adle face-off win deep in Cadillac’s zone with six seconds left.
Central was up 1-0 on a Cooper Marshall short-handed goal 4:35 in, but the Vikings would score the next three times. Blake Ford found Central’s Darrell Carlisle screened and drove a slapshot through to tie it up at 1-1 and Gabe Gischia and Spencer Graham put Cadillac up 3-1. Ryan Morse assisted on both goals, while Brett Farley drew one.
Givens knotted it up at 3-3 with a power-play goal. That tie would last all of four minutes before Gischia’s second goal of the game put Cadillac up 4-3 despite Central holding a 17-8 advantage in second-period shots on goal.
“I thought we played well at times and we could have played better at times,” Graham said. “Connor Kassuba played well in net. We had a lot of good shifts out of a lot of kids at times. A lot of guys got a lot of ice time. It was nice to see some scoring from a broad spectrum of guys, not just the same guys.”
Kassuba ended up with 45 saves, and Carlisle stopped 21.
“We’ve got to tighten things up a little” Graham said. “We got caught a couple times with guys tired.”
Cadillac (4-1-1, 1-0-1 Big North Conference) was playing in its second straight overtime game, coming off a 2-1 victory over Alpena. Central (2-3-1, 1-0-1 BNC) heads to Alpena on Friday.
“Cadillac and them went into overtime, so it’s not going to get any easier over there,” Givens said.
Aside from all the scoring, two instances stood out among many in the game.
First, an apparent goal by Oliver was waived off late in the second period. That score would have tied up the game, but it was waived off by referees because Central’s horn had sounded in the press box a second earlier and the referees blew the play dead an instant before Oliver’s shot crossed the line.
It was the second time of the night that the horn had gone off when it shouldn’t have. The referees told Central to not use the horn for the remainder of the game.
“There’s no excuse for that,” Givens said. “It’s just bad. They did a good thing by pulling the plug on it. There’s no good excuse for that at all.”
The second was with 3:40 left in overtime, when Central was called for have six skaters on the ice.
“The refs had to call that,” Givens said. “They were content to let the kids play in overtime. But a blatant too-many-men like that, they’ve got to call that. It was the right call to make. We did a good job killing it off.”
Central’s Derek Schrank almost gave the Trojans the win, as the defenseman jumped up into the play and had a shot carom off the post with 1:08 remaining.
The tie did preserve Central’s 23-game unbeaten streak in BNC play.
“We’re just giving up too many goals right now, plain and simple,” Givens said. “We’re not going to survive in the Big North if we don’t tighten up defensively and find a way to limit the goals against. Giving up five or six a game in the Big North is not going to be good enough. Not even close.”