BY JAMES COOK
TRAVERSE CITY — Demonstrating that the last victory over Alpena wasn't a fluke, Traverse City West went out and did it again.
The Titans notched a convincing 5-2 win Saturday at Howe Arena, giving West its second set of back-to-back wins this season — both of which involved the Wildcats.
"It helped us a lot confidence-wise," said senior defenseman Alec Carruth, whose second-period goal set up by Collin Peters and Dan Henderson gave West a 2-0 lead. "We had a consistent forecheck and pressure on them."
West's 4-1 road win over Alpena on Dec. 14 knocked the Wildcats (5-5) out of the Division 3 top 10 rankings.
The Titans (4-8) stayed in the Big North title hunt with the win, improving to 3-1 in league contests. Their lone BNC loss is to TC Central, who they play again Jan. 23 with a chance to pull even with the Trojans if they can keep winning conference games in the meantime.
"The difference was our defense getting shots through," West coach Jeremy Rintala said. "We got several goals off getting the puck in and getting rebounds.
"In the first (period) we got a lot of pucks on net. We got 20 on net. It was one of our most complete games of the year."
The Titans ended up with a commanding 54-29 advantage in shots on goal, keeping Alpena netminder Bret LeTourneau busy all afternoon.
West's Carter Edmondson had some busy times of his own, putting up 27 saves and shutting down several odd-man rushes.
"Even though we controlled it quite a bit, we gave them a few glorious opportunities — and he came up big," Rintala said. "It's good knowing he's back there."
Carruth said the defense moved the puck the best he's seen this season.
"For the first time, we got settled down, kept our heads up and found somebody down the ice," Carruth said.
The Titans — who were missing forwards Nick Featherstone (shoulder) and Nick Schultz (ribs) after injuries in Friday's overtime win over Petoskey — saw the first extensive ice time for junior forward Trevor Franklin, who helped set up Henderson's third-period goal that made it 5-2 with 6:20 left before the game ended with a rash of Wildcat penalties. Franklin missed the first 10 games of the season recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident right before the season, including a fractured vertebrae.
"I just kept asking him if his legs were OK, and he said, 'Yeah, I'm fine,'" Rintala said. "We let him go as much as he thought he could go."
John Linenger put West up 1-0 in the first period, and second-period goals by Carruth, Max Jenner and Keeler Steele put the Titans ahead 4-1.