BY JAMES COOK email@example.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Patrick Rogowski picked the right time for his first hat trick.
Heck, it was his first multi-goal game for Traverse City, and propelled the Hounds to an 8-0 shutout win in Game 2 over Sault Ste. Marie to force a decisive contest today in the Midwest Junior Hockey League championship series.
Game 3 is today at 1 p.m. at Centre ICE.
“It was a great bounce-back game for us,” Hounds head coach Scott Gardiner said. “Losing (Friday) night, coming back (Saturday) was very important, obviously to keep the series alive. Now we’ll have to see if we can muster up the same type of intensity we did.”
The game was a scrappy one. Traverse City dominated the scoreboard, but both teams spent plenty of time in the penalty box.
The game featured 33 penalties — 26 of those in the final two periods — which dragged the affair out to nearly three hours.
Those infractions included four misconduct penalties, three game ejections and four five-minute majors. Gardiner said he doesn’t expect that testiness to spill over into this afternoon’s game, which become a winner-take-all contest for the Veteran’s Memorial Cup.
“These two teams don’t like each other,” Gardiner said. “But we both want to win. I don’t think (today) will see nearly the stuff that went on Saturday. Both teams want to win that Cup.”
Both teams could be a little short-handed today. TC defensemen Kenny Simmons, Kevin Hansen and Alex Grizzel were both given misconduct penalties, as were Firehawks defender Kevin Killps and forward Nate Fitzpatrick. Simmons said he was cleared to play today, and that he didn’t know of any other players who had to sit out.
Traverse City’s eight goals came from just four players.
Aside from Rogowski’s three, Scott Luca and Austin Flores had two each, while Josh Smith added the game’s first tally.
The Hounds led 4-0 after two periods, then poured on four more in the third.
Rogowski struck just nine seconds in, Flores buried a pair of back-to-back goals and Rogowski closed out his hat trick with 2:27 left.
“Friday, it seemed like we were a little rusty,” Gardiner said. “We hadn’t played in awhile. There’s no excuses, though. And Saturday, we came out with some intensity and fire.”
A very long second period included 14 penalties, including a fight between Sault Ste. Marie’s Justin Garton and TC’s Hansen six minutes in.
Garton was ejected for instigating the fight, jumping Hansen from behind and punching him several times while Hansen lay on the ice. Simmons was ejected for being the third man in.
In between penalty calls, fights and near-fights, Rogowski gave Traverse City a 3-0 lead on a 2-on-1 rush with Luca, capping off Luca’s cross-ice pass with a one-timer to beat goalie Anthony Benvenuiti to the post.
Luca would make it 4-0 with a power-play goal with just six ticks remaining, as Jake Gillis drew an assist. Gillis finished the night with four helpers, and Premsyl Synek had three.
The Hounds took an early 1-0 lead on Josh Smith’s shot to the far post 4:02 into the game. A few minutes later, he almost made it 2-0, but went wide left with a short-handed rush attempt.
Luca’s slapshot off a long rebound put Traverse City up 2-0 with 8:25 left in the first.
Tyler Thirlby was whistled for a five-minute slashing major a minute later, but the Firehawks shirt-circuited a shot to get right back into the game with two penalties of their own.
“We scored those couple goals early,” Gardiner said. “And then we killed off that five-minute penalty. That was huge. We did a really nice job of the PK. Obviously, there were a lot of penalties on both sides.”