GAYLORD — Two years, one month, seven days.
That was the last time the Traverse City Central hockey team was handed a shutout — a 42-game streak.
The streak was snapped Tuesday night when TC Central fell 1-0 to Marquette in the state quarterfinals at the Otsego County Sportsplex.
Marquette advances to Plymouth for the third year in a row. It ends Central’s season for the second straight year and in the same venue.
Central lost in the quarterfinals 5-2 last year.
“It was good hockey game,” Central coach Chris Givens said. “Shots were 33-32, they converted on on one of their power plays. We certainly had our chances and just couldn’t do it.”
Marquette’s Dylan Baldwin scored the only goal of the game with 12:48 to go in the first period. Central’s Ethan VanderRoest drew an interference call and Marquette scored 20 seconds into the power play.
Jacob Garrow and Jackson Potulny had assists on the goal.
“I just think our goaltender just had one of those nights,” Marquette coach Doug Garrow said. “Sometimes you run into a hot goalie and tonight Brennan (Hakkola) was a hot goalie and he made some great saves.”
Marquette had a man in the penalty box for almost an entire period worth of game time.
It picked up 14 penalty minutes on seven calls — two for slashing, two for roughing, one tripping, one for too many men, and one for interference — without a single one overlapping to give the Trojans a two-man advantage.
The Trojans picked up three penalties of their own, but only one overlapped for less than 30 seconds to create a 4-on-4.
“Sometimes you need your goalie to be your best penalty killer,” Garrow said. “Tonight he definitely was.”
The last time the Trojans were shutout was a 5-0 loss to Alpena to close out the 2019 regular season.
Marquette goaltender Brennan Hakkola said playing sound defense won the game. He said he wasn’t thinking much about the significance of shutting out the Trojans after the win.
“I was more happy just to be able to go back to Plymouth then the shoutout,” Hakkola said, “but it was a good feeling.”
Givens said Tuesday was just good hockey. He credited junior goalie Grant Neuhardt for keeping the Trojans in the game.
“They just outworked us,” Neuhardt said. “We’re still a good team, it was a pretty even game the entire time.”
Marquette (9-2-1) moves onto face undefeated Byron Center (17-0) in the Final Four at USA Hockey Arena after it’s 2-1 win over Heartland Tuesday night.
Garrow said the goal all summer long was to return to Plymouth, especially after he thought last years team had a solid chance at coming home with a state championship.
When the 2020 playoffs were cancelled because of concerns over the spread of COVID-19, Marquette was just loading their equipment off the bus to stay at its team hotel.
“I’m emotional because they worked hard ...and I’m a hard coach, I demand a lot,” Garrow said through tears. “They never surprised me, it’s just the way it is.”
Givens said he felt like the Trojans took a step forward in the 2020 season.
When the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services ordered a pause to practices and games, Givens said he noticed the Trojans mature when play resumed.
Central finishes with a record of 13-3.
“It’s been steady progress straight from the start to finish,” Givens said. “I thought we played our best hockey of the year in the last week, and that’s exactly what you want. You don’t want to peak too early. And I thought we did some really nice things.”
Neuhardt, a junior, has started at the keeper spot for three years in a row. The Trojans graduate three defensemen — Ethan VanderRoest, Seth Lucas and Nathan Webber — and Neuhardt will join a squad that will feature nine seniors for the 2021-21 season.
Forwards Josh Stepke, Carson Peters and Trevor Schuiling graduate on the offensive end.
“We have some fuel to the fire,” Neuhardt said. “Hopefully we’ll fired up next year to get back in the same spot, beat Marquette and make it to the state finals.”