Both Skyline and Pioneer came out flying in their first meeting on the ice of the 2021 season on Saturday and it appeared like this could end up being a shootout of historic proportions.
There were seven goals scored in the first period as Skyline took a 4-3 lead into the second period. But the action tightened up, defenses improved and an old-school hockey game began to take shape. When the dust (ice) had settled, Skyline skated off with a well-earned, hard-fought 5-3 victory over their talented rivals from Pioneer at the Arctic Coliseum in Chelsea.
The Eagles improved to 3-0 on the young season.
“It was a great game (Saturday) night, your typical Skyline-Pioneer game,” said Skyline Coach Jake Stripp. “It was back-and-forth hockey where both teams had their chances. Our goalie, Tommy Letje, made some big key saves down the stretch that seemed to be the difference.”
AJ Schmunk had a hat trick (three goals), Sei Nakamura had a goal and two assists and Jamie Newton had a goal for the Eagles.
“Jamie, AJ and Sei are our guys,” Stripp said. “It’s really fun to watch. They are all very skilled and usually the best players on the ice.”
Pioneer’s Thomas Kreske and Adam Karibian each had a goal and an assist in the loss.
The Eagles opened the scoring at 16:25 of the first period on a goal from Nakamura with assists from Peter Shellhaas and Schmunk. But less than a minute later, Pioneer scored to even things up on an unassisted goal by Kreske.
Just a couple minutes later, Skyline took the lead at 2-1 on a goal by Newton with an assist from Schmunk. Again, the Pioneers would draw even. This time, Junah Whitelocke scored at 9:16 with assists from Kreske and Karibian to even the score at 2-2.
With 4:37 to play in the opening period, Schmunk took a pass from Nakamura and scored to give the Eagles a 3-2 lead.
The final minute was a crazy finish to the first period.
With 20 seconds left, Karibian scored for Pioneer to tie the game at 3-3. But just 12 seconds later, Schmunk scored to send the Eagles into the locker room with a 4-3 advantage.
There were no goals in the second period as the offenses apparently needed to catch their breath or the defenses had finally caught up to the offenses – or maybe a little of both.
At 13:40 of the third period, Skyline’s Nakamura fed a pass to Schmunk who netted his third of the game and push the Eagles to a 5-3 lead.
The Pioneers host Chelsea at 3:30 p.m. on Monday (Feb. 22) at the Ice Cube and then host Huron at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26 at the Ice Cube.
Skyline plays Jackson at 7 p.m. on Monday (Feb. 22) and host Dexter at 2 p.m. on Wednesday (Feb. 24). Both games are at the Arctic Coliseum in Chelsea.