Prep hockey: Negaunee can’t hold lead

PETOSKEY – Negaunee took advantage of man-advantage opportunities early, but couldn’t hold on and lost 4-2 to the Bay Area Thunder in the championship game of the Petoskey Invitational high school hockey tournament on Saturday afternoon.

The Miners (4-6) scored twice on the power play in the game’s first 20 minutes, but the downstate squad then scored four unanswered goals to take the title.

BAT (9-1) is a cooperative of several Bay City-area schools and plays in Division 1, its only loss coming to another D1 power, Midland Dow.

“We had a good game overall, but we just made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized on them,” Negaunee coach Darrel Sleeman said. “We had some good scoring opportunities but we didn’t get the second chances on our shots.”

Forward Michael Farley scored the Miners’ first goal near the midpoint of the first period with assists going to fellow juniors Ryan Bischof and Ryan Syrjala.

NHS made it 2-0 about 2 1/2 minutes into the second period when Syrjala connected on the power play with an assist going to sophomore Jeffrey Mathews.

But BAT battled back to tie it 2-2 by the end of the period on a pair of goals by Connor Monaghan. He completed his hat trick with a third-period goal while Nick Rafaill, who assisted on each of Monaghan’s goals, scored an insurance tally.

NHS goalie Tyler Riutta finished with 20 saves, 10 coming in the first period, while the Miners put 30 shots on BAT netminder Connor Spence.

Negaunee has changes to its upcoming schedule. The Miners tournament at Escanaba next weekend has turned into two regular games there, against Jeffers at 1 p.m. Saturday and the host Eskymos at 4 p.m. Sunday.

NHS then plays a makeup game at L’Anse at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 3.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Writer Steve Brownlee. His email address is