Prep hockey: Marquette upsets Escanaba to advance to Saturday’s MHSAA Division 2 regional final in Gaylord

WELLS – The Marquette Redmen showed how dangerous their power play can be Thursday night as they escaped with a 2-1 double-overtime hockey victory over the Escanaba Eskymos in an MHSAA Division 2 pre-regional final contest at the Wells Sports Complex.

Marquette scored both goals on the power play, including the game-winner by junior forward Luke Schwemin one minute, 46 seconds into the second overtime.

“This is unreal,” said Schwemin. “We went from being mercied (8-0 on Dec. 3) the last time we played down here to beating them in (double) overtime. We started the season rough (0-5-1), but our record didn’t show how good we were. Our coaches just kept it simple tonight and in overtime we just kept doing what we were doing.”

The victory sends the Redmen (13-10-4) to the regional final at Gaylord where they’ll face Saginaw Heritage on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Eskymos finished 16-8-3.

Heritage advanced by eliminating Midland Dow 5-2 Thursday.

A centering pass by sophomore forward Tony Fedrizzi set up the game-winner for the Redmen, who were 2-for-3 on the power play.

“We’ve been working on that a lot and our power play unit did a great job,” said Marquette coach Doug Garrow. “We told our guys every shot in overtime is a good shot. I’m real proud of this team. The guys followed the game plan and they all played hard.”

Marquette opened the scoring 3:03 into the third period when junior defenseman Brett Specker picked off a pass in the Esky zone and flipped it past senior goaltender Nick LeMire.

Escanaba senior forward Dan Ritter evened the score from the slot on a centering pass from senior forward T.J. Myrick four minutes later.

“During the second half of the third period, I think we picked up the momentum,” said Esky coach Matt Hughes. “We had them on the ropes. We were beating them to the 50/50 pucks. It’s a game of inches. We had some great chances late in the game. We just didn’t capitalize.”

The momentum appeared to be in Esky’s favor during the first overtime when it outshot the Redmen 5-1.

Both teams got a shot on goal in the second overtime, with the Redmen making the final shot count.

“This was a great high school game,” said Garrow. “The two teams were pretty even. I thought (junior goaltender) John Beckman did a great job. He made some big saves when we really needed him to. We also have to give (Esky junior forward) Levi Wunder all the credit in the world for gutting it out (with a bruised knee).”

Beckman finished with 22 saves and LeMire stopped 14 shots for the Eskymos, who outshot MSHS 23-16.

“Marquette played real well defensively,” said Hughes. “Overall, I think the season went well. Our goal in the beginning was to make every kid a better hockey player and the kids improved individually. We also played a pretty tough schedule, with Houghton and Hancock coming into our conference. We also faced some stiff competition in tournaments downstate. We had three ties and lot of one-goal games.”

One of those ties took place in Marquette (2-2) on Jan. 14.

“I think that gave us confidence that we could play with Escanaba,” said Garrow. “We struggled last season and when we started 0-5-1 this season, we knew we needed to change a culture. We knew we’d get better, only we weren’t sure it would get us to this point. We stuck to the game plan and started playing better.”