Manistee falls short of Cadillac

Ludington junior Keegan Nowaczyk scored both goals for the Manistee co-op hockey team Friday in its 4-2 loss to Cadillac at West Shore Community Ice Arena. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

SCOTTVILLE — It was the little things that made the largest difference for Manistee Friday night.

Despite punching home the opening goal early against Cadillac at West Shore Community Ice Arena, the co-op Chippewas fell victim to brief breakdowns on the defensive end in the 4-2 loss to the Vikings.

“I really feel like this is a game we gave away with our mistakes,” Manistee coach Jon Raatz said. “But we’ll go back to work and make sure they don’t happen again.

“All in all, I’m very pleased with the effort we had. We played with emotion,” he added. “The difference in this game, though, was three mistakes.”

Ludington junior Keegan Nowaczyk led the Chippewas, scoring both of his team’s goals on the night.

“All season long, he has been just a tireless worker,” Raatz said of the forward. “He skates both ends of the ice.”

But just when it looked like Manistee might break out of its scoring struggles of late, and in turn snap the five-game skid they entered the game on, Cadillac was right there to respond.

After Nowaczyk scored on a feed from teammate Jordan Truxton in the first, the Vikings’ Tyler Thomas knotted the game at 4:07 remaining and Patrick Briggs trickled an even strength goal between the legs of Chippewa goalie Austin Wilson with just 12 seconds left in the frame for a 2-1 lead. Wilson had 24 saves in the contest.

“He thought he had it stopped but it must have been just past the five hole,” Raatz said of the final goal before the second period. “We were then down 2-1, but I thought for most of that first period we were taking the play to them. In those last two minutes we just lost our focus and our intensity … it’s something we’ve been battling.”

Raatz said simple but costly mistakes defensively also led to the pair of goals.

“… (W)e were doing a nice job at keeping them out of the prime scoring area, but when they were there, we had some coverage mistakes.”

Manistee knotted the score at 2-2 when Nowaczyk found the back of the net for a second time at 8:13 to go in the second.

At 1:47 to go in the period, Raatz was called for a two-minute bench penalty when trying to get an official’s attention as play continued after a Chippewa went down on the ice after taking a blow to the head

“I have to apologize to, first of all the team, the schools, to our fans,” Raatz said of the penalty, but was quick to point out he was worried about his player’s health. “I lost my composure. I shouldn’t do that … but my main concern at that time was my player’s safety.”

The Vikings’ Dane Moore scored on the ensuing power play for the 3-2 lead they would take into the final period.

Manistee had chances down the stretch, but the third went scoreless until Cadillac’s Briggs put the game out of reach with an empty-net score with just six seconds remaining.

Raatz said he was pleased with the overall effort, but the defensive lapses and missed scoring chances continued to haunt the Chippewas in their sixth straight loss.

“We had 2-on-1s we just couldn’t finish,” he said. “We had good puck movement, we had opportunities, but, again, we just couldn’t seal the deal.”

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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