Things had been a bit rocky for the Marquette hockey club in the past two weeks with the Mustangs dropping three of their last four games in Mid-States Club Hockey play.
On Monday night, the Mustangs got a break and a nice little early Christmas present in the process.
Marquette parlayed a first period goal and two second period goals and a big-time performance from goalie Alex Kalmes into a 4-2 win over struggling Francis Howell North at the Rec-Plex South in St. Peters, Mo.
Getting three goals in the first two periods gave the Marquette (8-3) a major boost on offense as the Mustangs were missing three key players heading into the Howell North contest.
“It was big, we were short three good players tonight so it was big for us to get out early,” Marquette assistant coach Gary Tockman said. “We had a lot of energy, we worked hard and they played much like a team tonight. Very good team game.”
Four different players scored for the Mustangs as Ben Chase, Daniel Roux, Garrett Zombo, and Jacob Rapp all pushed the puck past Howell North standout goalie Kavan Johnson.
Marquette was relentless on Johnson with the puck as the Mustangs fired 31 shots on goal while holding the Knights to 21 shots.
“It helped us a lot (having the shots on goal),” Tockman said. “Their goaltender (Johnson) was unbelievable. We tested his goal over and over and he denied every time after time. He kept them in the game, he was really good.”
Chase scored with just 12.9 seconds left in the first period to put Marquette on top.
Johnson was tough in the second period for Howell North, but Roux slipped a shot past him with 1:49 left in the period to make it 2-0.
Then in the final minute of the period, Zombo popped in a shot in the goal crease just in front of the goal for a 3-0 Marquette lead.
That cushion gave Kalmes, the Mustangs netminder some breathing room as he was able to lock down between the pipes and keep Howell North scoreless for better then 35 minutes.
“They kind of took away pressure for me so I wouldn’t like have to do as much when they hit the puck or get the guy to move around the net instead of having to come middle, I take less shots and it’s easier on me,” Kalmes said. “We’ve been struggling a lot and kind of hit a skid and this game kind of gets us off and going again.”
Rupp lit the lamp at 10:14 of the third period, pushing the Mustangs edge to 4-0.
Defending Wickenheiser Cup champion Howell North (1-7-1), which has struggled to start the season, did not lay down and go away.
Senior forward Daniel LaMartina scored a goal with 5:11 to go and then added a power play goal with just 1:32 left to pull the Knights within 4-2.
Howell North pulled Johnson for an extra attacker in the final two minutes but Knights could not get another shot past Kalmes, who turned away 19 of 21 shots on goal.
“They came our hard, got 18 shots in the first period and they are a tough team and we just tried to hang in there,” Howell North assistant coach Ryan Gannon. “We didn’t roll over. We were going to come out each shift and keep playing. It was a good learning experience for the team and us coaches to know that we can kind of hang with any of these teams and put forth great effort.”