HOME ICE WINNER: Esky Squirts Win U.P. Title

WELLS---Nick Martinson scored a hat trick and Griffin Johnson had three points as the Escanaba Hawks U.P. Ophtalmology U10 Squirt Hockey team surprised Marquette Kiwanis, 4-1, in the District Eight championship game on Sunday.

The win sends Escanaba to the state tournament next month in Trenton.

Escanaba had lost to Marquette in the tournament opener on Friday, 5-0, but rallied to win twice on Saturday (4-2 over Tahquamenon and 11-1 over Negaunee), and then beat Copper Country, 7-2, in Sunday morning's semifinal.

Marquette went undefeated in its three pool play games, outscoring its oppenents 15-1. Then, in their semifinal Sunday morning, Marquette beat Calumet, 4-1, to advance to the championship game.

This time, however, Escanaba was up to the challenge, after dealing with illnesses in Friday's loss. After goaltender Chase Kopi made several big saves early in the game, Griffin Johnson skated up the left wing and ripped it past Marquette goaltender Kurt O'Brien with 44 seconds left in the first period to make it a 1-0 game.

"Most of the time, I miss it," Johnson said. "But I got that one! We just worked our best, and we did it!"
From there, Johnson and linemate Nick Martinson combined to score three times, with Martinson getting all three goals for a hat trick. The prettiest was in the final minute of the second period, when he got the puck at neutral ice, skated around two defenders, and roofed it into the net to give Escanaba a 3-1 lead after two periods.
"A lot of good practcie, a lot of team play," said Martinson, who says the wrist shot is favorite type of shot. "Two of them were one-timers and one was just a goal."
Martinson completed his hat trick off a beautiful pass right in front of the net from Johnson early in the third period.
Wesley Robinson scored Marquette's only goal in the second period.
"They were flying out there," Escanaba Coach Andy Johnson said. "They didn't give Marquette any time to think with the puck. You've got to give it to these boys. Theywork hard in practice. They went hard today, and they weren't backing down."
And now the Hawks team gets to represent the Upper Peninsula at the state tournament, on the same Kennedy Center ice where the MIHL high school hockey showcase tournament was held this weekend.
Click the thumbnails above to see photos and videos, and watch post-game interviews.

BANTAM 14U FINALS AT MUNISING---The Munising/Manistique French Trucking Under-14 team won the District Eight Championship on Sunday, beating the Ironwood Polar Bears, 6-0, in Munising. The boys advance to the state tournament at Kalamazoo's Wings Stadium coming up in March. Escanaba's team lost a 2-1 heartbreaker in the semifinals Sunday morning.

MIDGET 18U FINALS AT MARQUETTE---The Marquette Togos/Main Street Pizza Under-18 team won the District Eight Championship on Sunday, beating Keweenaw Bay, 4-1, at Lakeview Arena. It was a three-team round-robin tournament, with Marquette also beating Negaunee Iron Range on Friday. The Marquette boys will be on home ice for the state tournament at Lakeview Arena in mid-March.

Escanaba boys get their trophy!
Final seconds as Escanaba celebrates UP title
Nick Martinson completes his Escanaba hat trick
Escanaba's Nick Martinson scores a pretty goal to make it 3-1
Marquette's Welsey Robinson scores to make it 2-1
Nick Martinson goal gives Escanaba 2-0 lead.
Griffin Johnson goal gives Escanaba 1-0 lead
Escanaba Coach Andy Johnson comments
Griffin Johnson gives post-game comments
Another nice save by Escanaba's Chase Korpi
Escanaba goalie Chase Korpi with the save
Nick Martinson gives his comments after the Esky win