LA' VICTORY! Eskymos Stop Kingsford In Opener

Click the thumbnails to see pictures and videos, and hear post-game comments from Coach Matt Hughes, Sawyer LaMarch, Bryce Buchbinder, and Gunner Bourdeau. Also click the AUDIO buttons tohear Kobie Petrich and Braden Sundquist player spotlight interviews.
IRON MOUNTAIN---Sawyer LaMarch had two goals and assisted on another Thursday as the Escanaba Eskymos beat the Kingsford Flivvers, 5-1, in the MHSAA Division Two regional semifinals in Iron Mountain. Gunner Bourdeau added two goals and played strong defensively as the Eskymos won their eighth straight game after starting the season 1-9.

"It feels great, it really does," LaMarch said. "We're the underdogs. We are. We came out fast. We came out strong. I told everyone on my team before the game that I would get first star, I would get two goals, I would get one assist. That's the outcome."

It was an increasingly chippy game, especially after the Eskymos broke it open in the third period.

"The message to our team was: you have to be menatlly stronger, we can't afford to take penalties," Escanaba Coach Matt Hughes said. "I thought our kids did a very good job of working hard and keeping their composure in the third period."
LaMarch opened the scoring with a breakway goal just 1:05 into the game as he skated in, and went to his backhand to tuck it in along the right post past goaltender Isaiah Anderson.

"Before the game, I told the boys that we have to block some shots," LaMarch said. "I blocked a shot from JP (Jack Perpich) right on the toe, and I went in on a breakaway, gave him (Anderson) a leg fake, and froze him. It was wide open."
Then in the second period, the Eskymos got inro penalty trouble when Braden Sundquist and Spencer Bourdeau both went into the penalty box. Escanaba killed off the 39 seconds of 5-on-3 time, and then Bryce Buchbinder had to make a stick save during the 5-on-4 portion.
Eventually, with 6:23 left in the period, LaMarch sniped a shot under the crossbar to give Escanaba a 2-0 lead.

"Saucy played great, that whole line played great," Hughes said. "He could have had a couple more too, and I think he was really trying for that third one.

He sure was. It could have been 3-0 moments later when LaMarch went in on another breakaway, but Anderson stopped him. Then in the final two minutes of the first period, a Kadon Hayes pass was intercepted, leading to a 2-on-1 that Gabe LaFrieniere buried to make it 2-1.
In the third period, Anderson stopped Trevor Streichert on a breakaway, and then Buchbinder had to come up with a big stick save four minutes into the period. On that play, Nick Kolich was called for delay of game for knocking the net off its moorings intentionally.

"It was bouncing in front and I was just trying to get in front of it," Buchbinder said. "I might have touched it. I don't remember. There were too many bodies out in front."
The Flivvers couldn't generate much offense, however and Esky had a chance to go up by two when Karson Krutina went in on a breakaway. His shot hit Anderson in the mask, though.

Finally, Escanaba took a 3-1 lead when Bourdeau shot one that hit a skate and bounced past Anderson.

"I just got the puck and flung 'er on net, and it went in," said Bourdeau, who has six goals against Kingsford in the last three meetings.

Then less than five minutes later. LaMarch went in on a 2-on-1 with Ayden Mylander. Instead of trying for the hat trick, he passed to Mylander for the goal, making it 4-1 swith 4:16 left in the game.

That put it out of reach, and the chippiness got even rougher as Kingsford's Beau Kralovec was given a five-minute major for running Jayger LaMarch into the boards.

"They get really chippy and they don't keep their heads," said Bourdeau, who has himself served his share of penalty minutes this season. "We were told to keep our heads and don't play down to their level."

Bourdeau cashed in with a power play goal when he sniped one from the right point with 9:04 left in the game.

"It went to Jug (his brother Spencer) and he did a cross-ice pass to me, top right," Bourdeau said. "I took a slapshot and it went in."

Bourdeau was picked the game's second star.

Escanaba had 44 shots on goal, with Anderson stopping 39. Buchbinder stopped 27 of the 28 shots thrown his way, and he was picked the game's third star.

"I was a little busy the second half of the game," Buchbinder said. "I just played and had fun. You play your best when you're having fun, so just enjoy it when you're out there."

It was Buchbinder's first career playoff win in his first career playoff start.

"Bryce made some excellent saves for us," Hughes said. "The main thing is, the game was really tight at that point and he came up huge."

Kingsford finished its season with a 3-12-0 record, and eleven straight losses.

Escanaba improved to 9-9-0 with its eighth straight win. The Eskymos travel to Marquette to face the Redmen in the regional championship game on Saturday. The Redmen mercied Negaunee in the other semifinal, 9-0, as Jackson Potulny scored four goals.

Saturday's faceoff from Lakeview Arena is set for 1:00.

LISTEN: Sawyer LaMarch #1 star interview
LISTEN: Gunnar Bourdeau #2 star interview
LISTEN: Bryce Buchbinder #3 star interview
LISTEN: Braden Sundquist player spotlight interview
LISTEN: Kobie Petrich player spotlight interview
LISTEN: Matt Hughes post-game comments