CALUMET — The Brighton hockey team got a jolt on Friday thanks to Hancock.
The Bulldogs returned the favor on Saturday.
Lee Pietila’s goal with 1:45 left in overtime gave Brighton a 5-4 victory.
Listen to the archived broadcast here.
“Huge for us. We needed this win in the worst way. I thought we deserved it. A lot of adversity out there but we got through it all.”
On Saturday, adversity came in twos for the Bulldogs, who allowed a pair of goals in the final 2:05 of the first period to give Calumet the lead.
Then after Jay Keranen tied it early in the second period, the Copper Kings scored a pair of power-play goals to take a 4-2 lead.
After Brighton killed a Calumet 5-on-3 advantage later in the period, Keranen scored again to cut the deficit to 4-3 going into the third.
Asked his team’s mindset, Pietila said: “Don’t stop. We’ve come back before. We know how to do it. We got into the locker room and everyone was calm. We said, ‘All right, guys. We’ve got this.'”
Their confidence was upheld when Mathew Kahra tied it with 1:44 remaining.
The Bulldogs controlled play for much of the overtime.
The winning goal came when Joey Clifford skated toward the net, then turned and fired a pass back to Pietila, who one-timed it into the net.
Asked his thought, Pietila said, “Mostly relief. Then you wait for everyone to come to you and make a big dog pile.”
For players of Finnish descent, like Pietila, the annual trip north is a homecoming of sorts. It’s a chance to play in front of relatives who wouldn’t see them play otherwise.
But there are family bragging rights on the line, too, which added a sense of relief.
“It feels like a table has been lifted off my chest,” Pietila said, smiling.
For Brighton coach Paul Moggach, the win was both a source of relief and a lot more.
“I thought we played a lot better as a team, which was the goal,” he said. “We were trying to make thing a little simpler and use our speed to our advantage, and we did, and it worked. I think all of our players played better tonight. Now we can take this win and go home. I was emphasizing this to the team, that adversity is important. It makes you stronger. We’re going to be better going home. We want to convert this into more than just a trip up north.”