The Marquette Rangers held on to first place in the North Division standings by beating the Alpena IceDiggers, 2-1, on Saturday night at Lakeview Arena.
It was also the team’s third annual “Paint the Rink Pink” fundraiser in co-operation with the Cancer Center at Marquette General Health Systems, with Rangers donning custom pink jerseys that were auctioned off to the crowd after the game.
An NAHL North Division-record 2,471 was in attendance at Lakeview to witness the win.
“What a great night for our guys,” said Rangers head coach Kenny Miller. “We found a way to win against a tough opponent tonight. We got it done with some guys playing positions they’re not used to playing and received solid goaltending again from Kevin Kissaw.
“We’re very pleased as a staff that our guys were able to react in a good way to all the excitement surrounding this fundraiser which could have been a distraction. But we played well enough to win and at the end of the day that’s why we play these games.”
Miller also credited the record crowd with getting his team going in the second period after the IceDiggers had taken a 1-0 lead.
“The crowd was great; they were really great here tonight,” he said. “I’m happy for our guys to be able to play in front of a crowd like that and to have the crowd appreciate the effort.
“Our guys worked hard all week, and to be rewarded with a record crowd is just great. I hope we created some new fans with the event and the game we played tonight. It was loud and fun, and our guys really fed off of that so I’d like to thank everyone who came to help the hospital and to see us play.”
Alpena opened the scoring in the second period when Ryan Timar tipped a rebound past a sprawled-out Kissaw at the 13:22 mark. Nick Taurence received the lone assist on the Alpena power-play effort.
The lead was short lived.
Marquette’s Collin Saint-Onge tied the score with a wrister from the far circle through Alpena goaltender Nick Holmes 61 seconds later. Cody Donnay got the only assist on the Rangers goal.
Marquette got the game-winner just 13 seconds later when Brent Bain found a loose puck in front of Holmes and beat him high for his sixth goal of the season. Andrew Kolb and Josh Bussell were credited with the assists.
Kissaw stopped 28 of 29 shots by the IceDiggers, while Holmes made 34 saves on 36 shots by Marquette.