In the Copper Country, hockey is everything.
That passion for the sport was on full display Wednesday night when Houghton and Calumet played for a regional title and a chance to move on to the state tournament.
Over two thousand people packed the stands of MacInnes Student Ice Arena on the campus of Michigan tech creating an electric atmosphere.
“I think by the time the game was over there was close to twenty-five hundred. One of the bigger crowds I’ve seen for a regional championship up there in over 25 to 30 years. You could cut the tension of that building with a knife after that first period. It was pretty electric. said Jim Young, who calls the Calumet games for WKMJ Mixed 93.5, WMPL 920 am Hancock.
Entering the second period, calumet trailed Houghton, 1-0, but then the Copper Kings flipped the switch. They began playing like the team many believed would make the final four entering the year.
“Once they hit their stride in that second period, they got that first goal and then the second goal, you could just feel the confidence. A very talented club. Keep in mind, this calumet club for a good part of the year was ranked number one in division three. Also, they were ranked number two overall in the state. Ifcalumet plays up to their capability like they did last night. This could be a very scary team in the tournament going forward,” said Young.
The Copper Kings will play in their first state quarterfinal game since 2017 when calumet got to the state semifinals.
“This team traditionally this school is used to playing in big-time games. I don’t think the bright lights will affect them too much. Especially it seems, they have that momentum now that they had the good part of the year. They lost a couple of games coming down the stretch, but keep in mind they lost to the best team in Wisconsin in Green Bay Notre Dame and a couple of other powers. But, I don’t think the moment is going to phase them at all,” added Young.
Calumet will take that momentum to Marquette this Saturday will they will play Gaylord for a chance to play for a state title.
“Once, you get into the playoffs anything can happen and Gaylord is playing their best hockey of the season right now. Calumet has hit its stride as well. When you look at the body of work, strength of schedule, this is going to be an extremely difficult task for Gaylord. They know coming up their hands are full. This is by far the best team they’re going to face all year.”
The puck drops for the state quarterfinal game between Calumet and Gaylord Saturday at 1 pm eastern at Lakeview Arena.