By Dan Hardenbrook

After fighting hard and advancing to the final day, the 14U French Trucking team, a combined group from Newberry, Manistique, and Munising, fell to a high-powered Escanaba team 6-1, ending the MAHA District 8 semifinal game last Sunday.

In their opening divisional round game against Keweenaw Bay, French Trucking didn’t let up in an 11-1 win. Cole Watchorn had a hat trick, Becca Rahilly, Isaac Rondeau, and Finn Price each scored a pair, and Natalie Miotke and Jarrett Zellar added a goal in the win. Owen Kusnier got the start as goalie and went wire-to-wire in the win.

French Trucking clinched a spot in the Sunday semifinals early on Saturday. In their second game of the tournament, French Trucking found themselves in total control again, winning 5-1 over Negaunee. Rondeau, Zellar, and Price added to their goal totals, while Logan McIntyre and Julian Suriano picked up their first goals of the tournament. Goalie Logan Lusk stopped 24 of 25 shots and earned top star honors in the win.

Game three on Saturday night matched up the top two teams in the division: French Trucking versus Calumet. Both were 2-0, with wins over Keweenaw Bay and Negaunee. That meant a semifinal date against the DAHA Iron Kings. In a great battle, both goaltenders shined as Lusk was strong but was outdueled by Calumet’s Wydham David, who stopped all 27 French Trucking shots in a 2-0 win.
During Sunday’s semifinals, French Trucking went toe-to-toe early against a self-impressed Escanaba team that played with a large chip on their shoulder.

The Escanaba Jr. Hawks got up mid-way through the first period before getting physical and imposing their will. The game evolved into an all-out scrum and brawl in the corner mid-way through the final period.

Up 6-0, Escanaba continued to put pressure French Trucking, and after a post-whistle shoving match, chaos broke out. An Escanaba player skated in and slammed a French Trucking player, who retaliated by sending an opposing player to the ice.

That prompted Escanaba players to jump into the pile and even throw punches. More players jumped the boards to get on the ice. After a long delay multiple penalties were assessed, and Escanaba had several players ejected from the game. After initially refusing to resume play, Escanaba went shorthanded to finish the contest with a 6-1 win.

The Jr. Hawks eventually won the District 8 Tournament final and will make their way to the coveted state tournament.