By RON DEUTER
IRON MOUNTAIN - Reid Pietila scored two goals for Kingsford, but the Flivvers couldn't answer their third deficit of the game and fell 5-3 to De Pere Saturday night in non-conference hockey at Mountain View Ice Arena.
Ron Deuter/The Daily News Photo
Kingsford’s Alex Wiitanen waits for a pass in front of DePere goalie Ross Kulick during Saturday evening’s non-conference hockey game at Mountain View Ice Arena.
"It's just the little things that are killing us," Flivvers coach Jim Peterson said. "Unforced turnovers, and they capitalized on it."
After falling behind 2-0 in the first and 3-2 in the second, the Flivvers twice knotted the score but the Voyageurs fourth goal went unanswered, and an empty-netter at the end thwarted a Flivver two-man advantage in the game's final minute.
"They battled," Peterson said. "This was definitely a beatable team. It was just a lot of little things, nothing major."
One of those little things Peterson referenced was penalties. The Flivvers were whistled for six compared to the Voyageurs two.
"We have to stay out of the penalty box," said Peterson, whose team was already without the services of Marcus Andrews and Nick Brule due to game disqualifications in the Flivvers' previous contest. "It wears us down, it really does."
Robert Neuwirth put the visitors on the board in the first thanks to an early Flivver penalty, skating right to left and firing over the shoulder of Flivver netminder Conor Berndt.
De Pere made it 2-0 midway through the frame when Alex Christensen intercepted a pass near the Flivver blue line, scooted in alone and buried his chance.
The Flivvers responded two minutes later. Again down a man, Kingsford capitalized on a bad pass in the DePere zone, as Tony Ward came up with the puck, pushed it toward the net to Ted Pietila who stuffed it between the pipe and goalie Ross Kulick's skate.
Reid Pietila knotted the game a 2-2 a few minutes later by deflecting in a blue-line blast from Sean Ryan.
DePere broke the tie early in the second, as Trace Jocewicz came in on a rush a ripped a rocket past Berndt. Again, Kingsford was quick to respond, as Reid Pietila got one through just a minute later. Kyle Larson got the assist after making a nice play to keep the puck onside.
But the 3-3 tie lasted just another two and half minutes. De Pere's Christensen sent a slow slider through the crowd in front, and the puck went untouched and through the five-hole.
De Pere's second penalty of the game came with 1:47 to play in regulation. Kingsford started the power play with Berndt in net, but pulled him with about 1:10 to go.
Kingsford had a few chances on net but lost control of the puck near the blue line. Neuwirth and Jocewicz exchanged passes up ice and Neuwirth put in the freebie for the game's final tally.
"Our effort is there," Peterson said. "If we could keep the whole team together, work on unforced turnovers and not panicking with the puck, we'll be OK."
Berndt finished with 26 saves. Kulick had 21 stops.
Kingsford (2-4-0) plays in a tournament at Cheboygan beginning Thursday.
De Pere 221 - 5
Kingsford 210 - 3
D - Robert Neuwirth (Will Reabe), PP, 4:35.
D - Alex Christensen (unassisted), 10:38.
K - Ted Pietila (Tony Ward), SH, 12:46.
K - Reid Pietila (Sean Ryan, Alex Wiitanen), 14:55.
D - Trace Jocewicz (Emmett Kulick), 2:15.
K - R. Pietila (Kyle Larson), 3:12.
D - Christensen (Hunter McCutchin, Joe Vandelist), 5:41.
D - Neuwirth (Jocewicz), SH, 16:35.