BY JAMES COOK
TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City West's destiny is out of its hands.
The Titans aren't out of the Big North Conference race, but they'll need someone to trip up leader Traverse City Central in order to catch the Trojans after a 2-2 tie with Cadillac at Howe Arena on Wednesday.
Tyler Thomas scored back-to-back goals six seconds apart midway through the second period to lift Cadillac (6-7-1, 1-3-1 BNC) into a tie after West (4-8-1, 3-1-1 BNC) had established a 2-0 advantage on John Linenger's deflection of a Jacob Benker shot.
Max Jenner opened the scoring with a wristshot off a Linenger assist.
After being outshot 17-12 in the first two periods, West held a sizable 17-8 advantage the rest of the way.
"They had a few more shots than us in the first two periods," West coach Jeremy Rintala said. "I thought we kind of took over in the third. We finally found it late in the third and had lot of pressure, had them bottled up and then a big five-minute power play for them and we did a great job killing that off. I was proud of that. It seemed the boys realized a little too late what was going to be effective against this team. And (Cadillac) did a good job bottling us up. Even when we were up 2-0, I didn't feel we were outplaying them. And those two quick goals took the wind out of our sails a little."
Carter Edmondson made 23 saves and Cadilac's P.J. Nemish had 27 stops.
Thomas went backhand for both his goals, the first of which was assisted by Patrick Briggs. Spencer Graham set up the second with a faceoff win.
"Getting one lifts your spirits," Cadillac coach Scott Graham said. "And then getting another took that to another level.
"We had a tough time maintaining the intensity that we came out with in the first period for the remainder of the game. I think it was a really good hockey game, myself. It was a back-and-forth game. Both teams had quality chances."
Each team killed off a five-minute power play in the third period, both of which were the result of checks from behind. Linenger and Cadillac's Steven Lipar will have to miss the next two games each for the infractions.
"That hurts more than anything," Rintala said. "He's one of our leaders this year, and something has really clicked for him this year."
West hosts Division 2 No. 1-ranked Livonia Stevenson on Friday night and Division1 No.-1 ranked Birmingham Brother Rice on Saturday.