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HOCKEY: Cranbrook tops Brother Rice at Comerica Park

Players get ready for the drop of the puck before Thursday's Birmingham Brother Rice vs. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood hockey game at Comerica Park in Detroit. (For The Oakland Press/DAN TALLANT)

An overview of the ice at Comerica Park Thursday afternoon. (For The Oakland Press/DAN TALLANT)

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DETROIT — Getting a chance to do something that will likely happen just once in a lifetime, the Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood hockey team took full advantage on Thursday afternoon.

Playing with an overcast sky and the tall buildings of Detroit in the background, it was the Cranes’ top line of Christopher Brown, Austin Alger, and Sam Miletic who shined brightest, helping to knock off Birmingham Brother Rice, 4-3, on the outdoor rink at Comerica Park.

“This was a once in a lifetime experience for our guys,” Cranbrook coach Andrew Weidenbach said. “I’m really glad that we had the opportunity to do this... We have a spirited rivalry with Brother Rice and the guys play hard. We like playing (Rice), they’re a good team.”

Up 3-2, with 7:53 left to play, Miletic, a junior committed to play at the University of Michigan, scored the eventual game-winner on a low shot, giving Cranbrook a two-goal lead — one that would prove to be just enough.

With an extra attacker and the game on the line, Brother Rice’s Nick Rosa gave his team a glimmer of hope, scoring to cut the Cranes’ lead back down to one.

Unfortunately for the Warriors, who fall to 4-3 with the loss, only 24 seconds remained on the clock. Rice’s Connor Jean had a chance just miss in the game’s final moments, but the Cranes — the No. 1 ranked team in Division 3 — held on for the win.

“It was a great experience for the kids,” Brother Rice coach Lou Schmidt said. “I thought both teams played hard, it was a good game — the game I expected. (Cranbrook) has a lot of firepower up front with that first line. I thought we did a good job of keeping them away from our net, but they’re skilled. They’ll find ways to get there eventually.”

The two teams battled with unfamiliar ice conditions and watched the puck act strangely on multiple occasions. The result was a wide-open tilt that included great scoring chances at both ends of the ice.

“The ice was really chippy,” Cranbrook’s captain Brown said. “We had to keep things simple. We just kept getting the puck deep and throwing it on net. Luckily, we had a couple bounce our way.”

Cranbrook scored first on Thursday, getting a low shot from the point to go in the first period. The Warriors’ Nick Bowman tied the game at one in the second period, crashing the net and banging home a rebound to even the score. Assisting on Bowman’s goal was Rice captain Blake Bazzi, who notched an assist on all three of his team’s goals.

“I thought tonight was just a battle of two good teams,” Schmidt said. “We made more mistakes then they did, and they jumped on them.”

The Cranes would answer Bowman’s game-tying goal with two of their own to close out the second period. Defenseman CJ Regula scored on a shot from outside the circles, and Alger got his stick on a shot from the point, tipping one past Rice’s goalie to give Cranbrook a 3-1 lead.

“They’re our big line,” Weidenbach said of his top line. “They produce a lot for us, and when they’re hot, they’re hot. Luckily for us, so far this year, they’ve been hot.”

Brother Rice will look to avenge Thursday’s loss on Friday, when it takes on the U17 team from Hill Academy.

With the win, Cranbrook improves to 10-0 overall on the year. The Cranes get back to work on Friday against the U18 team from Hill Academy.

Last Updated: 12/20/2013 6:10:13 AM EST

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