Chris Wilberding (center), Birmingham Brother Rice, celebrates with teammates Mackenzie MacEachern (left) and Thomas Ebbing after defeating Grosse Pointe South in Division 2 State Championship action at Compuware Arena Saturday, March 10, 2012. (Special to The Oakland Press / Larry McKee)
Hockey - Boys
HOCKEY: State title so nice for Brother Rice WITH VIDEO
Warriors top Grosse Pointe South for third state hockey championship
By JASON SCHMITT Of The Oakland Press
Thomas Ebbing (left), Birmingham Brother Rice, battles for puck possession with Andrew Bigham, Grosse Pointe South, during Division 2 State Championship action at Compuware Arena Saturday, March 10, 2012. (Special to The Oakland Press / Larry McKee)
Mackenzie MacEachern, Birmingham Brother Rice, points to the crowd after scoring a second period goal during Division 2 State Championship action against Grosse Pointe South at Compuware Arena Saturday, March 10, 2012. (Special to The Oakland Press / Larry McKee)
Russell Cicerone, Birmingham Brother Rice, makes a back hand pass while slicing through three Grosse Pointe South defenders during Division 2 State Championship action at Compuware Arena Saturday, March 10, 2012. (Special to The Oakland Press / Larry McKee)
EDITOR'S NOTE: The latest edition of MIPrepZone Weekly - below this story - features Brother Rice's win in Saturday's Division 2 championship game. Click the play button to watch the show.
PLYMOUTH - The journey began almost a year ago to the day. Fresh off a 4-1 loss to Wyandotte-Roosevelt in the Division 2 state championship game, it didn't take Birmingham Brother Rice long to begin its quest to get back to Compuware Arena and make amends for the heartbreaking loss.
"The day after (the loss) we were already talking about next year," Warrior senior forward Mackenzie MacEachern said after Thursday's semifinal win over Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern. "We were already talking, thinking about what we could do."
Whatever MacEachern and company did, it certainly worked. Brother Rice capped off a memorable season by capturing the Division 2 state championship with a 4-1 win over Grosse Pointe South Saturday morning at Compuware Arena in Plymouth.
Junior forward Russell Cicerone scored a pair of goals and MacEachern and fellow senior Eric Dibble each added another for the Warriors, which dominated both of its opponents this weekend.
"It feels awesome, coming here, doing what we wanted to do," said MacEachern, one of the state's leading scorers and the favorite to win the Mr. Hockey award. "I really can't describe it, it's awesome winning it with my two buds right here."
His buds, senior defenseman Chris Wilberding and junior linemate Thomas Ebbing, were all a part of last year's team.
"Us three went through the defeat last year where we lost," Ebbing said. "We weren't about to face that again this year, so we came out strong and we won it. That's all that matters."
Indeed, the team did come out strong, outshooting the Blue Devils 13-5 in the first period. Dibble got things going, taking a pass from T.J. Petzold and splitting a pair of defenders before beating South goalie Christopher Schebil to his glove side for a 1-0 lead just 1:50 into the game.
The Blue Devils answered back late in the first period, as twin brothers Jake and Maxwell Corden teammed up for a power-play goal to tie it at 1-1.
From that point on it was all Brother Rice. The Warriors outshot South 14-2 in the second period, and got goals from Cicerone and MacEachern to build a 3-1 lead. Cicerone's goal was set up by sophomore Bobby Cross, who skated the puck up the right side, before centering it to Cicerone, who directed it past Schebil for what turned out to be the game-winner with 7:52 left in the second.
MacEachern's goal, which came just five minutes later, was of his usual variety ... crafty. Junior Andrew Roye's shot from the point went wide left, but bounced off the boards back to MacEachern, who skated to the bottom of the circle before lifting a backhand shot top-shelf to give his team a 3-1 lead.
Cicerone added his second with just 15 seconds to play, an empty-net goal to make it a 4-1 final.
"Incredible," said Brother Rice coach Lou Schmidt, who won his second state title as head coach of the Warriors. "Obviously, these guys worked hard and there weren't many guys in that locker room that remembered last year, but there were five and they said it wasn't going to happen again. They set their goals for March 10. We made it here and they fought hard."
Brother Rice outshot South 38-17 for the game. Jack Bowman made 16 saves in goal to get the win for the Warriors, which finished the season unbeaten in their last 21 games (20-0-1). This year's team joins the 1992 and 2005 Brother Rice squads as state champions.
"I thought the boys, they stayed focused the whole time. They never panicked, they came out and played hard every single game," Schmidt said. "We knew that if we stuck to our game plan, we were going to be successful. And they did it all six games. I couldn't ask for more as a coach."
Jason Schmitt covers high school hockey for The Oakland Press. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, read his "In The Zone" blog here and follow our high school hockey coverage on Twitter @MIPrepZone.BIRMINGHAM BROTHER RICE 4, GROSSE POINTE SOUTH 1
BR 1 2 1 - 4
GPS 1 0 0 - 1
First period: 1, BR, Eric Dibble (T.J. Petzold); 2, GPS, Jake Corden (Maxwell Corden)
Second period: 3, BR, Russell Cicerone (Bobby Cross); 4, BR, Mackenzie MacEachern (Andrew Roye)
Third period: 5, BR, Cicerone
Goalies: BR, Jack Bowman (16 saves); GPS, Christopher Schebil (34 saves)
Records: Brother Rice (25-4-1); Grosse Pointe South (22-6-1)