FARMINGTON – The Farmington Hills Unified Flyers picked up a 5-1 victory Saturday night over the Oxford Wildcats in the OAA Red boys hockey opener for both teams.
The key stretch came late in the second period when the Flyers scored three goals in just over a minute to break open a tie game. With the score tied 1-1 Reede Burnett’s shot from the blue line found its way through a screen in front to give the Flyers the lead with just 2:44 to play in the second period. The goal seemed to discombobulate the Wildcats a bit, and the Flyers took full advantage.
Burnett extended the Flyers’ lead to 3-1 just 41 seconds later, firing a shot from down low that just trickled over the goal line. Another goal would follow for the flyers just 27 seconds later, and suddenly the Farmington Hills Unified had a three goal cushion heading to the third period.
“Our compete level was high. We had a stretch where they scored three quick goals, and other than that stretch, it was a competitive game, back and forth,” Oxford head coach Dave Hague said.
“We started doing the little things right. We got some ugly goals by going to the net hard, took advantage of some breaks, and it worked out,” Flyers head coach Ken Anderson said. “We saw that they were down a little bit and took advantage,” he added.
The teams had traded goals late in the second, just before the Flyers three goal outburst with Eric Stanis scoring for Farmington Hills Unified and Steven Fowler replying for Oxford. Alex Minasian added a late power play goal to complete the scoring for the Flyers.
The Flyers also had a solid night defensively, pressuring Oxford on the forecheck, even when the Flyers were shorthanded, and Oxford struggled to get set up the offensive zone much of the night, though they still found ways to generate shots. But they could only beat Flyers goaltender Hunter Myers once, while Myers made 22 saves in a solid performance.
“We like to be aggressive with our forecheck, even on the penalty kill. Don’t let them get a chance to set up. Be aggressive with active sticks, and when you get it on your stick, ice it. It’s that simple. It’s an attitude,” Anderson said.
One bright spot for Oxford was their penalty kill, which had a solid night allowing only two power play goals in eight attempts despite facing three long five on three situations with defensemen Brandon Orr and Alex Schleuter leading the way for the Wildcats defensively.
Despite the loss, Hague was pretty optimistic about what he saw from his team in this early season encounter. “We’re going to learn from this, and we’re going to be alright. We’re going to build from this. Our compete level was high. I saw a lot of good in a few players that we’ve been looking to get going. Losing’s tough, but we’ll find some good in this game.”
With the win, Farmington Hills Unified improves to 4-1 overall and 1-0 in OAA Red. The Flyers have a pair of key OAA Red games next weekend when they travel to Rochester United on Friday before hosting Clarkston on Saturday. Oxford has a week off before playing Muskegeon in a non-league contest next Friday.