WATERFORD – The visiting Hartland Eagles boys hockey team stayed perfect in conference play with a 4-1 win over the host Lakeland Eagles in a KLAA Lakes Conference showdown on Wednesday night.
Chris McRae led the offensive charge, scoring all four of Hartland’s goals. McRae opened the scoring midway through the first period when he weaved through some traffic in front of the Lakeland net and tucked in a back-handed shot.
McRae then completed a natural hat trick in the second period by getting two more goals from in close, to stake Hartland to a 3-0 lead with 2:38 left in the period.
“Chris’s individual effort was great tonight, which is good,” Hartland head coach Rick Gadwa said. “It’s good to see him play like that, especially to get off the horse. He’s been struggling to put the puck in the net, so it was nice to see.”
Lakeland got a ray of hope just before the second period ended when Kyle Jakubowski drove the left side and dropped a pass into the slot, which Trent Lloyd slapped home with a one-timer to make it 3-1 after two periods. But that was all the offense Lakeland could muster on the night as the Hartland defense played a strong game in their own end, especially in front of the net, holding Lakeland to just 11 shots on goal for the game.
“We played a physical game, tough in front of our net,” Gadwa said. “From our net, in front of our crease area we were very strong.”
Overall, the game was a physical affair with both teams giving as good as they had, but Hartland was able to win a few more battles in front of the nets, and converted their advantage in possession into shots on goal. In all, Hartland fired 37 shots at Lakeland goaltender Adam Szymanski, who had a strong game in net, making 33 saves, including a handful of spectacular efforts in the first two periods to keep Lakeland close.
“Adam’s a sophomore. This is his first year on varsity, so every game is a learning experience. He’s picking up the tempo of the game playing with older guys, and he’s progressing nicely,” Lakeland head coach Tim Ronayne said.
All in all, Ronayne was pleased with the way his team competed on the night, even if the result didn’t go their way.
“We had the effort. We just didn’t get the results. We worked real hard and didn’t give up,” Ronayne said. “It was just a matter of them putting the puck in the right spot, and that was in the back of the net.”
With the win, Hartland improves to 8-1 overall and 6-0 in KLAA play. Hartland will now take a week off before heading up to Traverse City to compete in a tournament beginning next Wedmesday. Lakeland falls to 4-5-1 overall and 1-4 in KLAA play ahead of Saturday’s road trip to Milford.