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HOCKEY: Oxford's Gizinski steals the show, and a win against rival Lake Orion

ROCHESTER – The Oxford Wildcats boys hockey team picked up an emotional 2-0 win over their rivals, the Lake Orion Dragons, before a packed house at Onyx Ice Arena Saturday night.

When the final horn sounded, the Wildcats mobbed goaltender Justin Gizinski, who stole the show, making 33 saves, as Oxford overcame 11 Lake Orion power plays to post the shutout. As is often the case when a team has to kill a large number of power plays, the Wildcats needed their goaltender to be at his best in those situations, and Gizinski was exactly that, making a string of highlight reel saves in the third period.

But perhaps his best and most important came with 5:18 left in the second period, when the Dragons were awarded a penalty shot 18 seconds into their sixth power play of the night, when one of the Wildcat defenders was called for laying on the puck in the crease. But Gizinski calmly came out of his net and stoned Connor Moesta with a textbook poke check.

“At the end of the day, their goalie (Gizinski) flat out played awesome for them,” Lake Orion head coach Nick Field said. “Give that kid credit. They deserve to win when that kid plays like that.”

The game was a physical affair that occasionally spilled over with a lot of pushing and shoving after whistles. And the Wildcats paid the price in penalties, but strong penalty killing gave Gizinski a chance to see a most of the shots from Lake Orion’s power play.

“Give credit to our penalty kill too. As much as we were shot tonight, our penalty kill was excellent. We had a strong box. We were getting in lanes, so we had great pressure on their power play,” Oxford head coach Dave Hague said. “I was real proud of our penalty kill.”

The Wildcat penalty kill even chipped in the game winning goal as Connor Novak opened the scoring just over a minute into the second period by chipping the puck loose at the Wildcat blue line and winning the race down the ice before snapping home a wrist shot into the top corner to give Oxford the lead.

“In a game like this where there is a lot of people here. It’s a big rivalry. It’s intense. You almost need something like that to calm you down and make yourself believe right away,” Hague said. “We know that going into a game like this that there is no stopping the emotion. It’s intense. It’s a rival. There’s a lot of people here. Any little thing on the ice gets exaggerated and turned into a big thing.”

A bit over five minutes later, Austin Kurkowski fired a shot from behind the Lake Orion net that deflected off a pile of players in front and into the back of the net to double Oxford’s lead, and the Wildcat defense would make it stand up despite constant pressure from Lake Orion in the third period as the Dragons pinned the Wildcats in with the help of five third period power plays and solid play from the Lake Orion defense who did a solid job of cutting off the Wildcat counter and either holding the puck in at the blue line or quickly recycling possession in the neutral zone.

In the end, both coaches were content with the way their teams played in this heated game.

“It was a good game. I thought we played really well,” Field said. “We played hard. The effort was there, but the results weren’t,” he added.

“It was a good win,” Hague said. “We played well tonight. We stuck to our system. We did the little things. We’re real big on doing the little things.” Hague added that, “I’m real proud of the guys.”

With the win, Oxford improves to 6-6-1 overall and 1-2-1 in OAA Red ahead of Thursday’s league contest against Clarkston. Lake Orion falls to 4-7-3 overall and 0-2-2 in OAA Red.

Last Updated: 1/13/2013 12:43:01 AM EST

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