TROY – D.J. Myers is a believer in ‘practice makes perfect.”
Myers, Pearce Baker and John Hunter scored and Michael Fisher had 21 saves to lead Troy to a 3-1 victory over visiting Royal Oak in an Oakland Activities Association White Division hockey game Wednesday night.
“We had a couple great practices this week and the boys really came together,” said Myers, a senior forward who scored with 2:50 left in the third period to put the Colts ahead, 3-1.
“We had a good team dinner and everybody was ready play,” Myers said. “I think we found that team cohesiveness and now we just go to try and keep the momentum going.”
Troy (7-7 overall) opened the scoring at 10:28 of the first period when Baker, a 5-foot-11 sophomore, beat Ravens sophomore goalkeeper Danny Harlick, who faced 35 shots.
The Colts took a 1-0 lead into the second period with an eye on beating the Ravens for a second time this season.
“I can’t remember the last time we swept a team in a season,” Troy coach Tim Zimmerman said, noting the Colts defeated Royal Oak earlier in the season, 7-4. “We didn’t let them back in the game after they scored.”
In the second period, Royal Oak sophomore forward Griffin Kernen took a beautiful pass from freshman Clay Kosnick and beat Fisher to tie the game 1-1 at 6:09. Kernen’s hustle throughout the contest was rewarded with the tying goal.
But Troy came right back 32 seconds after Kernen’s tying goal when Hunter, a junior forward, scored from the left circle to give Troy the lead back at 2-1.
“We’re a very young team,” Royal Oak coach Craig Ward said Wednesday. “This is my first year (Ward also coached Royal Oak in 2003), so it’s going to take a while to get used to our system. One thing for sure they are learning the correct way to play hockey.
“I thought Griffin played well and Kosie (Kosnick) made a great effort to tip the puck and Griffin buried it,” Ward noted about the Ravens lone goal on the night. “We need more of that.”
With both Fisher and Harlick turning away shots to keep their teams in the game, Myers put the game away late in the second.
Harlick (32 saves) made the initial save on a slap shot, but Myers stayed with the puck and shot it passed Royal Oak’s athletic goalkeeper.
“Overall we had three defensive breakdowns on all three of Troy’s goals,” Ward said. “But Troy has been around. They are experienced – a good team. I think we got a little bit outworked. You got to play all 51 minutes.”
Royal Oak (4-7-1 overall) was its own worst enemy after going 0-for-7 on the power play as special teams rose to the occasion for Troy.
In a wide-open third period, Royal Oak feisty forward Evan Fall let loose a wrist shot that grazed off the crossbar over Fisher’s left shoulder, then Fisher robbed the Ravens’s Andrew Hall, a junior defenseman, with a glove save with 4:46 left to keep it a 2-goal game.
The Ravens didn’t help themselves in trying to tie the score when they played the final four minutes of the game shorthanded with Chris Geldof in the box for a double minor.
“Since we’ve been back from (Christmas) break we’ve been playing more consistently,” Zimmerman said. “We are gradually finding our defense and making good decisions.”
Royal Oak’s next game is against Auburn Hills Avondale, while Troy will host Livonia Franklin on Saturday.
“We’re going to try and keep the momentum going,” Myers said.
And maybe another good practice.