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HOCKEY: Power play leads the way as Birmingham Unified rolls past Marysville in Showcase

ROCHESTER HILLS — The Birmingham Unified Kings defeated the Marysville Vikings, 4-1, in the MAC/OAA Showcase Saturday.

The difference in the game was the Kings’ power play, which connected three times over the final two periods to provide Birmingham Unified with its margin of victory.

“We’ve been working on our power play a ton lately,” Birmingham Unified head coach John Chateau said. “We went into today trying to do what we’ve been doing in practice in the game, and we implemented it, and we’re happy with it,” he added.

“I don’t think our penalty kill was bad. We just put a lot of pressure on our penalty killers and eventually it caught up to us,” Vikings head coach Paul Moretz said.

The Vikings were shorthanded eight times in all, while the Kings were shorthanded just four times. “It’s definitely something we need to understand, and that’s part of the process of learning how to win and what it takes to win,” he added.

The game was otherwise a very even affair, with the Vikings matching the Kings shot for shot at even strength. Both teams were playing a physical, grinding game along the boards five on five, particularly in a tight first period that saw both teams struggle to create much offense.

It didn’t take long for that to change in the second period, however, as the Vikings picked up the game’s first goal just 28 seconds into the middle period when Kyle King’s blue-line wrister snuck through a crowd to give the Vikings the 1-0 lead.

But the Vikings would also pick up the game’s first penalty, just 20 seconds later, and the Kings would tie the score on the ensuing power play with Tom McLeod banging in a rebound. Zach Taylor would score the game winner for the Kings late in the period on a similar play where the puck lay just outside the crease and three Kings players would converge on the puck trying to whack it in before Taylor managed to put in the third rebound.

Marysville wouldn’t go down without a fight though, trading shots with the Kings in the third period and finishing with 28 for the game, as the Vikings fought hard to come back, led by a group of energetic young players including freshman Evan Brown and junior Jordan Horne.

“I thought the majority of our younger players played well today,” Moretz said.

In the end though, two more Birmingham Unified power-play goals, one each from Spencer Schoen and Jordan Agnew, and strong goaltending by Jacob Saroli proved too much to overcome.

“I thought we played pretty decent,” Moretz said. “We’re just unable to close games out. We’re playing just good enough to compete in games, but not good enough to win,” he added.

With the win, Birmingham Unified stops a recent losing skid and gets back in the win column, improving to 10-8 overall heading into the MIHL Showcase in Trenton next week, where it will take on Woodhaven and Warren De La Salle.

“Our guys worked hard, and it was good to see,” Chateau said. “We had a little bit of a losing stretch there, and we needed to capitalize and have a good win. We played a good team today, and we played well.”

Marysville slips to 7-10-1. The Vikings travel to Fraser for a MAC crossover game on Wednesday.

Last Updated: 2/4/2013 2:51:54 AM EST

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