Rochester United goalie Brody Blair makes a save as Macomb Dakota’s Sammy Shaheen moves in for the rebound during the second period of their game at the MAC/OAA Showcase played on Saturday at the Onyx Arena in Rochester Hills. Blair got the shutout for RU in their 4-0 win over Dakota. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)
Hockey - Boys
HOCKEY: Rochester United hands Macomb Dakota its first loss of the season at Showcase
Rochester United’s Zack Decker (17) moves around the back of the net as Macomb Dakota’s Sammy Shaheen (16) pursues during the first period Saturday night. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)
Rochester United’s Tony Nassar (11) stretches to reach the puck as Macomb Dakota’s Chad Roskelly (6) moves in during the second period Saturday night. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)
Macomb Dakota’s Matt Riehl (21) and Rochester United’s Ryan Bradley (13) battle for the puck during their game at the MAC/OAA Showcase Saturday. Rochester United won the game, 4-0, as the OAA won 11 of the 15 games played. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)
ROCHESTER HILLS – It took a few months, but the Dakota hockey team finally met its match. Rochester United handed the Cougars its first loss of the season on Saturday night, in a matchup of No. 1 seeds at the MAC/OAA Showcase at Rochester Onyx.
Rochester managed three power-play goals and junior goalie Brody Blair made 33 saves in the 4-0 shutout.
Instead of being downtrodden after seeing his team move to 18-1 overall on the season, Dakota coach Mike Jakubik actually was relieved. The pressure of remaining unbeaten, he reasons, is now off his team’s shoulders.
“It was a good learning opportunity,” Jakubik explained. “It’s kind of nice having the monkey off your back, where everyone is saying that you’re undefeated and they’re gunning for you. Any team would kill to be 18-1; it’s nothing to hang our heads about.”
It was, however, quite the statistical departure for Dakota. The team has averaged nearly six goals per game this year, and given up only a goal per game on average. The Cougars had allowed more than two goals in a game just once, prior to Saturday. Eight times this season, Dakota had shut out its opponent and had yet to be blanked.
The unfamiliarity of playing from behind may also have been a factor.
“We’ve never been down two goals yet,” Jakubik said. “They weren’t ready for it. If anything, it’s a good lesson.”
Dakota had a great deal of opportunities to score. It outshot Rochester by a considerable 33-16 margin. Yet, even with seven power play chances, it was not the Cougars’ night.
Rochester’s power play connected on opportunities twice in the third period, including one during a full two minute five-on-three advantage. The team swarmed the Cougars’ zone, before blasting home a one-timer that senior goalie Anthony Benvenuti actually got a piece of. The goalie did everything he could to ward off the close-range chances.
“You can’t give a good team a five-on-three,” Jakubik said. “You give a good team a chance like that, they’re going to capitalize.”
The third goal also came with the man advantage, at 3:17. An even strength marker at 2:13 rounded out the scoring.
The second period saw Dakota own the offensive zone. The Cougars peppered Blair with 14 shots in the 17-minute frame, but were unable to capitalize.
Dakota senior Chad Roskelly had a couple of glorious chances – in particular a booming one-timer that Blair somehow saw through a maze of bodies in front.
Rochester United enjoyed three power plays in the first period, including a five-on-three opportunity. It was only moments after one of its two men in the box got out that Dakota yielded a power play goal.
Senior forward Mike Pelino scored what was eventually the game winning goal.