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BOYS HOCKEY: Royal Oak Shrine earns spot in CHSL finals with win over Notre Dame Prep

For his entire life, Joe Nagle has wanted to play hockey at Joe Louis Arena.

Now, the Shrine captain doesn’t even have to get drafted by the Red Wings. He and his Knight teammates are bound for the Joe, playing in the Catholic League Division 2 championship at 6 p.m. next Saturday.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, so it’s just for me a dream come true,” said Nagle, whose hat trick helped Shrine beat Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 8-4 at Lindell Arena, earning the right to play in next weekend’s showcase game. It will be the first appearance in the finals for the Knights (20-1-0) who captured the sectional title with Friday’s victory.

“It’s our first actual championship that we’ve won, so there’s going to be a banner in the gym, and it’s something we can look at for the rest of our lives. It’s a really big deal for us,” he said. “I think this gives us a bit of relevance in the sport. It gives us a little recognition, it kind of puts our name out there, gives us a good reputation.”

“They’re a good club, they’ve got a real nice club this year, good luck to them, I think they’ll do real well,” Notre Dame Prep coach Bob Rosbury said.

Had the Figthing Irish won, they would have created a three-way tie atop the Catholic League standings. Instead, Shrine will face Riverview Gabriel Richard next Saturday. Shrine dealt the Pioneers their lone league loss in a 1-0 battle in January.

“It’s going to be fun, especially with this group of kids; it’s going to be amazing. We’ve got to step it up, we’ve got to get some goals, play some D, and hopefully our goaltending comes through. Let’s hope we win,” said defenseman Drake Eckert, who scored twice in the third period on slap shots from the point.

“I just tried to get the puck on the net and they just happened to go in,” said the sophomore blueliner, who got the first two-goal game of his high school career.

Shrine clung to a 3-2 lead after the second, but Knights turned the battle into a blowout by scoring five consecutive goals in a seven-minute span.

“They definitely outworked us for a good part of the second period, and we talked about that after the second, but we came out strong in the third,” Shrine coach A.J. Plaskey said. “We didn’t give up, because it was 3-2 going into the third period and it could have gone either way real quick. If it goes 3-3 it’s a totally different game, and the game could have ended up 4-3 in their favor or whatever, but we battled for the first half of the third and it helped us out tremendously.”

Chris Bradley, Zack Zednik and Chris Kelly also scored for the Knights, and Dan Tresnak had three assists. Michael Mann and goaltender Stevie Erwin each assisted on two goals.

Plaskey said Friday’s win was the biggest ever for the program.

“It is, without a doubt,” he said. “We said before the game that they had a chance to be a part of something that will be with the school and the program forever. But next week can be a bigger one.”

Last Updated: 2/8/2013 10:56:30 PM EST

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