Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood's Austin Alger (18) lets a shot rip during his team's 9-3 win over Birmingham Brother Rice Friday night. Alger scored four goals in his team's lopsided victory. (Special to The Oakland Press/ALAN DeCLERCK)
Hockey - Boys
HOCKEY: Cranbrook crushes Brother Rice in mighty matchup WITH VIDEO
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood's Andrew DeClerck (6) fights for the puck as a pair Brother Rice defensemen close in Friday night. His Cranes beat Brother Rice, 9-3, in a battle of two of the state's best teams. (Special to The Oakland Press/ALAN DeCLERCK)
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood's Austin Alger (18) skates up ice during his team's 9-3 win over Birmingham Brother Rice Friday night. Alger scored four goals in his team's lopsided victory. (Special to The Oakland Press/ALAN DeCLERCK)
Birmingham Brother Rice's Andrew Roye skates out from behind the net with the puck during his team's loss to Cranbrook Friday night. (Special to The Oakland Press/ALAN DeCLERCK)
BLOOMFIELD HILLS – It’s pretty safe to say no one saw what was coming Friday night at Wallace Ice Arena in Bloomfield Hills.
If anyone claims to have known, they’d have been lying.
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood scored the game’s first goal just 2:55 after the puck dropped, and the Cranes didn’t stop until the final buzzer sounded in a 9-3 romp over Birmingham Brother Rice in what began as a matchup of the state’s top two teams.
Cranbrook entered the game No. 1 in the coaches’ Division 3 rankings, No. 1 in the USHSHO computer rankings. Brother Rice was ranked No. 1 in Division 1 and No. 2 by the computers.
But the game looked anything but like a matchup of two teams that played to a 2-2 tie less than two months ago. Sophomore Austin Alger scored four times, assisting on another, as the Cranes scored three times in each period to lock up the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League (MIHL) championship.
“Our line came out jumping, bodies, (we did) all the little things that make the difference,” said Alger, who now has 16 goals and 41 points this season. “The rest of the team caught on, (and in) a high-temp game, we just took over.”
That they did. The Cranes jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by sophomore Mason Schultz and Alger. Brother Rice cut the lead in half on a goal by senior Hunter Clark off a slap shot from the blue line, but Cranbrook answered right back as Alger scored unassisted to give his team a 3-1 lead after one period.
Alger then completed his hat trick six minutes into the second, upping the lead to 4-1. Rice again cut the lead in half, 4-2, as junior Blake Bazzi scored off a pass from senior Andrew Roye.
But Cranbrook once again answered right back, asserting its dominance with a Zach Feldman goal just nine seconds later. It would add another, by senior Billy Young, late in the period to up its lead to 6-2. Alger assisted on that goal. Alger, Young, and senior Alex Alger accounted for five goals and 11 points on the night.
“You’ve got to give them credit. They outworked us in every aspect of the game,” Brother Rice coach Lou Schmidt said. “When they’re working like that, they have a habit of making you look bad. And today they made us look bad.”
Sophomore Sam Miletic, junior Christopher Brown also scored in the win, with Austin Alger adding his fourth. With just two league games remaining, the Cranes (19-2-1-0) clinched the league title.
“It was just amazing, there are no words,” Austin Alger said. “It’s awesome.”
Senior Russell Cicerone scored Brother Rice’s third and final goal. The Warriors are 17-2-2-1 and will take on Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Saturday in the Catholic High School League Division 1 championship game.
“Obviously, we’ve got to regroup now,” Schmidt said. “We’ve got to learn from this. I just told the boys the best thing to do is forget about it. But we’ve got to learn from our mistakes. We got outworked. They won the battle, they won the races, and it’s just the little things.
“Today we got down early and we stopped competing. And you stop against a team like that and they’ll just keep coming at you.”
Jason Schmitt covers high school hockey for The Oakland Press. Email him at email@example.com, read his "In The Zone" blog here and follow our high school hockey coverage on Twitter @MIPrepZone.