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HOCKEY: Brother Rice bounces St. Mary's with 3-2 pre-regional victory WITH VIDEO

FARMINGTON HILLS – Inevitably it was going to happen.

The best always seem to have to square off at some point during the state playoffs. For Birmingham Brother Rice and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, that moment came Monday night in the Division 1 pre-regional semifinals at Farmington Hills Ice Arena.

The Warriors’ special teams came to play, scoring a pair of goals and nearly notching a third in their 3-2 victory over St. Mary’s. Junior Bobby Cross scored a power-play goal and senior Ross Haffey scored shorthanded for Brother Rice.

But it was its only even-strength goal that proved to be the decisive – and most controversial – goal of the night. The goal, off the stick of junior Blake Bazzi, came moments after a five-minute major penalty on the Eaglets had expired. St. Mary’s players and coaches were upset that the penalty – called when a St. Mary’s player knocked a Brother Rice player to the ice – was ruled a major penalty. Eaglets coach Brian Klanow felt the call took all the momentum away from his team.

“I don’t know how referees can throw you down nine minutes, of a 17-minute period,” Klanow said. “If I thought everything was warranted, I would say it. But I thought it was a great hit, shoulder to shoulder ... The way he hit the boards was ugly, but it wasn’t a bad hit. It wasn’t a vicious hit.

“We had a lot of momentum at that time. We were pressuring them. I’m not saying that it was the cause of us losing, what I’m saying is that it changed the momentum of the game.”

Each team had its moments controlling the play of the game. St. Mary’s came out strong, scoring just five minutes in on a power-play goal by junior Anthony Scarsella – assisted by junior Dakota Ulmer and Danny Tinsman.

Brother Rice shifted that momentum late in the first, tying the game up on the power play. Cross took a shot from the point that sailed up and over the shoulders of the St. Mary’s goalie to make it a 1-1 game.

The Warriors carried that momentum into the second, where they took a 2-1 lead on a shorthanded goal by Haffey.

“In a game like this, with a lot of emotion, a lot of adrenaline, you’re fighting for every inch of ice,” Brother Rice coach Lou Schmidt said. “We just tried to keep the puck deep and try to get shots on their goalie, and we were fairly effective at that.”

Brother Rice outshot St. Mary’s, 30-20, for the game. Goalie Jack Bowman stopped 18 of the 20 shots he faced Monday night. The Eaglets’ second goal came with 4:42 remaining in the game. They couldn’t get the tying goal, despite having a power play and pulling their goalie over the final three minutes of the game.

It was the fourth time this season Brother Rice had beaten St. Mary’s (13-12-1). Prior to this game, the Warriors had beaten the Eaglets a week ago in the Catholic League Division 1 championship game at Joe Louis Arena.

Brother Rice (21-3-2) will face Farmington Hills Unified in Wednesday’s pre-regional final, back at Farmington Hills Ice Arena. The Flyers beat Birmingham Unified, 6-4, in the night’s first semifinal.

“It doesn’t get any easier. That was a real good hockey team,” Schmidt said of St. Mary’s. “Now we get to live for another game. We’ve got Farmington Unified on Wednesday. It’s one game at a time. Hopefully if we’re playing well, and we’re healthy, then we could get to see whoever comes out of the other side of the bracket on Saturday.”

Jason Schmitt covers high school hockey for The Oakland Press. Email him at jason.schmitt@oakpress.com, read his "In The Zone" blog here and follow our high school hockey coverage on Twitter @MIPrepZone.



BROTHER RICE 3, ST. MARY’S 2

BR 1 1 1 - 3

SM 1 0 1 - 2

First period: 1, SM, Anthony Scarsella (Dakota Ulmer, Danny Tinsman); 2, BR, Bobby Cross (Conner Jean, Matthew Manning)

Second period: 3, BR, Ross Haffey (Tommy Theoharis, Manning)

Third period: 4, BR, Blake Bazzi (Jean); 5, SM, Johnathon Zalecki (Scarsella, Tinsman)

RECORDS: Brother Rice 21-3-1; St. Mary’s 13-12-1

Last Updated: 2/26/2013 1:22:37 AM EST

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