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HOCKEY: DU falls to Allen Park outdoors (PHOTO)

At the end of the day, all hockey teams are hoping for a win, but sometimes it’s more about the experience than the final score.

That’s how it was for the Allen Park and Dearborn Unified hockey teams who played an outdoor contest at Clark Park in Detroit on Saturday.

The Jags defeated DU 2-1.

The teams were scheduled to meet up this weekend and moved their game to the outdoor rink as a way to raise money for the park foundation and give members of both teams the unique experience.

And what a unique experience it was.

The first period passed with no score from either team, but spectators watching probably didn’t expect one.

The snow was falling hard and covered the ice completely before the game even started.

The first 17 minutes passed with laughter from the crowd and benches as players whacked away at mounds of snow, sending it flying through the air.

A passing game was quickly eliminated and the whistle was blown several times when no one knew where the puck was.

Dearborn Unified Coach Mike Sears said that although he would have liked a win, the score did not matter.

“It didn’t,” he said. “Especially after the first period when we couldn’t see the puck. Everybody was laughing.”

Jaguar Coach John Brithinee mirrored Sears’s thoughts.

“Right off the bat it’s snowing so hard you can’t even see the puck,” he said. “One time the ref blew the whistle because no one knew where the puck was.

“That part of the game was crazy.”

The first intermission brought an unusual sight for hockey fans and players alike.

Almost 30 people, hockey players and referees included went to work shoveling and clearing the ice, hoping for a more manageable second period.

The snow was taken away by wheelbarrows and others stood around warming themselves by several fire pits.

“I don’t think either coach made the teams go focus between periods,” Brithinee said. “They all hung around the fire pits.

“I don’t think I’ve ever coached a game where half my team was by one garbage can around a fire, some were out shoveling snow, a couple having a coffee in the locker room. This is the craziest thing ever. But for everybody, it was a great experience.”

The second period brought somewhat of an actual hockey game, and although the elements still slowed down the play at times, both teams had several scoring opportunities.

The Jags struck first with just 3:37 left in the second period when Travis Pippin shot one through the five-hole after traffic was created in front of the net.

“The next two periods I thought there was decent flow,” Brithinee said. “There were some scoring chances (and) the elements still were slowing the play down a little bit, but overall I think the kids had a blast.”

Dearborn Unified tied the game with 11:25 left in the final period when Zack Benavides shot one over the shoulder of Allen Park’s Cody LaButte.

The intensity picked up and the teams stayed tied for eight minutes until Austin Schultz broke in on a two-on-one and found David Pischke in front who netted one over the goalie’s blocker for the game winner.

DU pulled their goalie with 54 seconds to go and had a great scoring opportunity with a second to go, but Todd Maynard came up with the block and the Jaguars got their win.

Despite the loss, Sears still thought it was a great game.

“It was an absolute blast,” he said. “I think all the kids had a blast.

“I thought the game was pretty even. I wish we would have won, but I thought we played really well. It was a great, great event. We had a good time.”

Brithinee was pleased with his team’s win in their first outdoor game.

“I think at the end of the day, the kids always want to win. That’s what you want; that they always want to compete,” he said. “But the event itself is what they were really looking forward to.

“As soon as the second period started and they knew they could actually play hockey, you could tell they were getting excited. Even on the bench, the intensity level picked up after Dearborn scored to tie it.”

Brithinee gave all his players an opportunity to play, including all three goalies; Jake Stoddard, LaButte and Maynard who each played a period.

“We tried to play everybody as much as we could possibly play,” Brithinee said. “(But) today it was more an event.

“You want to win, you want to put your team in the best possible position to win, but there’s more to this game than the event. This is something that hopefully these kids will remember forever. I know I will.”

The money raised in the charity game was donated to the Clark Park Coalition. Between the two teams, over $250 was raised.

Earlier in the week, DU lost a tough 8-4 contest to Gibraltar Carlson.

The Marauders took a 4 goal lead before DU was able to get on board and the team trailed 8-2 after two periods.

In the final period, DU added two more to their score, but could not compete the comeback.

Goals came from Abe Dakroub (two goals), Bryce Norwood, and Jake Tomalak.

Cody Cowart had two assists and Scott Mattern and Casey Hannon each finished with one.

DU two games left in the regular season before playoffs starts on Feb. 25.



Last Updated: 2/19/2013 1:15:22 PM EST

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