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HOCKEY: Allen Park, Richard set up News-Herald final

It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win.

The Allen Park hockey team secured itself a spot in the News-Herald hockey tournament finals with a 2-0 win over defending champ Roosevelt.

“I think it was two teams that were scraping and clawing,” Allen Park John Brithinee said about the contest. “(But) we had to do what it took to win.”

What it took to win was a goal in the first two periods and a shutout from Allen Park goalie Cody LaButte.

The winning goal came just five and a half minutes into the opening period when Allen Park’s Michael Szalai flipped one in with help from Chris Sisco and David Pischke.

Two minutes later the Jags scored again, but the goal was called off when it was deemed to go off of a player’s hand.

The teams traded penalties and the Jags took the 1-0 lead late into the second half.

With the period drawing to a close, Nick Kelly found a hole in the traffic in front of the net for the two-goal lead with 2:50 to go.

Nik Francis and Branden Kilburg had the assists.

The third period was fairly uneventful until the final minutes.

Allen Park killed off a penalty after they were called for high sticking with 4:16 to go.

With two minutes left to play, Roosevelt called a timeout and pulled its goal. With 1:22 left to play, Allen Park was called for hooking.

It was a tough situation, but the Jags pulled it off and finished the game with the shutout.

“When you play teams that are this good and this skilled, six on four we’re gonna struggle,” Brithinee said. “I know that we gave up some shots but Cody just played fantastic.

“I tip my hats off to the kids because six on four’s tough to touch the puck and we had pretty good pressure for awhile and then we took control and started icing the puck.”

It was an emotional internally for the Jaguars and Brithinee was happy to get the win.

“I came in very cranked up,” he said. “We had a bit of a rough week internally with our team.

“It was one of those games where I don’t think either team was giving the other team a lot of space. I’m not unhappy with the way we played. We played with a lot more grit than we’ve been playing with in the past and that’s what we need.”

Brithinee said his with the win, his team gained valuable experiences.

“They’re starting to understand what it’s gonna take,” he said. “It’s not easy to win and it’s gonna take games like that. These are the games that will make us a better team.”

Brithinee said a win over Roosevelt, historically one of two predominant teams in the area, was big for his squad.

“At the end of the day it’s Wyandotte,” he said. “They’re a very well-coached team. They’re fast, they’re gritty, they hit everything that moves.

“They play tough hockey (and) I’m happy with our win.”

Roosevelt Coach Mike Quint said it was a tough loss for his team who won the tournament last year.

“You gotta score goals and we don’t score any goals,” he said. “We’re gonna go back to the drawing board and work on it some more.”

Despite the loss, Quint did not think it was a blowout.

“The shots were even,” he said. “It’s not like we totally got outplayed, we just have to score goals.

“We’re young. They have 15 seniors and we have 10 sophomores. We have great respect for all the teams Downriver. (Tomorrow) we’ll just have to see how we play and I’m sure we’ll come out and try to give a battle.”

In the 7:30 game, Gabriel Richard goalie Matt Mandernach led the host Pioneers to a 4-1 victory over Riverview to secure a spot in Saturday’s championship.

Like the early game, it was a 2-0 game before things got interesting in the third period.

Early in the final period, Richard took a penalty and Mandernach made a big save for the hosts to keep them in the game.

But Riverview was persistent and finally got on board with 11:20 to go in the final period. Tyler Bozysnki found John Clemente right in front of the net and the sophomore banged it in and suddenly it was a one-goal game.

But the momentum went as quickly as it came.

Eight seconds later, Richard’s Tyler Riney scored a top shelf goal, his second of the night.

Jonathon Rhind had the assist.

Richard Coach Rick DeSana knew how important the goal was.

“That was very, very good,” he said. “They had the momentum and the game could have been tied and heading into overtime, so that was a big goal by Tyler.”

Riverview Assistant Coach Anthony Schooley also knew how big it was.

“The change of the game was when we scored to be down 2-1 and then eight seconds later they put the puck in the net,” he said. “Our all-time high, thinking we can come back and win this game, went back down to there’s not chance to win this game.”

Richard added an insurance goal on the power play later in the period.

With 8:30 to go, Riverview was called for a penalty that set up 14 seconds of a four on three. When the Pioneers went back to full strength, there were still 59 seconds of a five on three left and the Pioneers capitalized as the first penalty was ending.

Michael Hodgson got the power play goal with help from Rhind.

Richard took an early lead in the opening period when Riney scored his first just over a minute into the contest.

Hodgson and John Ames had the assists.

The game-wining goal came from Devin Dickow in the second period. With 2:54 to go the senior found the back of the net on the power play for a 2-0 lead.

Eric Blevins had the assist.

DeSana was happy with the win and the play of his goalie.

“I thought Matt paned really, really strong,” he said. “Even at times I thought we outplayed them, but they had plenty of good scoring opportunities.”

Richard has had a strong campaign so far this season and DeSana was pleased with the win, but said his team can improve.

“We’ve been in some tight games and we’ve been on the winning side,” he said. “We have a good team, but we have a long way to go to be able to compete for anything in the postseason.

“The biggest thing was turnovers. In the first period, we gave up too many odd man rushes. We gave them very, very good scoring opportunities and we can’t do that.

“But when we did do that, Matt came up big.”

Schooley said at the end of the day, his team simply got outplayed, specifically in the second period.

“We can definitely play with that team,” he said. “They’re one of the best teams and I’ll give them credit. They outplayed us more than we outplayed them.”

The Bucs’ expectations were to try to keep things a one-goal game and Schooley says the expectations will be the same in the finals.

Schooley said he believes Roosevelt will be a little more challenging with the depth the team brings.

“They have three lines that can work you hard,” he said. If we’re gonna win the hockey game, it’s gonna be 2-1, 1-0, 3-2.

“We’re not gonna score four or five goals.”

Riverview will face Roosevelt at 5:00 on Saturday in the consolation game.

Richard will take on Allen Park at 7:00 in the championship, the first time either team has been in the finals in a number of years.

“Tomorrow will be a battle,” DeSana said. “Allen Park’s a very good team and they have a ton of depth, where we don’t have as much depth.

“We’ll give them the best we can.”

Last Updated: 12/28/2013 1:35:56 AM EST

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