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REGIONAL HOCKEY: Marauders defeat Bucs behind strong second period (PHOTO GALLERY)

  • Austin Bliznik (8) had two goals in Carlson's 4-1 win over 2013 Final Four team Riverview in Monday's pre-regional game. The Marauders move on to face Grosse Ile Wednesday night. Photos by Tom Alexander

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Before the puck even dropped in Monday’s pre-regional matchup between the Pirates and Marauders, both school’s student sections engaged each other in some friendly chanting. Fans packed the stands, with the bulk being students from both schools. A student in a banana suit led chants for the Pirates, while the Marauders fired back with louder chants of their own.

Once the puck dropped, the chants continued, and it led to a fast and physical hockey game, with lots of great back and forth. Unfortunately, only one team could win the game and move on in the playoffs.

The Marauders used a big second period to power themselves past the Pirates, who were one of the final four teams last year at Compuware. The Marauders scored three goals in the second period, two of which were within two minutes of each other, and one late in the third to win 4-1 over the Bucs.

“We were on all cylinders in the second period,” said Carlson Coach Dennis Gundick. The Marauders held the Bucs to just six shots in the second period, all of which occurred with less than six minutes left in the period.

“They carried the puck to us, in the first part of (the period),” said Riverview Coach Al Taurence. “We picked it up in the last half. I think we had six shots on net from the six-minute mark in. So we picked it up a little bit.”

It was a furious first period, with only penalty, but a late holding penalty with one second left to senior forward and captain Tyler Rode was just the start of bad things for the Pirates in the second.

They killed it off, but took another penalty, an interference call by senior captain Shane Nowak just seconds after killing off the Rode penalty. “Tyler Rode took a penalty, which was deserved, and then they (referees) called one on Shane, which I thought was a very bad call. I discussed it with the referees in between the period, and so you’re playing shorthanded for four minutes, straight,” said Taurence.

“It had the effect that Taurence and his Bucs team was hoping wouldn’t happen. Late on the PP, Marauders junior forward Andrew Coleman took a beautiful pass from the left circle from junior forward Pat Holder and snapped a shot through the five-hole of Pirates senior goaltender, Zack Millisor. Sophomore forward Gage Darga tallied the other assist on the goal for Carlson.

Riverview wasn’t going down that hard just yet, as the student section chanted, “We still got this!” That chant quickly died once junior forward Austin Bliznik fired a shot on a rebound to an open net to give the Marauders a 2-0 lead. Senior defenseman Dylan Nixdorf and Holder both had the assists on Bliznik’s first goal of the night, just three and a half minutes after the first goal.

The nail in the coffin came just under a minute later. Senior defenseman Nick Milot carried the puck from his own zone into the neutral zone, and fired a shot between center ice and the blue line, and somehow found a way past Millisor. The unassisted tally really put a damper on any momentum the Bucs tried to gain.

“It created problems for us. We had to think about pulling our goalie,” said Taurence.

The Bucs found life though, and once the six-minute mark hit, the pressure started coming. The offensive pressure paid off in the form of a penalty, and a goal 27 seconds into that power play.

The lone goal for the Bucs came from senior defenseman Tyler Bozynski, who let off a rocket of a shot, and thanks to a screen in front, found it’s way over the glove of senior goaltender Ellis Graham. Junior forward Dalton Sutherland and senior forward and captain Chris Hass had the assists on the goal, which was scored with just 29 seconds left in the second period.

Bozynski’s goal could’ve been the momentum pusher the Bucs needed, but they just couldn’t muster enough offense to get another two goals to tie it. As the clock ticked down, Taurence pulled Millisor with almost four minutes left. They needed goals and fast, and once the puck made it to center-ice, Bliznik shut the door on the game with an empty-netter to seal it for the Mauraders. Junior forward Tyler McIntosh and Holder both had the assists.

Things became chippy near the end, which resulted in a couple of penalties for both sides, but in the end, the Marauders held their cool, and the lead, and now will face Grosse Ile on Wednesday night in the same building. The Marauders finished with 27 shots, while the Pirates finished with 20.

As for the Bucs, their season ended a lot sooner than last year’s team, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be back next year. In fact, they’ve already started planning for next year.

“We graduated I think 13 guys last year. We were much younger, we were just kind of going over our roster for next year already. We will have more kids on our team next year already, then what we have on our team this year,” said Taurence.

Just because the team is planning for next year, doesn’t mean Taurence doesn’t appreciate what his seniors meant to this team this year.

“Our six seniors this year, I’ve never seen six seniors work so hard in my life. They learned from last year’s seniors. They went over and above that this year. Whether we were winning 4-1 or down 4-1 or 5-1, they worked hard every shift they went out there.”

“It’s been a good year, a good experience for the underclassmen. I feel bad for the seniors. We’ve never had any scoring on this team all year. We had to resort to playing good defensive hockey and it didn’t work out.”

Gundick looks forward to a good matchup with the Red Devils. Before the game, they will prepare on Tuesday night, hoping to fine-tune their penalty kill and power play.

“We work every practice on our PK and our PP. We’re just going to reiterate the fine stuff, the small game stuff. Winning the battles down low. We’re playing a good team, Grosse Ile’s good. Last time we played them it was 2-1, it was a good game up and down.”

Last Updated: 2/24/2014 11:42:15 PM EST