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Pioneers struggle, fall to SMCC in quarterfinals PHOTO GALLERY

  • Michael Hodgson (91) scored for the Gabriel Richard hockey team Wednesday night but it wasn't enough for his Pioneers who fell 4-2 to Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central in the MHSAA quarterfinals at Yost Arena in Ann Arbor. Photos by Dave Chapman

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They came out with a little more spunk in their skates in the third period but it wasn’t enough for the Gabriel Richard hockey team to overcome a rough start.

The Pioneers fell 4-2 in the MHSAA quarterfinals to Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central at Yost Arena in Ann Arbor Wednesday night.

“For one reason or another, we did not come out and play well in the first period and that seemed to set the tone for the game,” Coach Ricky DeSana said. “We were very slow in our decision making and just kept turning the puck over.

“We knew how they play and did not execute.”

Down by two goals after two periods, Richard came out determined to get back in the game. They capitalized just two minutes in, cutting the deficit in half.

John Sawicki fired a one-timer straight to the back of the net for a 3-2 game.

Michael Hodgson assisted.

Over the next few minutes, the Pioneers got a few chances, but were unable to capitalize.

The Falcons kept up with pressure of their own and with 8:56 to play added an insurance goal that capped the night’s scoring.

Thirty seconds later the Pioneers came down with the pressure and took a shot but it went just high of the net. The teams traded penalties down the stretch, but the score stood through the final buzzer.

The Falcons took their first lead of the game almost halfway into the opening period.

With 9:29 to go, they snuck one through traffic in front of the net.

The rest of the period belonged to the Falcons, who saw another handful of scoring chances that either skirted across the front of or were fired just wide.

The Pioneers got on board halfway through the second.

As his team’s power play was expiring, Hodgson picked up a rebound and buried it into the lower right corner for a tied game.

Brendon Damron assisted.

But just over two minutes later, SMCC took a lead for good with a power play goal. With 22 seconds left in the penalty, the Falcons found the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.

The game-winner came two minutes later when SMCC won a faceoff and Jacob Willets fired one through the five hole for a 3-1 lead.

DeSana was disappointed with the loss and said his team simply didn’t play their game.

“You want to play your best game the last game of the season, and that we definitely did not,” he said. “It was a team loss. We struggled from the goal out, and I as a coach take responsibility for a disappointing loss.”

The loss came days after the Pioneers’ first regional championship in four years. Last weekend they knocked off Carlson for the title.

“When you don’t win the last game of the season it is always tough, but we had a great season and have a lot to be proud of,” DeSana said. “Winning a regional championship was a great accomplishment. Beating two big rivals and two schools more than three times our size in Southgate and Carlson was a great ride.

“The players will remember and talk about those games for the rest of their lives.”

The Pioneers finished the season 21-6-1.

With the win, the Falcons moved on to the MHSAA Final Four and will play in the semifinals Friday at Compuware Arena.

Last Updated: 3/6/2014 12:30:12 PM EST