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Trojans win 14th state title PHOTO GALLERY/TOUT VIDEO

  • With an 8-3 victory against Hartland in the Division 2 state finals on Saturday, Trenton brought home its 14th state title in school history. Photo by Frank Wladyslawski, remaining gallery photos by Dave Chapman
By the end of the second period Saturday morning, Trenton’s 14th Michigan High School Hockey Association state hockey title was a Dunn deal.

​Senior captain Justin Dunn scored three times in the first two periods – causing a shower of hats to litter the ice at Compuware Arena – and helped lead the Trojans to an 8-3 victory over Hartland in the Division 2 championship game.

​The state championship was also the 11th in the career of veteran Trenton Coach Mike Turner, who is the state’s all-time victories leader with 629 wins.

​In the early going, the game looked like it might be a dogfight. Hartland, which was the Division 2 state runner-up to Livonia Churchill last year, scored first in the game when Josh Ruthig got loose on a breakaway and beat Trenton goalie Nick Ramirez just 4:11 into the game.

​The goal fired up the noisy Hartland student section, but it also seemed to fire up the Trojans, who put up sustained pressure several times during the first period. Dunn tied the game at the 9:29 mark, when he picked up a loose puck in front of the Hartland net, patiently made a move and buried it.

​Shots were 13-13 in the first period, but Trenton had far better scoring opportunities and peppered the glass behind the Hartland cage with shots that missed the mark.

​After the first intermission, Trenton came out flying and the constant pressure led to two quick goals.

​Quinn Preston found a loose puck and deposited it in the Hartland goal at 1:36 and just over a minute later a determined Dunn whacked one in from a pile up in from of the Hartland net.

​The Eagles kept Trenton off the scoreboard for most of the rest of the period, but Trenton dominated, outshooting Hartland 24-7 in the period. Just before the buzzer, Trenton stuck the dagger.

​With five seconds to play, Hartland iced the puck. Trenton won the ensuing faceoff and got the puck to Mitch Galea, who slipped but shot the puck toward the goal from his knees. The shot reached the goal and Johnny-on-the-spot Dunn was there to knock it home. The goal came with one-tenth of a second left to play. The goal made the score 4-1 and sent the Eagles off the ice with their heads hanging.

​A year ago Hartland trailed Stevenson and a third-period rally made that a one-goal game. Earlier this season, Trenton beat Hartland at the MIHL Showcase, but that time the Eagles rallied back to make that a close game, so heading into the third period Saturday, Trenton had no illusions about the game being over.

​Trenton kept its foot on the gas, scoring the first two goals of the third period to build a 6-2 lead and outscoring Hartland 4-2 in the frame.

​Galea scored back-to-back power-play goal, one on a patient little move in front of the net and the other on an easy wide-open slam dunk on a pass from behind the net. The goals came 12 second apart.

​Hartland scored shortly afterward, but midway through the period Phil Pugliese, who tormented the Eagles all morning long with his non-stop forechecking and dogged penalty killing, scored while the teams were playing four-on-four.

​A minute later Galea snapped home his third goal of the game and the Trojan Pit of Trenton students began celebrating.

​Hartland managed to get a fluttering shot past Garrett Carroll, who came in to clean up for Ramirez, but it was way too little, way too late and then the final buzzer sounded Trenton enjoyed a familiar on-ice celebration among the strewn sticks, helmets and gloves.

​“I can’t describe how it feels,” said senior captain Andrew Sawyer. “I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. My parents have been going to Trenton games for 15 years. I’ve gone to all those game and looked up to all those guys and now to be one of those players is amazing.”

​At one point early in the season Trenton was just 3-3. Asked when he realized that this team might be one of championship caliber, Turner offered a rare smile and nodded toward goalie Ramirez.

​“When this guy started playing like a senior,” he said. “Nick’s play allowed us to stay in games while we were growing and developing in front of him.”

​Asked to rate his 11 state titles, Turner said none rank ahead of the others.

​“They’re all special,” he said. “People say you’ve won 11 times, isn’t it old hat. No, it’s not old hat. It’s a new team every year. This is the first time for these guys.”

​Ramirez agreed with that.

​“This is my best moment in hockey,” he said. “It will always be my best moment, no matter what happens in the future. There’s just nothing better than celebrating with you teammates.”

Last Updated: 3/11/2014 3:49:15 AM EST

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