St. Clair Shores
Lakers hockey hopes stacked slate prepares team for playoffs
February 5, 2014
ST. CLAIR SHORES — The St. Clair Shores Unified hockey team knows it will meet the University of Detroit Jesuit in a preregional game when the 2014 state playoffs begin Feb. 24.
UD Jesuit is ranked eighth in the state by US High School Hockey website www.ushsho.com. It won’t be the first ranked team the Lakers face, though, as coach Russ DiCristofaro set up a tough regular-season slate for his team to help get it prepared for the postseason.
“You do that with the hope that your team will get better over the course of playing all of those tough teams,” said DiCristofaro, whose team sat at 8-10-0, 1-3-0 Macomb Area Conference Red Division at press time. “We hit a rough patch in playing a schedule like that, though, but even with that, you still take some good things out of each game.”
That rough patch included a six-game skid that saw St. Clair Shores face five teams ranked in the top 50 in the state. Two of those setbacks (to Macomb Dakota and Northville) came against squads ranked in the top 25.
The Lakers have gone 2-2 since that rough stretch and had eight games remaining at press time.
“We’re looking to keep improving while we get ready for the regionals,” DiCristofaro said. “We know we’re going to meet up with a tough team, so we just have to keep fighting.”
The Lakers have made strides this season. The team has already doubled last year’s win total and has scored more goals (70) than it did in all of the 2012-13 season (48).
DiCristofaro said senior captain Mitchell Kusch and sophomore Conner Victory have stepped up to lead the team. DiCristofaro called Kusch the heart and soul of the squad. He said Victory has been great, adding the sophomore has shown a lot of leadership qualities, which led to him being named a captain.
“We’ve got some nice players,” DiCristofaro said. “We just have to try and put some things together the rest of the way.”
The Lakers next skate against Utica Eisenhower at 7:50 p.m. Feb. 5 at the St. Clair Shores Civic Center.