Birmingham,Bloomfield HillsMarch 06, 2012
Brother Rice hockey rolls to Division 2 semifinal, two wins from avenging last year's loss in finals
By Mike Moore
C & G Staff Writer
Rice's Thomas Ebbing (10) scored three goals in a March 6 quarterfinal against Lakeland. The Warriors cruised to a 9-1 win and will face Forest Hills Eastern in the semifinals.
NOVI — Lou Schmidt Jr. believes his team can play better.
If that’s the case, the remaining teams in the Division 2 hockey playoffs need to be on notice.
Schmidt and his Birmingham Brother Rice hockey team scored four first-period goals March 6 in quarterfinal action against White Lake Lakeland at the Novi Ice Arena and cruised to a 9-1 victory in a game called by mercy early in the third period.
“Truthfully, we didn’t play our best game, and I know that doesn’t sound right when we win by eight goals, but it really took our guys some time to get going,” Schmidt said following the win that sends Rice back to Compuware for the second straight season. “Once we got that first goal, our guys kind of woke up. ... As the night wore on, I think we really came into our own.”
TJ Petzold got Rice going 2:07 into the game, and the Warriors soon unleashed a barrage of shots, and three more goals, in the next eight minutes.
Thomas Ebbing and Russell Cicerone each scored once before Petzold notched his second of the frame and Rice took a 4-0 lead into the intermission.
Lakeland made it 4-1 early in the second, but Cicerone and Ross Haffey made it 6-1 after two periods, and then consecutive goals by Ebbing, Cicerone and Ebbing once more ended the game by mercy with 10:58 remaining in the third.
“We didn’t know much about (Lakeland) coming in, other than they had won a regional title and were playing good hockey of late,” Schmidt said of the Eagles, who finished the year 9-17-2. “Once we got going, I really liked the way we played. This is a good win for us.”
Asked if he was worried about his guys looking past Lakeland at all, given their sub.-500 record, Schmidt couldn't answer quick enough.
"Not at all," he said. "When we won a state title in 2005, we were 11-13 heading into the playoffs. Anybody can get hot this time of year and go on a long run. We respected Lakeland as much as any team we've played this year."
Rice, now 23-4-1, faces Forest Hills Eastern (22-6-0) in the D-2 semifinals at 5 p.m. March 8.
In the other half of the bracket, Grosse Pointe South, now unbeaten in 19 straight games, rolled past Hartland High 11-6 and faces Port Huron Northern at 5 p.m.
The final in D-2, a game where Rice lost a year ago, is scheduled for 10 a.m. March 10.