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Berkley, Ferndale

November 28, 2012

After record-setting season, Berkley-Ferndale hockey aims for more

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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After record-setting season, Berkley-Ferndale hockey aims for more
Berkley’s Gianni Bonello slams home a goal during the season opener. The Bears are coming off a 22-win season.

Optimism is sky high, which Jeff Fleming fully understands.

Expectations may be in the same stratosphere, which Fleming can’t help but caution against.

“What happened last year can’t affect this team and this season,” Fleming said Nov. 14, before Berkley-Ferndale Unified’s first game of the winter. “You can’t be a 22-win team every single year. It’s a new season with new guys.”

But.

“But that doesn’t change some of the goals we have,” Fleming added. “This is still a good hockey team that aims to win a league title, win some of our tournaments and make some noise, come playoff time.”

Duplicating last year will be tough for any Berkley team, now or in the future.

The 2011-12 Bears rolled to a 22-3-2 mark, setting a program record for wins in a single season.

They also cruised to an Oakland Activities Association White crown for the first time since 2006, before ending the year in a regional final loss to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.

A good portion of that team returns, including All-State goalie Stephen Wroe and leading scorer Joey Leider.

There were, however, seven seniors who moved on, and six guys brand new to the team.

“We’ve got some younger guys that are going to have to shoulder the load a little more,” Ferndale senior Keith Waldrup said.

“You look at the leadership roles, and it’s not just one or two guys,” Leider, a Berkley senior said. “That’s kind of the approach we’ve taken. The leadership has to come from everyone.”

Fleming credited his guys with their commitment in the offseason, saying the returning players, as well as the team rookies, hit the ground running with workouts and other team gatherings.

“If nothing else, we’ll be the best-conditioned team out there,” Leider said with a laugh.

The results were somewhat immediate, at least on this night.

Berkley controlled the flow of the season opener, jumping out on Pinckney High for three goals in the first period en route to an 8-1 victory.

The rookies held their own — freshman Ian Melrose scored twice — while the stars — Leider scored once and Wroe finished with 16 saves — did their jobs, as well.

“Not a bad way to start for our guys,” Fleming said after the win. “We got great goaltending, and for a first game, the kids really played well together.”

It was just the first of a long and grueling season that gears toward a long run, come March.

And, unlike last year, the 2012-13 Bears understand they will be the team others target, the marked men, so to speak, because of last season’s success.

“That’s fine by us,” Waldrup said. “It’s an honor to be the team to beat. I think we all look forward to that challenge.”

“Time will tell just how good this team can be,” Fleming said, noting the degree of difficulty in the schedule has increased this winter. “We may not be a 22-win team again, but these guys have some pretty high expectations, as a team and for themselves. We’ll see what happens.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.