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Rochester Hills

After rough regular season, Smith and Cougars rolled to quarterfinals

March 14, 2012

» click to enlarge «
Stoney Creek’s Brian Gill (17) cuts across the zone during a quarterfinal loss to Port Huron Northern. The Cougars earned their first regional title since 2010 with a 5-3 victory against Romeo High March 3.

If Ian Smith gets his way, what transpired in late February and early March is going to have a huge effect on June, July, August, and especially, next November

Whether or not momentum can carry that long, he says, is up to his guys and what they want to do.

But the first-year Rochester Hills Stoney Creek hockey coach saw exactly what his team was capable when playing its best.

So did anyone else enjoying the Cougars’ ride to the Division 2 quarterfinals.

“It was great to be part of this,” Smith said a day after his team lost to Port Huron Northern 6-1 in a March 6 quarterfinal. “We had a bunch of seniors who had never done something like this. It was great for the program and for the team to experience this whole journey.”

Stoney earned its first regional title since 2010 with a 5-3 victory against Romeo High March 3. That win followed a 7-2 contest against Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse, and a 3-2 win against Utica High in the playoff opener.

Against Northern, Smith just said his guys were somewhat overwhelmed.

“I don’t think we’ve played a team that aggressive or that pressured as much as they did in a few weeks,” he said with a laugh. “I think we were a little shell-shocked at first. Once we settled down, I felt like we started taking it to them, though.”

Stoney trailed 2-1 early in the second period after a short-handed goal, but a Port Huron Northern power-play tally made the deficit two again. The Cougars trailed 4-1 in the third before two late goals put the game out of reach.

“It was a lot closer than the final score,” Smith added. “But all the credit goes to Northern. They are a very skilled team that just kept coming at us in waves. They were very good.”

Stoney ended the season 13-15-0.

“Really, there was a two-week stretch where we lost five league games in a row. But other than that, we played pretty well,” Smith said. “It was a good learning year for a lot of us, including myself. … Now the hope is that this playoff success carries momentum into the offseason, and into workouts and into how these guys approach next year. We’ve got some good kids coming back, and if we do things right, we’re going to be even stronger here in the future.”

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