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December 5, 2012

After a three-year lull, Flyers feel like OAA title is overdue

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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After a three-year lull, Flyers feel like OAA title is overdue
Farmington Hills Unified goalie Hunter Myers turns away a shot during a game earlier this season. The Flyers were off to a good start. The OAA Red crown is the team’s main target.

In their own words, “it’s been too long.”

Way too long.

The Farmington Hills Unified hockey team is now three full seasons removed from celebrating a division title.

There have been close calls in that span, and other final standings that left the Flyers in the proverbial rearview mirror.

But with the 2012-13 season now in flight, and some recent success to fall back on, the prevailing theme within the Farmington Hills Ice Arena, or at least in the Flyers’ locker room, is this is a team ready to make some noise.

“There’s an atmosphere about this team that’s just different than we’ve had,” senior forward Eric Stanis said following a Nov. 27 practice. “I think the last two years, there were too many games that we should have won but found a way to lose. I see this team and this year as different. I feel like those are the types of games we’ll win this year.”

“Things are going real well so far,” coach Ken Anderson said. “The bench is a bit short right now while we get healthy, but the guys we have going are seeing good ice time and playing with a lot of energy. … I wouldn’t say we’re a great team right now, but the guys have bought into that team mentality, and they’ve set their sights on a division title.”

The Flyers were 15-8-2 last year and ended the winter with a regional semifinal loss to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.

At press time, the guys were 3-1-0 after starting the year with a 5-2 loss to Livonia Stevenson, but rebounding with wins against South Lyon High (2-1), Farmington High (3-0) and Northville High (2-1).

“The talent and the leadership are definitely here to do it,” Reede Burnett said of an Oakland Activities Association Red Division title.

Burnett will be key, as the team’s lone senior defenseman.

Anderson said he expects to score goals once the offense finds its rhythm, but keeping traffic away from the net and limiting opponent opportunities will be a huge factor in turning some of last year’s losses into wins.

One made tougher with a younger defense still figuring itself out.

“That’s where the leadership comes in,” Burnett said. “Us older guys take a lot of pride in setting the example for the younger guys. They see what we do and how we go about our business, and they’ve been great in imitating that so far.”

One thing is for sure: the level of competition isn’t going to be easy.

“The whole division looks strong, especially some of the Rochester schools,” Anderson said. “I think we’re good enough to be in the mix, so raising our level of play every time out is the focus. It’s a long mountain to climb, but these guys are capable.”

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