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March 3, 2014

Berkley hockey claims first regional title in program history

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Berkley’s Ranen Fisk protects the puck against a Marysville defender earlier this season. The Bears claimed the program its first-ever regional title by beating Stoney Creek 4-2.

They’d done it all.

Regular-season success, defined by 20 or more wins at a time.

League titles to brag about, some in successive years.

It was all great, but it was also a steppingstone to something else.

On March 1, that something else was realized, as the Berkley Unified hockey team did what it had never done before.

“And it’s pretty big for us, pretty big for this program and this hockey team,” coach Jeff Fleming said about last weekend’s 4-2 victory against Rochester Hills Stoney Creek, a win that earned the Bears their first-ever regional title. “For our seniors, for our young kids, for everyone to see what we can do to be this successful, it’s something pretty special.”

Fleming said Stoney came out and owned the game early.

“They were all over us,” he said. “They were in control.”

But then the Bears came to life.

“We were able to bang two quick goals in,” Fleming said about the end of the first period and a 2-0 lead. “To get two big goals that close together at the end of the period, I felt at that point, going into the locker room on that note, we really turned things around.”

Stoney scored early in the second to make the game 2-1.

Berkley regrouped, though, and scored with 5:51 remaining in the middle frame to go up 3-1.

Stoney pulled within 3-2 later in the period, but Berkley answered again in the middle of the third to cap the scoring at 4-2.

“We’ve won a lot the past few years, but had some tough times in the postseason,” Fleming said with a laugh. “I think building on the culture here, pushing the goals beyond just winning league titles, it shows you where we are as a program. Our goal now is to win a quarterfinal.”

Berkley, 20-6-2 after the regional win, faced Hartland High in a Division 2 quarterfinal game March 4 after press time.

The quarterfinal winner advances to a D-2 semifinal, set for 5 p.m. March 6 at Compuware Arena.

The D-2 final is set for 10 a.m. March 8.

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