Brooks, Cranbrook girls hockey team set sites on league championship

By: Mike Moore | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published January 29, 2013

 Photo by Patricia O’Blenes
Cranbrook junior Israel Leah has scored six goals this year, adding to a dynamic offense.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes Cranbrook junior Israel Leah has scored six goals this year, adding to a dynamic offense.

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — There were some nerves at the beginning.

Now, there’s nothing but confidence.

When the 2012-13 girls hockey season dropped the puck a few months ago, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood girls hockey coach admitted his uneasiness heading into the winter.

He wasn’t sure exactly what kind of team he’d have.

He couldn’t predict how his veterans would mix with the new names on the roster.

Some 10 games into the year, all anxieties have evaporated.

“Now, we’re concentrating on nothing short of a state championship,” Brooks said last week. “I have no reservation on that. This team is good enough to do it.”

C-K’s play, so far, has backed its coach’s words.

At press time, the girls were 9-1-0, and just a few days removed from a 6-2 victory against Grosse Pointe South — the two-time defending state champ and a team that was unbeaten entering the game.

“We have a very well-balanced team and attack right now,” Brooks said, explaining his squad’s success. “We’re running three lines, which most teams can’t do. I think we create a lot of match-up problems, and that’s really helped us.”

Especially on the offensive side of the ice.

In their 10 games played, the Cranes have scored 54 goals, which is tops in Division 1 of the Michigan Metro Girls Hockey High School Hockey League.

Only Division 2’s Walled Lake Unified has more, with 62 goals.

“We’ve done a good job keeping the puck out of our zone and away from our net,” Brooks said. “That’s led to a lot of shots and a lot of scoring chances.”

Sophomore Keiko DeClerck leads the team with 13 goals and six assists. Younger sister Hana DeClerk has 13 points on the year (5 goals, 8 assists), while freshman Sydney Pollack and junior Israel Leah have also paced the scoring, with seven and six goals, respectively.

“When you can score like we do, it gives you the chance to win every game,” Brooks said, noting the team’s most recent victory, a 6-3 decision against Ann Arbor Pioneer in which Cranbrook trailed 3-0 in the second period.

The lone loss was a 3-1 setback to Grosse Pointe North, a game played after the team was off the ice for more than two weeks, due to the holiday break.

But that loss, and win against South, has created a logjam atop the standings.

South, with one more game played, leads D-1 with a 10-1-0 record and 20 points.

Cranbrook’s 18 points is two better than North, which was 8-1-0 at press time.

But standings are hardly where Brooks puts any of his concern right now.

The league playoffs begin in roughly a month, and Brooks has set a single goal for his team, which last won a title in 2010.

“With the one-game knock out, all you can do is be ready,” he said. “That is absolutely the main goal right now.”

Would he like to see South, and have the chance to dethrone the champs?

“I mean, yeah, that’s what you want,” he added. “That’s a well-coached team that is very talented. I take no comfort in the fact we beat them, but we’d like to see them again. Sure. That’s what playoff hockey is all about.”