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Grosse Pointe Woods, Bloomfield Hills

March 1, 2014

Cranbrook and Liggett collide in regional final

Cranes escape with 3-0 victory to keep title defense alive

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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Cranbrook and Liggett collide in regional final
Cranbrook's Austin Alger scored twice in Saturday's regional final as the Cranes beat Liggett 3-0 to keep their title hopes alive.

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — It was a regional final many had anticipated, even expected, when the season began.

And on Saturday afternoon, when the past two Division 3 hockey state champs met, well, the wait was worth it.

Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood kept its title-defense hopes alive, getting past Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett 3-0 in a game that featured plenty of speed, skill and desperation, and was much closer than the three-goal difference suggests.

“This was a great high school hockey game,” Cranbrook coach Andy Weidenbach said after the win. “Liggett did some things to really mix it up and keep us off balance.”

“I’m really proud with the way we played,” Knights coach Mike Hamilton said. “It’s one of those games, other than you lost and you have tears and you feel bad, where you should walk out with heads up high, because I thought we just played right with probably one of the best teams in the state. It was a great effort all the way around. We had a little different game plan today compared to all season, and we stuck to it, and we gave ourselves an opportunity to win.”

Meeting for the second playoff in a row — Cranbrook eliminated Liggett 7-2 in last year’s quarterfinal en route to the D-3 title after Liggett won it all in 2012— the teams played to a scoreless first period.

But the second started with a bang when Chris Brown found the back of the net just 35 seconds into the frame to give the Cranes a 1-0 lead.

It was all they would need.

Austin Alger made it 2-0 with 9:54 remaining in the third on a perfect pass from Sam Miletic, and then added an empty- net goal with 26.1 seconds remaining to officially put things out of reach.

“The second goal was key, because it gave us a little cushion,” Weidenbach said. “But the first goal was big, too. It gives you that confidence boost you need in a game like this.”

Brown’s goal was more than enough for Cranrbook goalie Spencer Applebaum, who finished the game with 25 saves.

Cranbrook (26-1-0) advances to the Farmington quarterfinal and will face either Dearborn Divine Child or Farmington High at 7:15 p.m. March 5 at the Farmington Hills Ice Arena.

“Whoever we face, we know it’s going to be a good team,” Weidenbach said of the quarterfinal. “Both teams are on a nice roll right now. So we’re in for another tough one. We know that.”

Liggett ends the year 17-6-2.

“At the end of it, you just tip your hat and say the better skilled team probably won today,” Hamilton added. “But again, at the end of it, we had our chances. We were right there.”

In other regional final action

Novi Detroit Catholic Central 5 - Orchard Lake St. Mary's 2

University of Detroit Jesuit 7 - Troy High 0

Berkley High 4 - Rochester Hills Stoney Creek 2

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