Cranbrook hockey set to host St. Mary’s for final time this winter

By: Mike Moore | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published January 15, 2013

 Taylor Bommarito and the St. Mary’s hockey team dropped a Dec. 8 contest 2-0 to Cranbrook. The teams meet again Jan. 18 at Wallace Ice Arena.

Taylor Bommarito and the St. Mary’s hockey team dropped a Dec. 8 contest 2-0 to Cranbrook. The teams meet again Jan. 18 at Wallace Ice Arena.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

One team is built on youth and an abundance of budding talent.

The other, in a similar spot a year ago, has been showing just how dangerous it can be since the first puck dropped on a new season.

On Jan. 18, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood’s hockey teams will meet for the second time this winter, once again pitting potential against a proven commodity in a Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League showdown.

“You’re not in this business for wins and losses in January, but instead trying to build yourself up to be at your best, come playoff time,” St. Mary’s coach Brian Klanow said of his team, which has just four seniors on its roster.

“But we’re not in these games to lose, either,” he added with a laugh.

The up-and-coming team from Orchard Lake faces a Cranes squad considered by some as the best in the state right now.

“They’ve got a lot of speed, a lot of depth. They play with discipline,” Klanow said of Cranbrook. “They have the weapons on offense, defense and special teams. It’s a just a very tough team.”

The teams met once earlier this season, a 2-0 Cranbrook win Dec. 8.

Cranes coach Andy Weidenbach, who had his team at 10-1-1 at press time, knows nothing will come easy in facing St. Mary’s the second time around.

“That’s a team that is only going to get better, and very fast,” said Weidenbach, whose team will host the Jan. 18 game at 7:15 p.m. at Wallace Ice Arena. “They have a steep learning curve, and Brain’s a good coach, so they are going to be a great challenge for us. … Last time, we played with a lot of energy, generated some good chances and a lot of traffic. That plan worked really well.”

“We’re very young this year, and that’s the truth we’re dealing with,” said Klanow, whose team was 7-4-1 at press time.

“We know it’s going to take some time, and I don’t think anyone anticipated us being at our best just yet, which we’re not. We’re still gaining experience and trying to execute the way we feel like we can, and playing games like this and team’s like Cranbrook are only going to help.”

Klanow added that youth and inexperience won’t justify settling for losses.

“We want to win this one,” he said. “They dominated the first period (of the first meeting). We were able to come back and change the flow a little bit, but in the end, they outplayed us. We’re looking forward to seeing them again and seeing what we can do a second time.”

Cranbrook was 5-0-1 in North Division play, while St. Mary’s was 2-4-1.

“It’s a league game and a division game, so yeah, this is a big one,” Weidenbach stressed. “It’s always a good game against them, and we don’t expect anything different this time. … We’ve been successful this year, using our speed and establishing our forecheck. We’ve been able to take turnovers and turn them into offensive chances. We’ll need more of the same to be successful in this one.”

Weidenbach, like Klanow, said games like this serve as perfect playoff prep, especially with the postseason roughly six weeks away.

“I think everyone is trying to peak for the playoffs right now,” he added. “There’s so many adjustments, and as things get closer to the end, you’re seeing teams paying better and better hockey. For that reason, this is a game to look forward to.”