Orchard Lake St. Mary’s junior Troy Clark battles for the puck during a win against Birmingham Brother Rice earlier this season. At press time, the Eaglets had won seven games in a row.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s junior Troy Clark battles for the puck during a win against Birmingham Brother Rice earlier this season. At press time, the Eaglets had won seven games in a row.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Eaglets haven’t played in final weekend on ice since 2012

By: Mike Moore | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published January 12, 2018

ORCHARD LAKE — It was a Friday in early March when the Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and Brighton High hockey teams were engaged in a back-and-forth battle with a trip to the Division 1 state championship on the line.

Regulation wasn’t enough for the two state powers, nor was the first overtime.

But in the second, Brighton found the back of the net for a 2-1 victory, and the next day defeated Grosse Pointe North 4-3 for a state championship.

The Eaglets were left two wins shy of the ultimate trophy and exited the playoffs with ambitions of getting back as soon as possible.

That was 2012. St. Mary’s hasn’t returned to the semifinals since.

“It’s been too long,” Eaglets coach Brian Klanow said bluntly last week. “It’s time to get back there. There’s no doubt about it.”

Being part of the season’s final weekend was almost a ritual for the Eaglets, who from 2005 through 2012 were there six times, won three state championships (2005, 2007, 2008) and lost in the 2011 final.

“To go this long without getting back has been hard,” Klanow said.

The hope now, obviously, is that 2018 will be the year that drought comes to an end.

Although, after the first four games of the season, thinking that way may have been a little tough for the guys in red and white.

“I don’t know at the start of the year if the guys were fully committed to what we had to do,” Klanow said of his squad, which went 1-3-0 to start. “That’s changed, and you can see. The guys have gotten on board. They’ve committed themselves to playing the right kind of hockey.”

And the results have backed that statement up.

Since dropping three of four, St. Mary’s hadn’t lost at press time. The most recent game was a 3-2 victory over Hancock High, the seventh win in a row for the Eaglets.

It hasn’t been a slouch of a schedule, either, as St. Mary’s has picked up wins over Birmingham Brother Rice (5-2), Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood (4-2), Livonia Stevenson (3-2) and Calumet High (5-1), to name a few.

Heading into their Jan. 13 game against Flint Powers Catholic, the Eaglets were the No. 2 ranked team in Division 1 in the latest coaches poll.

“We have 12 seniors, all varsity veterans,” Klanow said when asked to explain the success. “We’re also very skilled with a lot of speed.”

Was he surprised a little with the 1-3 start? Sure.

Has he been with the results since? Well, not really.

“I really felt like it was a matter of time,” Klanow said. “We knew what we had with this group. We just had to get everyone on the same page.”

With roughly 12 games remaining in the regular season, there’s still plenty of work and growing for Klanow’s crew to take part in.

They will need all the time they can get, xtoo, with a likely meeting with Brighton High (No. 3) coming up in the D-1 regional final.

“Anything is possible with this group,” Klanow said. “Ever since losing to Hartland in overtime in last year’s (regional final), they’ve wanted to get back.”

And beyond.