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Grosse Pointe Woods

March 13, 2014

Liggett girls hockey wins first D-1 state title in thrilling fashion

By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
The Liggett team skates around the rink holding the Metro League state championship trophy following a thrilling, come-from-behind, 4-3 overtime victory over Cranbrook-Kingswood March 8 at McCann Ice Arena.

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Sometimes, a lucky bounce can go a long way.

That certainly proved to be the case Saturday night for University Liggett, as the Knights took advantage of a couple of fortunate bounces to come back from a 3-1 deficit and defeat Cranbrook 4-3 in overtime to win the Michigan Metro Girls Division 1 state championship March 8 on their home rink at McCann Arena.

Cranbrook controlled play for the game’s first 35 minutes and held a 3-1 lead. In the regular season, the Cranes had defeated Liggett by scores of 3-0 and 4-1, and it appeared the final was going to be no different.

Then with 9:57 left in the game, senior forward Danielle Lorant started the Knights’ comeback by scoring on a redirection that was seemingly an attempt to begin throwing the puck towards the Cranbrook net. Senior Hannah Hodges assisted on the play.

Ania Dow tied the game with 3:14 to go, as a Cranbrook defender got tangled with another Liggett forward to give Dow a breakaway opportunity, and the senior buried it in the back of the net.

In the overtime session, Jenalyn Pangborn corralled a loose puck in the Cranbrook zone in between the faceoff circles and got a shot through to the net to seal the win and cap off a miraculous comeback for Liggett.

“It was stuck in between our player’s feet. It was in front of the net, and I just saw it and I just went for it, but it was really the team that got us there,” Pangborn said of her game-winning goal.

The overtime win by Liggett was indicative of the Knights’ playoff run, as they opened the postseason with a double-overtime victory against Ladywood before narrowly holding on to beat Ann Arbor Pioneer 2-1 in the semifinal. Liggett coach Cassie Jaeckle said experience in close games helped inspire her team to rally.

“What I said in the locker room was that if anybody could do this, it’s going to be us, because we’ve already proven that this year that we can come back and win games,” Jaeckle said. “Whether it’s tying them up or going into overtime and winning, we’ve done that quite a few times in this playoff stretch. I told them that you’ve done it before and you have to believe in it now.”

Heading into the third period, Cranbrook had outshot Liggett 19-4 and was seemingly carrying all of the momentum in the game. Lorant’s goal that bounced off the foot of a Cranbrook defender quickly turned the tide of the game.

“That’s hockey. You get some bad bounces, and you never want to get into a one-goal game with a team like this,” Cranbrook coach Terry Brooks said. “You’ll have them pinned in their zone for five minutes, and then one bad bounce and they’ll come down and score, and that’s what happened.”

Cranbrook got goals from Lucy Dembeck, Hana DeClerck and Frankie White-Levin. Dembeck also had two assists, while DeClerck and White-Levin each had one.

The state title is the first for Liggett at the Division 1 level of the Metro League. It won a title in 2009 at the Division 2 level, and this is the first state championship for Jaeckle.

“It’s awesome. When I was brought in here, the goal was to get them to be competitive, to be a contender, and obviously, win states,” Jaeckle said. “I’ve done that in three years, and I hope that we’re going to be on the map from this point on.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Thomas Franz at tfranz@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1040.