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Berkley

March 6, 2013

Loss in pre-regional doesn’t alter success Berkley enjoyed — again

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Berkley’s Robby Flannery battles for the puck with a Grosse Pointe North defender during the pre-regional. The Bears ended the season with 19 wins.

DETROIT — He sat in his office roughly three months ago as his guys prepped for the season opener.

Full of optimism and excitement for the year ahead, Jeff Fleming also spoke with a bit of caution.

The Berkley-Ferndale Unified hockey coach was one year removed from a 22-win season and had brought back a decent number of pieces from that team.

Still, the roster turnover and uncertainty with some of the newest additions were questions only time would answer.

The first came that night, in a resounding, seven-goal victory.

The rest would come over the next three months, yielding yet another brilliant display of hockey for the Bears.

“They played so well together. They had great chemistry and really played consistent hockey all season long,” Fleming said Feb. 26 after the season came to an official close with a 19-7-0 record. “I didn’t think we’d have a team that could win 19 games, but this was a group that worked so hard to compete. And in the end, we came out with wins more often than we didn’t.”

The end wasn’t pretty, as Fleming said with a laugh.

In the Division 1 playoff opener, the Bears were matched up with a Grosse Pointe North squad that reached the finals a year ago and were fresh off winning the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League’s South Division title.

“North is a very tough team, and in the end, we just didn’t have the legs to stay with them,” Fleming said after the 9-1 loss at City Sports Center in Detroit. “We’re just not deep enough to contend with a team like that.”

One game would hardly define a season, nor take away from a program that seems to be on the rise.

“We’re progressing, and that’s what you want,” Fleming said. “We’ve gained a lot more interest within the school. We may have a JV team next year. We’ve got young kids at games who you want to see playing for you one day. That’s the culture we’re working on and building.”

As for this team, and this year, Fleming said he always knew it could be good; he just didn’t know how good.

“When they started coming together and we picked up a few kids to add to the mix, I knew with who we had coming back we’d be all right,” he added. “I didn’t think we’d be as good as we were, but I knew the possibility was there. The guys stuck with it all summer, then progressed into the season with a great attitude.”

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