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March 13, 2012

Magical season for Ike ends one win shy of trip to Compuware

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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Magical season for Ike ends one win shy of trip to Compuware
Ike’s Jake Schmidt (13) battles for the puck with a St. Mary’s forward during the Division 1 quarterfinal in St. Clair Shores. The Eagles lost the game 4-1, ending one of the best seasons in program history.

ST. CLAIR SHORES — Their destination had been halted one game shy.

And instantly, the new one took shape.

Each guy headed in that direction, a straight line to the hundreds of family, friends and fans packed into the far corner of the St. Clair Shores Civic Ice Arena.

And with the raising and lowering of their sticks, the Utica Eisenhower hockey team offered a quick salute to all who had enjoyed this ride with them.

The fans roared back in appreciation for a season that truly was magical.

“One of the best this program has ever known,” coach Bob Hall said. “It’s disappointing to lose and have it all end, but when you reflect back on the fact that only one team can go undefeated in the playoffs, you have to appreciate what’s been done.”

Ike officially closed out the 2012 postseason March 7 in a 4-1 Division 1 quarterfinal loss to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.

Following the game, Hall tipped his hat to a team that simply played better than his.

The Eaglets outshot Ike 17-6 in a very decisive second period, transforming a game that was 1-1 into a 4-1 hole.

“Our boys had a great year,” Hall said moments after the loss. “We won so many big games. It was a terrific season.”

Ike ended the year 21-5-2, rolled to the quarterfinals without allowing a single goal in the regional rounds and lost just five total games by a combined eight goals.

“Our goaltending was solid all year; our defense was great; and when we had to find a way to score, the offense was excellent, too,” Hall said.

To his point, Ike scored 115 goals in the regular season, second only to Macomb Dakota (127) in the entire Macomb Area Conference.

The Eagles’ 42 goals allowed was a MAC best, and their seven shutouts was also tops in the conference.

Yet, asked when he knew he had a team capable of something special, Hall just laughed.

“First week of practice,” he answered bluntly. “The way these guys worked, the focus they came to the rink with and the attitude they had, I knew this was going to be a great team.”

And one that, hopefully, fuels the future.

Ike will graduate 12 seniors from the current roster, but could bring back as many as 11 players with varsity experience.

“You have to always set the standards high,” Hall added. “We feel like with what we did here this year, where we’ve taken this program, there are some big expectations for the future.”

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