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Grosse Pointe Woods

McIntyre confident in guys and playoff chances as things come together

Published January 23, 2013

» click to enlarge «
Junior Jacob Jerome moves the puck against St. Mary’s during a game earlier this season. Despite a less-flashy record than last winter, coach Robb McIntyre still sees his squad as a threat in the D-3 playoffs.

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — There have been five or six times, as he described it, when Robb McIntyre has seen exactly what he’s been waiting to see with his Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett hockey team.

Five or six times where he knew things had finally come together.

“And immediately after, there’s been five or six times where we took a step back,” he said with a laugh. “That’s just how it’s been this year.”

Last winter, the Knights were nearly unbeatable.

They had an offense that could score in bunches, a defense that was as physical as it was steady and goaltending on call whenever needed.

The formula led to a 27-3-0 record and Division 3 state championship.

A year later, Liggett was 10-7-0 at press time, but starting to find its groove with back-to-back wins against Warren De La Salle and Grosse Pointe North this past weekend.

“Last year, everything was just sweet,” McIntyre said. “Every break, every bounce, went our way. That’s not the case this year, which is fine. It’s a different team and a different year. … The one thing we’re focused on now is finding that consistency. Once we put everything together, we’re going to be all right.”

He spoke with a sense of ease, which was exactly the case a year ago.

When Liggett was steamrolling opponent after opponent, ending games early by mercy and setting itself up as the prohibitive favorite in D-3, McIntyre would offer a quick shrug of the shoulders and smile, saying his guys were just trying to have fun.

Nothing’s changed.

“I’m not worried. Really, I’m not,” he said simply. “We’re not sneaking up on anyone this year, and we’re playing a tougher schedule, especially now. Last year, we were able to get away with some things and still win. That’s not the case this time around.”

Liggett did return 11 guys from last year’s title team, but there’s still plenty of youth on the roster.

There are just three seniors, and while the forwards feature a number of returning guys, the defense is comprised mainly of freshmen and sophomores.

“You couple that with the fact that we haven’t been at 100 percent very much, and I think it’s easy to understand the inconsistency,” McIntyre said. “The thing is, everything we’re trying to figure out right now is fixable. I know this can be a very good team, and with time, I think we’ll get there.”

With the playoffs a month away, McIntyre believes there’s still plenty of time to get everyone on the same page.

His guys also have a very favorable regional draw.

The Knights and Madison Heights Bishop Foley are the only two teams in the D-3 pre-regional at McCann Ice Arena, so one win sets up a regional-final meeting with Farmington High, Royal Oak Shrine or Beverly Hills Country Day in Farmington.

Whatever team emerges will likely see D-3’s top-ranked team, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood, in the quarterfinals.

“There’s a lot to look forward to right now,” McIntyre added. He said he has no doubt his guys can contend for a second title in as many years. “We’re improving every day, which is all you can ask for. Come the end of the regular season, I think we’ll be better for it. I think we’ll be ready to go.”

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