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Grosse Pointe Woods

Published March 13, 2013

No shame in quarterfinal loss

Liggett hockey closes season, falls to top team in Division 3 quarterfinal

» click to enlarge «
Liggett’s Alexander Minanov goes after the puck in front of a Cranbrook player during a D-3 quarterfinal. The Knights’ title defense fell three wins short.

FARMINGTON HILLS — Perfection was almost a requirement for advancement, even as the defending champs.

On March 6, the Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett hockey team faced its biggest challenge in nearly two years in the state quarterfinals, taking on a No. 1-ranked Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood team that most penciled in to claim the Division 3 title when the playoffs began in late February.

As he spoke moments after a 7-2 loss that was much closer than the final score suggests, Liggett coach Robb McIntyre said there was little his guys had to be ashamed of.

“Cranbrook just keeps coming at you,” he said. “They are so well coached and so skilled. It’s a great team.”

Yet here was Liggett, the defending D-3 champs, equipped with a roster loaded by youth, hanging right with the Cranes.

Even after allowing the first goal, the Knights kept coming and, less than a minute after Cranbrook took a 1-0 lead, tied the game on a play by James Counsman.

The back-and-forth period appeared to be even heading into the dressing rooms, but then the Cranes scored with 55 seconds remaining, and the game seemed to shift.

In total, Cranbrook (26-2-1) scored four unanswered goals, controlled much of the second period while on multiple power plays, and did enough in the third to hang on.

“We just kind of wore out in that second period,” McIntyre said.

The Knights ended the season 17-11-0, an impressive mark considering how many players turned over from last year’s title team.

“We were so young, especially on the back end,” McIntyre said. Eight of the 19 players on the roster are freshmen or sophomores. “I think that had a lot to do with the inconsistency we had this year. … We had some real good stretches, where we beat some good teams, and then we’d fall back a bit. But that’s what you get with younger teams.”

McIntyre said his guys “got hot at the right time,” putting together their best stretch of games at the end of the season and into the playoffs.

Liggett cruised past Bishop Foley 13-0 in a regional semifinal, and then beat Country Day 7-4 in the final, setting up the battle with Cranbrook.

Now the task is maintaining the groundwork that’s been laid the past two years.

“We’re losing some firepower up front, but we’ve got some good players coming back,” McIntyre said. “It’ll be interesting to see how guys handle things next year. They’ll have some new responsibilities and some new roles. How they step up will influence the kind of team we have.”

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