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Royal Oak

March 6, 2013

Ravens hockey team reaches regional

Hoops squad falls in district final

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Royal Oak’s Tanner Kinkela, right, protects the puck from a West Bloomfield defender during a regional final March 2. The Ravens fell 5-2.

DEARBORN — Up and down most of the year, Craig Ward saw things come together at just the right time.

The payoff was the first trip to the regional final for the Royal Oak High hockey team since the 2003 season.

“We gave it everything we had, and just fell a little short,” Ward said of a 5-2 loss to West Bloomfield High in a Division 2 regional final March 2. “It was a hard-fought game. We played well. They just had two late goals and made a few more plays than we did.”

The game was filled with infractions, as the teams combined for 28 minor penalties and 20 power plays.

The Lakers ended up scoring on four of their 12 chances, while the Ravens went just 1 for 8.

Still, Royal Oak trailed 3-2 in the third, and had opportunities to tie the game.

“The guys have a lot to be proud of,” Ward said. “There weren’t too many people that gave us a chance to get this far.”

Royal Oak beat Warren Mott 5-3 in the semifinal and snuck past Bloomfield Hills Unified 3-2 in overtime in the playoff opener.

“I’m very proud, as a team, to see where we ended,” Ward said. “The season was up and down, and we know that. I came in and changed things up. We pushed them a lot, and it took time to get used to everything. At the end of the year, they started to believe. They trusted each other, and that’s what got us here.”

The Ravens finished 12-14-1.

“We’re losing seven guys, some guys that did a lot for us, but we’ve got some great kids coming back,” Ward added. “To get to this point and play for what we were means a lot to us, moving forward.”

On the hardwood

The Royal Oak girls basketball team also had a chance to advance in the first stage of the playoffs, but fell to Lathrup Village Southfield-Lathrup 54-41 in a Class A district final on March 1.

“We were only down five in the fourth, so we were right there,” coach Brian Sopata said. “We played really well. In the end, they had a few more plays than we did. But we played as well as I could have asked.”

The Ravens, who beat Beverly Hills Groves 50-42 in the semifinals and Southfield High 50-29 in the opener, ended the season 17-6.

“It was another great year for our girls,” Sopata said. “Our seniors are graduating with 35 wins in the past two years, and that’s awesome.”

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