Royal Oak High goalie Ross Koerber protects the net as a shot rings off the post against West Bloomfield High. The Ravens are looking to get back on track before postseason play begins.

Royal Oak High goalie Ross Koerber protects the net as a shot rings off the post against West Bloomfield High. The Ravens are looking to get back on track before postseason play begins.

Photo by Donna Dalziel


Royal Oak High hockey focusing on final stretch with playoffs around the corner

By: Mike Moore | Royal Oak Review | Published February 7, 2018

 Royal Oak High’s Darien Bond, right, battles for the puck. The Ravens have four regular-season games remaining at press time.

Royal Oak High’s Darien Bond, right, battles for the puck. The Ravens have four regular-season games remaining at press time.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

ROYAL OAK — The feeling is, a corner has been turned.

The worst is in the rearview mirror now.

The reality is, the Royal Oak High boys hockey team has to go out and prove those statements to be facts.

“We kind of see a light at the end of the tunnel,” coach Greg Paddison said last week. “We feel like we’ve made it through hell on earth here. Now we see our schedule and we see teams we feel like we can beat to get things going again.”

Royal Oak dove into the season and won eight of the first 10 games.

“We started so well,” Paddison said. “Everyone was just clicking.”

And then.

Well, the bottom fell out.

“A perfect storm of injuries, off-ice issues, you name it,” Paddison said. “Every time we thought we’d be getting back on track, something else popped up.”

Royal Oak improved to 8-2-1 overall with a 3-3 tie at Canton High on Dec. 27.

Since that game, the Ravens have taken the ice eight times and have left eight times on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

“We started the season with 23 healthy players and two goalies. During this stretch, we were down to 11 players and one goalie,” Paddison said of his group, which was 8-10-1 at press time.

“I think when the season started, we had our old coach resign right before we got going, and guys kind of rallied around one another,” said senior forward Nick Councilor, the team leader in points with 15 goals and 15 assists. “But then we lost some guys, and …”

His voice trailed off and the difficultly in the recent stretch could be heard.

But, as Paddison and Councilor were both quick to point out, the team never turned against itself.

“There’s been tension,” Councilor continued. “But this is a group of friends. We’ve lost some close games, so it’s tough. But the goal is to rebound.”

“There were some games where frustration set in and you understand that,” Paddison said. “We’ve battled to stay positive, and I think the struggles we’ve had have brought these guys closer together.”

Royal Oak kicks off the final stretch of the regular season at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 against DeWitt/St. Johns at Suburban Lansing Arena.

That’s the first of four remaining games before the playoffs begin.

“The message is a simple one. The first 10 games of the season were great. Then we’ve had it fall apart the next 10 games or so,” Paddison said. “Now it’s on us to hit the reset button. I think having that concrete goal to hit the ice at full speed, we know what we can do. When the playoffs get here, we should have all but two of the guys we started the season with. They are gaining confidence, and we’re looking forward to what we can do as a group.”

“We have to get everyone back, healthy and going the same direction,” Councilor added. “It’s on us to do that now. We have the talent to do it. It has to be a mindset for us to go out and do it.”