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January 30, 2013

Second-ranked teams in MAC and OAA set to square off for second straight year

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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Second-ranked teams in MAC and OAA set to square off for second straight year
Farmington Hills Unified’s T. J. Zak, a senior from North Farmington, gets off a shot during a recent practice. The Flyers will take on Utica Eisenhower in the MAC-OAA Showcase at 6 p.m. Feb. 2.

As hockey coaches and players across Macomb and Oakland Counties prep for the 2013 MAC-OAA Showcase, only four of the 30 teams involved will face the same team as they did a year ago.

The No. 2-ranked squads from each league set up half of that equation.

“I don’t know if there’s any advantage either way,” Eisenhower coach Bob Hall said of his team and its game against Farmington Hills Unified. “It’s not a huge rivalry or anything, but I guess if this pattern keeps up, it could become one.”

Ike, the second-ranked team in the MAC, takes on Farmington Hills, the second-ranked team in the OAA, at 6 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Rochester Onyx.

The teams, also ranked second a year ago, met for what turned into a 5-2 Ike win in last year’s showcase.

“I don’t know if we’re going to think about last year very much, if at all,” Flyers coach Ken Anderson said. “I mean, we have 10 or 11 guys that are gone from the team that were part of that. So, I don’t know if drumming up a revenge factor would really work. What I do know is that we owe them a good game.”

What fans considering attending the game should know is that both teams are talented and that they have division and playoff aspirations.

Ike, 14-1-1 overall and 3-0-0 in the MAC Red at press time, was second in the MAC to Dakota (15-0-0, 5-0-0).

The Eagles have used a little bit of everything to pile up the wins so far, cruising past other MAC teams, upending squads like Warren De La Salle and going 3-0-1 against teams from the OAA.

The guys are averaging nearly five goals per game, allowing fewer than two, and they have three shutouts.

“And we’ve got a couple transfer kids who are now eligible to play,” Hall said. “So, hopefully, we’re only going to get better.”

The Flyers, who may not have the flashiest record at 9-5-2, have also been a team to contend with in the OAA.

They are 4-1-2 in the OAA Red Division and, since Dec. 22, had lost just once in six games (3-1-2).

Both coaches are looking forward to the challenge.

“We have to play smart defensively. We can’t turn pucks over in our zone. They are a hard working, good, strong team that is going to throw everything at you,” Anderson said. “We have to be very responsible in our zone, and when we have chances, we have to put it in the net. I know they are a team that won’t make many mistakes, but if they do, we have to capitalize.”

“We’re still learning about them, but we know they’re a good team,” Hall said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge. The OAA is a good league that’s always given us some good games.”

Lake Orion High and St. Clair Shores Unified, the No. 7 seeds, are the only other teams duplicating last year’s matchups.

The MAC-OAA Showcase begins its fourth year of hockey action Feb. 2. All games are at the Rochester Onyx, beginning at 10 a.m. and running through 10 p.m.

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