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December 12, 2012

South girls hockey looks to continue winning tradition

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

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Grosse Pointe South coach Joe Provenzano shares some words with his team during a time out in a game against Bloomfield United. Due to its history of success, Provenzano thinks teams are “gearing up” when they face South.

Winning multiple state titles can go a long way toward raising the bar for a program, as the players who suit up for Grosse Pointe South’s girls hockey team can probably attest to.

The Blue Devils have won 11 state titles total, including the last two in a row. Coach Joe Provenzano believes players know what is expected of them when they choose to lace up the skates for South.

“The way we try to run things within our program — at the end of the year, we want a state championship,” he said. “That’s a great tradition with the girls varsity team here at South. Coming into every season there is that expectation.”

South has 11 seniors on the squad to help try to accomplish the goal of hoisting another state title.  Provenzano has thoughts on the role he would like to see his upperclassmen play to help put the team in a position to do just that.

“Going through that run last year and the year before, it really is a good perspective for the upperclassmen on what it takes to get it done,” he said. “It’s really key that the upperclassmen’s leadership steps up and shows the way for these new girls. If they can make sure they’re improving their game individually, that’s going to provide a lot of leadership for the other girls on the team. If our core can do well, we should be in good shape.”

As far as Provenzano is concerned, any accomplishment South achieves on the way to a state title is just a bonus.

According to Provenzano, he doesn’t get too hung up on wins and losses during the regular season. Instead, he is more interested in having South go through a process of continuing to grow as the season progresses, and then peaking once the postseason rolls around.

“The last two seasons, we didn’t finish first place (in the Michigan Metro Girls High School Hockey League),” he said. “So it’s not like we had a cakewalk from the beginning of the season to the end of the season. There’s been adversity. I think that’s the stuff that’s helped us get better. From our perspective, we try to make sure throughout the season that everyone is getting better, so we have the best team in position at the end of the year (to) make a run at the state championship.

“It’s no different this year,” Provenzano continued. “We’re going to stick to that formula where we’re developing a team throughout the season, with the hopes of having an opportunity to make a good run at the end.”

Part of that process can be taking on teams that are well aware of the Blue Devils’ strong tradition. Provenzano believes getting other teams’ “A” game helps to prepare South for postseason play.

“I think that has (a) lot to do with everything that’s been done before I got to the program, just the success that they’ve had for like the last 15 years,” he said. “I know when we’re playing every team — those teams are gearing up. They’re going to be playing to win, because we’ve had success in the past. I think it’s like that in any sport. I think our girls are aware of it.”

South is next scheduled to be in action at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 13 against Grosse Pointe North at City Ice Arena in Detroit.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.