Wild’s wild ride ends with close loss in girls hockey finals

By: Mike Moore | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published March 14, 2013

Even in defeat, he called it a great game — a remarkable journey that he and every one of his girls aren’t soon to forget.

“It was awesome to be part of it,” Walled Lake Unified girls hockey coach Erik Carlson said two days after his team dropped the Michigan Metro Girls High School Hockey League’s Division 2 championship game 3-2 to Farmington Hills Mercy. “It was huge for us, for these girls and for the entire program.”

The Wild reached the March 9 title game, thanks to a 4-3 double-overtime victory against Plymouth-Canton Salem in the semifinals.

Once in the final, the Wild and Mercy engaged in a game that featured just about everything.

Walled Lake took a 1-0 lead when Kylie Armstrong found the back of the net in the second period. Mercy answered back shortly after, then took a 2-1 lead with just 20 seconds remaining in the second frame.

Midway through the third, Walled Lake was awarded a penalty shot.

But after the attempt was stopped, Carlson and the bench argued the Mercy goalie had left the crease before the puck was touched at center ice — a rule violation.

“So we got a second chance at it,” he said with a laugh. “This time, we didn’t miss.”

Emma Crone made the most of the mulligan, tying the game 2-2.

Mercy eventually won with a power-play goal in the final two minutes of regulation.

“It was a real good game, both ways, for both teams,” Carlson said.

The Wild reached the league final for the first time in program history.

Carlson said he believes the 15-5-1 record was the best for the team in its eight-year existence.

“The senior class was great,” the coach explained. “They led all season, set the example and had the leadership we needed.”

As for whether or not he was surprised at all by the final record, including the chance to play for a title, he said, “Not really. No.”

“We were pretty confident all year,” he added. “We knew we had a good team. It was just a matter of keeping things together, which the girls did.”