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Hockey

Published February 22, 2011

In the grand scheme of things, the best of the best will enjoy a journey that runs all of 13 days. Yet packed into that time frame is some of the most exciting and condensed high school athletic action the entire calendar has to offer.

As mid-February gives way to early March, hockey coaches and players throughout the state, and especially the five local teams, are hoping 13 is a lucky number.

The playoff puck officially drops Feb. 28 in rinks all across Michigan, culminating with three state finals March 12 at Compuware Sports Arena in Plymouth.

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Published February 22, 2011


ORCHARD LAKE — Curtailing certain rhetoric, especially when it centers on playoff aspirations, is an idea many coaches take to heart throughout the course of the regular season.

Some may avoid postseason talk all together, while others like to focus on the more immediate future, such as league titles or approaching things one game and one night at a time.

Brian Klanow is not one of those coaches.

He understands the mindset, but has never been one to dive too far into it.

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Published February 22, 2011

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After their first meeting as Macomb Area Conference Blue Division rivals, the Warren Mott and the L’Anse Creuse hockey teams know to expect the unexpected Feb. 26 at Great Lakes Sports City in Fraser.

“When we played Mott the first time, we really didn’t know what to expect,” L’Anse Creuse coach Wayne Tollon said.

“We had just beat Lamphere (9-1) and Mott had lost to Lamphere (5-3), so we didn’t expect them to come out at us the way they did that first game.”

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Published February 22, 2011

C&G Newspapers

For reasons that are as motivational as they are timely, Scott Lock has numerous fond memories regarding the opening round of the 2009 hockey state playoffs.

The Grosse Pointe North boys coach took his squad into a first-round match-up against one of the top teams in the entire state, a team that had won the best conference high school has to offer, and one that sat as a heavy favorite to make a lengthy postseason run.

Then, all the Norsemen did was go out and upset the University of Detroit Jesuit 3-1 en route to a trip to the Division 2 semifinals.

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Published February 16, 2011

GROSSE POINTE — In a game where both coaches agreed things were a bit off kilter from start to finish, the Grosse Pointe North boys hockey team used 30 shots and three power-play goals to cruise past Grosse Pointe South 7-2 back in the first weeks of the season.

But in talking to North coach Scott Lock, well, his guys did anything but cruise.
In talking to South coach James Bufalino, the difference was much smaller than the five goals may indicate.

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Published February 15, 2011

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — This, quite simply, is their time of year.

When the calendar begins its much-anticipated transition from February to March is when the Cranes’ dominance is defined.

The 2011 state hockey playoffs are set to begin in a little less than two weeks, and when it comes to the Division 3 tournament over the past two years, there’s been a certain bit of consistency regarding the team to beat.

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Published February 9, 2011

TROY — That old cliché rings true, only this year the gong is louder and more vibrant than ever.

When rivals meet — whether it’s on the court, field or ice — intensity, passion and that unwavering will to win essentially come without need for description.

More often than not, records are equally useless before the first pitch, opening tip of puck drop.

That’s exactly the case surrounding the Feb. 16 meeting between the Troy High and the Troy Athens hockey teams.

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Published February 9, 2011

FRASER — In high school sports, there are always going to be days like Feb. 4 was for the Utica Eisenhower hockey team — especially when everyone is gunning for you.

The first-place Eagles fell to Utica Stevenson 6-3 at Great Lakes Sports City to move to 6-2 in the MAC Red, 15-4 overall, and got a taste of what it’s like to be a marked team.

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Published February 9, 2011

Where there’s no need to tinker, why even try?

When the players, teams and games themselves have served as the perfect calling card to just how great an event this really is, why change anything for change’s sake?

Those are the questions Andy Weidenbach faced leading up to the 2011 Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League Prep Showcase.

And the more he pondered them, the clearer his answer became.

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Published February 9, 2011

C&G Newspapers

One of Macomb County’s best rivalries is one of prep hockey’s closest, as the Lancers and the Crusaders battle for the Creuse Cup at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at Mount Clemens Ice Arena.

The squads, which are both under new coaches this year, split their early season meetings, with L’Anse Creuse winning 6-4 Nov. 20 and North taking a 5-2 win Nov. 27, but with a rivalry like this one, previous contests mean very little.

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Published February 9, 2011


ROYAL OAK — At first glance, an 11-3 victory in the first meeting against a solid rival should inspire some deep-seated confidence as the second game of the season approaches.

Royal Oak Shrine hockey coach A.J. Plaskey understands and agrees with this notion.
He also takes it with a grain of salt.

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Published February 2, 2011

C&G Newspapers

If the first go-round was any indication, the second meeting should be something special.

It was back in the early part of the season when the Warren De La Salle and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s hockey teams dropped the puck on their rivalry, although that Dec. 15 contest certainly had a new twist, as the yearly powers met for the first time as members of the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League.

Unlike in the past, however, when fans were treated with just one of these clashes per season, the Pilots and Eaglets are set to square off again.

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Published February 2, 2011

COMMERCE TOWNSHIP — This was the same back flip he had done a number of times before. Admittedly, his form and technique were still far from perfect, but his confidence had grown substantially, nonetheless.

So, after what had been a typical Tuesday of classes, Walled Lake Central sophomore Drew Clayborn was ready to show off his new talent.

Surrounded by a group of friends in one of the school’s hallways, he bent at the knees, arched his back and jumped.

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Published January 26, 2011

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DETROIT — The sun hovering above him remained his saving grace, and Jeff Fleming knew it. Without its bright light, and somewhat calming rays, this day, so long in the making and so highly anticipated, may have fallen somewhere between unbearable and regrettable.

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Published January 25, 2011

C&G Newspapers

In the season’s first meeting, each team committed a few too many mistakes while simultaneously cashing in on some excellent opportunities.

The result was a 4-4 tie.

This time around, well, the game plans to success are seemingly in lockstep.

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Published January 18, 2011

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — The first drill focused on transition — the need for speed when shifting from a defensive situation into an offensive advantage.

Players received a pass near center ice, drove backwards until reaching the blue line, and then propelled themselves forward into the offensive zone in a flurry.

The next drill was all about breakouts.

A quick pass from the defensive zone, followed by another on the opposite end of the ice and capped off with a one-on-one breakaway.

Forward against goalie.

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Published January 18, 2011

OAK PARK — After 14 years of coaching, early mornings in cold rinks, late nights on team buses and countless moments planning and prepping, AJ Plaskey was ready for a break, ready to move on.

The long-time hockey coach had put in his time during the past seven years at Royal Oak High building the program back to respectability in the Oakland Activities Association.
But after the 2009-10 season, he prepared to walk away.

He felt comfortable stepping down.

Fast forward to a cold, January afternoon in Oak Park.

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Published January 19, 2011

C&G Newspapers

Rick Reed remembers his early hockey days as if they were last week.

Growing up in Flint, winters were always spent on skates and holding a stick. And most of the time, hockey was an outdoor game.

“Playing indoors was a luxury, the coolest thing in the universe,” the Bloomfield Hills Unified coach joked recently. “It’s crazy how things have changed. Now almost everything is played indoors.”

Almost.

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Published January 19, 2011

Utica High hockey coach Craig Staskowski is a man with a plan.

As he hopes to return the Chieftains to the heights they enjoyed in 2005-06, when they posted a 24-0 regular season record, Staskowski, who took over the program at the start of the 2010-11 season, knows it won’t come without hard work.

“One of the big things is having set standards and getting your kids to come out and trust you, and you build from there,” Staskowski said.

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Published January 19, 2011

The Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse hockey team is seeing the benefits of listening to its coach’s messages.

At press time, the Lancers were 2-0-0-0 in their first season in the Macomb Area Conference Blue Division — a point behind first-place Warren Mott — under first-year coach Wayne Tollon and led all MAC squads with 60 goals scored.

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