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After lengthy layoff, Cranbrook and St. Mary’s get hockey schedule going

By: Mike Moore | C&G Newspapers | Published January 7, 2016

 Justin Jewula slams on the brakes during a defensive drill at practice. The Eaglets lost to the Cranes 4-3 in the team’s meeting earlier this season.

Justin Jewula slams on the brakes during a defensive drill at practice. The Eaglets lost to the Cranes 4-3 in the team’s meeting earlier this season.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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ORCHARD LAKE/BLOOMFIELD HILLS — There’s really no way to avoid it, and every winter when the holiday season launches, the game action for most hockey teams shifts into low gear.

That’s all about to change, though, as two of the stronger teams in the state prep for their second meeting of the 2015-16 season when Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood travels to take on Orchard Lake St. Mary’s at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16.

And it’s a meeting that both teams welcome.

“Between our last game and first practice back, it’s 17 or 18 days every year,” CK coach Andy Weidenbach said. With a number of his players living out of state, the Cranes do not hold team practices over break. “And from our last game to our first, it’s roughly 22 days or so. The layoff is a problem in terms of getting the timing back and being sharp. But the upside is the guys come back mentally fresh and are excited to get back at it. We feel ready to go. Getting back into these games and playing a team like St. Mary’s will certainly help.”

“You’d like to play more,” St. Mary’s coach Brian Klanow said. His team was able to practice some over break. “But it’s the same thing every year. You just have to deal with it.”

Cranbrook’s last game prior to break was a 5-1 loss to Birmingham Brother Rice on Dec. 19.

The Cranes’ first game back was against Novi Detroit Catholic Central on Jan. 9, after press time.

St. Mary’s, which beat Riverview Gabriel Richard 9-1 on Dec. 19, also played Jan. 9 against Port Huron Northern.

So, both teams are looking to get back into the flow of a regular schedule.

“And a game like this can be a good springboard for the rest of the season,” Klanow said of facing Cranbrook.

The Cranes (6-5-0) are the defending champs in Division 3 and currently ranked No. 4. They used a late goal to secure a 4-3 victory against St. Mary’s on Dec. 18.

“They are very good at slowing teams down through the neutral zone,” Weidenbach said of the Eaglets. “They have a really good forecheck. For us, we have to get the puck out of our end and get it behind their defensemen, which is easier said than done. … Truthfully, I thought they played well enough to win that first game. We got a couple good breaks late, which made the difference.”

St. Mary’s (5-7-1 at press time) is ranked No. 3 in D-1.

“I really like the team we’ve put together and what we’re doing,” Klanow said. “We lost a good game to Catholic Central at the start of the year 4-1, and then gave up two empty net goals the second time we played them in what was essentially a one-goal game. I think against the best teams we’re right there, a few adjustments away.”

And Klanow knows Cranbrook is traditionaly one of those “best teams.”

“This is a big rivalry for us, something we’re looking forward to,” he added. “There’s going to be a lot of emotion, and playing a team like Cranbrook is a good measuring stick for us.”

The Eaglets will lean on their top two scorers against the Cranes.

Grant Reszczyk leads the team with 10 goals and eight assists. Austin Stauffer has eight goals and eight assists, while no other player is in double figures in scoring yet.

The Cranes are a bit more balanced, with five players with nine points or more so far.

CJ Regula leads the team with six goals and nine assists.

“Whenever you play a St. Mary’s or any of the teams in this division, it’s such a good gauge on where you’re at in terms of how you’re developing,” Weidenbach added. “As a team that graduated 16 players like we did, this is a chance to show progress and see how we’ve grown since playing them last time.”

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