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Cranbrook beats Country Day 2-1 in D-3 quarterfinal

Cranes get power-play goal with 29 seconds remaining

By: Mike Moore | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 9, 2016

 Hayden Taylor and the Country Day hockey team closed the season on a 14-3-0 run.

Hayden Taylor and the Country Day hockey team closed the season on a 14-3-0 run.

File photo by Sarah Purlee

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FARMINGTON HILLS — He had a clean shot, but hesitated.

And in that split-second delay, just enough traffic formed in front of the net to where Dawson Zahorian felt confident to unwind from the blue line.

Moments later, the Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood junior defenseman was in his own zone being mobbed by teammates.

A celebration under way, a ticket to the state semifinals punched.

Zahorian’s power-play goal with just 29.2 seconds remaining in regulation of Wednesday night’s Division 3 quarterfinal at the Farmington Hills Ice Arena, pushed the Cranes to a 2-1 victory over Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day and into Friday morning’s semifinal with Hancock High.

“Surreal,” Zahorian said about his game-winning blast. “I got a good pass. I saw an opening, but I waited for a second. I saw a screen in front and let it go.”

“I don’t think their goalie ever saw it,” coach Andy Weidenbach said. “Both teams played hard. It could have gone either way. We were fortunate to get that last goal. It was a fortunate bounce for us.”

“Tough pill to swallow,” Country Day coach Frank Novock said simply.

Both Cranbrook goals came with the extra attacker.

The Cranes took a 1-0 lead with 4:20 remaining in the opening period when Alec Regula scored a power-play tally.

But Country Day answered with a power-play goal of its own just 1:40 into the second frame when Filip Standkiewicz beat Cranbrook goalie Nolan Rogow to tie things up at 1-1.

That score would hold firm until the game’s final seconds, despite a series of close calls and even a brief 5-on-3 power play for Country Day after Cranbrook was whistled for a five-minute boarding major early in the third.

But it was the five-minute boarding penalty called on Country Day with 5:01 remaining in regulation that gave the Cranes the extra attacker and extended power play.

“We got it down to 30 seconds, and it goes back to us not pressuring the puck one time,” Novock said of the penalty kill. “You make one little mistake against a team that good, you’re going to pay.”

Country Day, which started the season 4-8-0, ended on a 14-3-0 run.

“It’s a process,” Novock said of his team’s maturation. “It’s not easy, especially when you lack the talent like we do. We played a very methodical game, the right way to play. … I give so much credit to the seniors and to the leadership. It’s not always fun to be around here (working at it). But to stay with it, that’s the life lessons.  If you do enough of the right thing, it’s going to work out. That’s what I told the guys.”

Cranbrook (19-10-0) faces Hancock (21-6-0) at 11 a.m. Friday at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth.

The Cranes are the defending D-3 champs seeking their third title in the past four years.

Country Day goalie Brendan Dolan finished the game with 29 saves.

To see video of Zahorian's game-winning goal, click here.

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