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Cranbrook stunned in OT, falls in D-3 semifinal

By: Mike Moore | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 11, 2016

 Cranbrook senior goalie Stephen Friedland finished the game with 28 saves as the Cranes ended the season 19-10-1.

Cranbrook senior goalie Stephen Friedland finished the game with 28 saves as the Cranes ended the season 19-10-1.

File photo by Sarah Purlee

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PLYMOUTH —There will be a new champion in the Division 3 hockey playoffs.

A little bit of overtime heroics made sure of it early Friday afternoon at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth.

Freshman Alex Nordstrom scored on the power play 6:51 into the first overtime  as Hancock High eliminated Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood 2-1 in a state semifinal game, ending the Cranes’ hope at defending their 2015 title.

“This kid is a freshman and gets the winning goal,” Hancock coach Dan Rouleau said. “It doesn’t get much better than that."

“They have a good power play. And if you give a good team enough chances, eventually they are going to bury it,” Cranbrook coach Andy Weidenbach said. “When we had the power play we weren’t able to capitalize. That’s the difference.”

Cranbrook was whistled for a roughing penalty 4:02 into the extra period, and then 1:10 later, was called for high sticking, giving Hancock a 5-on-3 advantage.

The Cranes were able to kill the first penalty, but with just 21 seconds remaining on the single-man advantage, a fortunate bounce of the puck off a Cranbrook defenseman's head landed the puck on Nordstrom’s stick, and the Bulldogs’ 30th shot of the game would be the final one needed.

The goal was Nordstrom’s 31st of the season.

“It kind of hit his cage and popped out right in front of me,” Nordstrom said of the winner. “I’m guessing he was trying to block it.”

“When you lose, it doesn’t matter how you do it, it’s disappointing,” Weidenbach said. “Again, I’m proud of my team. They worked hard. It was a great hockey game. The last bounce of the game went their way.”

Hancock took a 1-0 lead 10:40 into the second period on Luke Rautio’s power-play goal.

But Cranbook answered back roughly four minutes later when CJ Regula intercepted a pass in the Hancock zone, flipped the puck past a defender, and then waited long enough to outlast goalie Dawson Kero, who had gone down, and tucked the puck in what had become essentially an empty net.

“He made the first move and then tucked it in behind him," Weidenbach said of the goal. "He’s pretty good with the puck.”

The Cranes had numerous chances to take the lead, but failed to beat Kero the rest of the game.

They finished the day 0-for-4 on the power play. Hancock converted on 2-of-7 chances.

“That was big. If we could have capitalized when we had the power play,” Weidenbach said. “I think that was the difference in the game, special teams. Our PK was OK, and our goaltending was good. It’s that one bounce they got in overtime.”

Cranbrook closes the season 19-10-1.

“We overachieved, there’s no doubt about,” Weidenbach said. His roster had just seven seniors on it. “We have a young team and we gained a lot of valuable experience this year. It’s going to help us going forward.”

Hancock (23-6-0) will face Chelsea High or Grand Rapids Catholic Central in Saturday’s 2 p.m. state final.

Cranbrook senior goalie Stephen Friedland finished the game with 28 saves.

Kero stopped 33 shots to earn the win.

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