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GP North and South hockey will collide Feb. 19

By: Mike Moore | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 16, 2011

 In the first meeting of the season between Grosse Pointe North and South, it was the Norsemen cruising to a five-goal victory. Junior forward Julien Quinlan (17), pictured during a Jan. 29 victory against Cranbrook, and the rest of his teammates expect a much closer game when the city rivals meet on Feb. 19.

In the first meeting of the season between Grosse Pointe North and South, it was the Norsemen cruising to a five-goal victory. Junior forward Julien Quinlan (17), pictured during a Jan. 29 victory against Cranbrook, and the rest of his teammates expect a much closer game when the city rivals meet on Feb. 19.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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.

A rematch of that Dec. 11 game has finally arrived, and with the state tournament less than two weeks away, a strong showing the second time around carries the utmost importance for each of these city rivals.

“We’re looking forward to what should be an intense, emotional night for our guys,”
Lock said of the game, set for 6:15 p.m. Feb. 19 at Great Lakes Sports City. “It’s Senior Night, and we want to send those guys out on a good note. The atmosphere should be great. The fans will be there, fired up to see two teams that respect one another, but want desperately to beat one another.”

Lock and his Norsemen were able to do that in the first meeting, namely by firing shots from every angle and taking advantage of five power plays while killing off five penalties of their own.

Still, Lock maintains the belief that the team playing the better game that night went home with a loss.

“That score was very misleading,” he said. “They outworked us most of that night and probably played a better all-around game than we did. We were fortunate to take advantage of some chances, and we got excellent goaltending. … We played well in spurts, but not consistently enough to justify that score.”

“We certainly learned our lesson,” said Bufalino, whose team had 27 shots, but was 0-for-5 with the man advantage. “You can’t take bad penalties and expect to win against a team like North. Sure, we may have felt like we controlled parts of that game, but in the end, they did what they had to do to win.”

So now, the rematch ensues, and a rivalry that has produced some great games over the years may even get a bit more testy considering these two squads are in the same pre-regional and could possibly see one another on the first weekend of the Division 2 playoffs.

“But right now, we have to approach this as one game on one night,” Bufalino cautioned. “Our focus is on playing a complete game. We can’t have two good periods and take one off, especially against a team like North.”

At press time, the Blue Devils were 10-7-1; the Norsemen were 8-8-2.

Just as Lock cautioned his guys against thinking this game would be easy based on the last game’s final score, Bufalino said he’d warn his guys on looking too deeply into the .500 record North maintains.

“We can’t get caught up in the way their record looks, because the schedule they play is incredible,” Bufalino said of North, which consistently faces state-ranked teams.

“But there’s no coincidence in us scheduling them at this time of the year,” Bufalino added. “You have to pack these last couple weeks with as many quality teams and high-pressure situations as you can.”

“It’s going to be playoff-style hockey,” Lock added. “That’s exactly what you want this time of year. That’s what you can’t help but love.”