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LCN hockey hosts L’Anse Creuse at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at Mount Clemens Ice Arena

By: Brad D. Bates | C&G Newspapers | Published February 9, 2011

 Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse senior Ryan Dettloff and the Lancers take on Macomb L’Anse Creuse North at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at Mount Clemens Ice Arena.

Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse senior Ryan Dettloff and the Lancers take on Macomb L’Anse Creuse North at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at Mount Clemens Ice Arena.

Patricia O’Blenes

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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.

“This game is all passion for your school,” L’Anse Creuse coach Wayne Tollon said. “We just played a tough game against Swartz Creek, which is one of the best teams we’ll see all year. That’s the type of game we need to get ready for the Creuse Cup.”

The Lancers were 11-3 overall, including a 5-4 overtime win against 16-2-1 Swartz Creek, and Tollon is happy with the way his team has played its way to a 4-1, second-place record in the MAC Blue at press time.

But, as he reiterated, past success means little in the atmosphere of the Creuse Cup game.

“The first thing you notice is, it’s a packed house,” Tollon said. “I tell my guys to feed off the atmosphere, but not get too carried away with it.”

“I tell the seniors that this is, their last Creuse Cup game and probably the last chance to play in front of a packed house, so they better play like it,” Nader added.
“And I tell the underclassmen that they have to learn from it, because they’ve got at least one more Creuse Cup game in their career.”

While he joins Tollon as a first-year head coach with his program, North coach Jon Nader was a coach in the North program years ago and knows how big the game is to his players and community.

“It’s stronger than ever,” Nader said of the rivalry. “The kids grew up together and played together, so they all know each other. Except now, I don’t think they’re too friendly. These kids are very excited about it.”

Like Tollon, Nader took over the North program and immediately focused his team on defense.

“We had a great summer program together,” Nader said. “We went to a camp in Alpena, and foc
used a lot on goaltending and defense there.”

Sophomore Gage Minkley and junior Kyle Forner have led North’s defense in front of their goaltenders — senior Alex Sypniewski and junior Brian Ellis.

“We have two really good goalies, and we’re blessed to have those two,” Nader said. “Alex has been phenomenal and has really only had one off game against (Clinton Township) Chippewa Valley.”

Nader referred to the Crusaders’ 8-3 loss to the Big Reds Jan. 14, but he said his team responded to that loss with a 2-1-1 run.

“They came back and really played well in our next game,” Nader said. “I told them it was a rough game, but a little adversity doesn’t hurt anyone.”

Furthering the similarities between the rivals is their offensive output, as both squads feature a potent first line with solid checking lines.

Senior forward Tyle Spezia, who had 42 points and 29 goals at press time, and his line lead the L’Anse Creuse offense. And North features a line led by junior Evan Corbett and senior Richard Kobylski, who combined for 25 goals and 41 points in their first 13 games.

“They have the line with Corbett, and we have the line with Spezia — and those two lines should match up,” Tollon said. “What we’ve done this year is run our lines on a set rotation, so our second and third lines get equal playing time. And as the season goes on, our third line should be pretty good.”

That sentiment was almost echoed by Nader.

“Rich Kobylski and Evan Corbett have been excellent for us,” said Nader, whose team improved to 10-5-3 overall, 4-1-2 in the MAC White with a 5-4 win against Anchor Bay Jan. 28.

“But we’ve been getting a lot of contributions from guys we didn’t necessarily expect to see it from. Against Anchor Bay, we played really well as a team and got production from all four of our lines.”

That only proves how close this game should be, no matter who is on the ice.

“I don’t see either team scoring more than five goals this year,” Tollon said in regards to last year’s 10-5 win by North. “Both teams play really strong defense, and this game shouldn’t be any different.”
 

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