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Two of the top teams in the state set to clash as DLS and OLSM meet again

By: Jon Malavolti | C&G Newspapers | Published February 2, 2011

 De La Salle senior Ricky Steenland celebrates a goal during a win against Catholic Central earlier this season. The Pilots were 14-1-0 at press time and set to battle St. Mary’s on Feb. 2.

De La Salle senior Ricky Steenland celebrates a goal during a win against Catholic Central earlier this season. The Pilots were 14-1-0 at press time and set to battle St. Mary’s on Feb. 2.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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If the first go-round was any indication, the second meeting should be something special.

It was back in the early part of the season when the Warren De La Salle and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s hockey teams dropped the puck on their rivalry, although that Dec. 15 contest certainly had a new twist, as the yearly powers met for the first time as members of the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League.

Unlike in the past, however, when fans were treated with just one of these clashes per season, the Pilots and Eaglets are set to square off again.

“It should be another great game between two very good teams,” De La Salle coach Dan Barry said of the tilt, set for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2 at Great Lakes Sports City in Fraser. “We always look forward to playing them. It usually makes for a great time.”

Barry and his Pilots won the first meeting 4-3 in a game that was back and forth all night, featured three ties and didn’t see the winning goal until the final four minutes.

The closeness of that game wasn’t an oddity, though.

In the past five meetings between St. Mary’s and De La Salle, only once was a game decided by more than one goal — a 5-3 Pilots win Dec. 16, 2009 — and on three different occasions the game went to overtime, twice ending in a tie.

“We look forward to it, without a doubt,” said St. Mary’s coach Brian Klanow. “We enjoy being in the league and having to face teams that have a real sense of professionalism about them. It makes for great hockey.”

The hype surrounding this one is understandable and justifiable.

At press time, De La Salle was 14-1-0 overall, riding a 14-game winning streak, ranked No. 1 in Division 2 by the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association and atop the MIHL with an 8-1-0 record.

St. Mary’s, on the other hand, was 11-5-0, winners of seven-of-nine games, ranked No. 3 in D-1 and 5-5-0 in the MIHL.

Both teams are expected to make long playoff runs in their respective divisions.

“There’s a reason this is considered the best league in the state,” Klanow said with a laugh.

As for each team’s key to victory, Klanow said his guys have to get more shots on goal while avoiding giving up so many chances. St. Mary’s managed just 21 shots in the Dec. 15 loss, while De La Salle peppered junior goalie Joe Janiga with the puck 41 times.

“Their strength on offense and ability to get the puck on net really hurt us last time,” Klanow said. “When you let a team like that get the puck on goal that much, you’re going to be in trouble.”

Barry said he expects his guys to take the home ice with a similar approach as last time — flying around, being aggressive and getting the puck on net.

“We’re going to want to feed of the home crowd and come out with a quick start,” he added. “We played a pretty good game last time, but then again, so did St. Mary’s. I’d be surprised if that wasn’t the case for both teams again.”


 

 

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