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Youthful Stoney Creek hockey team taking strides in right direction

By: Mike Moore | Rochester Post | Published December 15, 2015

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ROCHESTER HILLS — Comparatively speaking, this is a group that’s come a long way in a short amount of time.

That’s the sentiment that Rochester Hills Stoney Creek hockey coach Ian Smith has about his 2015-16 group.

The season is a little more than a month old, but speaking last week about his guys, Smith wasn’t short on compliments.

“This is the most enjoyable group that I’ve had in 10 years of coaching,” Smith said. “We’re not as great or as skilled as some that have come before, but they are group that listens, works hard and has such a positive attitude. … Compared to where we were a month ago, they’ve taken some huge strides.”

After going 11-15-2 a year ago, the Cougars brought back just seven varsity veterans this winter and have a roster with just five seniors.

“It’s a young team and a team new to high school hockey,” Smith said. “But it’s been fun, and we’re getting better. That’s the key. We’re losing some close games, but that’s part of the process.”

Stoney was 1-5-0 at press time, but in its most recent games fell to Berkley Unified 5-4 and to Lake Orion High 3-2.

Berkley is 5-1-0 on the year, while Lake Orion is 5-2-0.

“The guys are playing the system, which is key,” Smith added. “We have two new goalies who are getting better. We have defensemen who can handle the puck, and that’s where we start.  We’re a team that works from the net out.”

“Been good so far,” senior Evan Chechack said. The defenseman is in his third year with the varsity squad. “It really comes down to how we’re working. I mean, we have a lot of young and new guys to the team. But we’ve worked at it. The whole fall season was about getting better and developing the skills and the systems.”

Chechack said the improvements have been impossible to miss.

“The pace of play is so different — the passing, the flow of the game,” he explained. “We couldn’t do five passes at the start of the year, and now we’re getting so many more offensive opportunities.”

To his point, Stoney recorded a season-high 40 shots in the loss to Berkley.

“To embrace the process of getting better day by day is so important,” Smith said. “It starts in practice, and the weight room and those areas. If we keep getting better and better every day, the ceiling is so high with these guys. They believe in one another. They’ve done everything right to get us where we are.”

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