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Hockey

Published March 28, 2013

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — The bigger the moment, the bigger he played.

The hotter the spotlight, the brighter he shined.

In the simplest of terms, that sums up the 2012-13 season for Bloomfield Hills Cranrbook-Kingswood senior forward Alex Alger.

He was a do-it-all threat who, for most of the season, did it all.

“He got better and better as the year went on,” Cranes hockey coach Andy Weidenbach said. “He was so effective for us.”

Weidenbach wasn’t the only Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League coach to notice.

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Published March 19, 2013

Since they first put on a Berkley-Ferndale Unified sweater, coach Jeff Fleming has boasted about Joey Leider and Stephen Wroe as two of the top hockey players in the state.

Following this season’s playoffs, the rest of the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association concurred, naming the two standouts to the first-team All-State squad.

“It’s huge — huge for them as individuals and for our entire program,” Fleming said last week. “They are both such hard workers that really went out and earned this.”

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Published March 19, 2013

A year ago, they clawed through three overtimes before the decisive goal finally found the back of the net.

And with that, girls on the Farmington Hills Mercy hockey team were left stunned and heartbroken at how close they had come to a state title.

Yet they were watching another team celebrate a championship that was theirs for the taking.

Not this time.

“They didn’t want overtime this year,” coach Brandon Malinowski said with a laugh. “When the game got tied, you could see our girls get angry.”

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Published March 13, 2013

When it comes to playoff hockey, a 3-0 lead in the first period is usually a safe bet to punch a ticket to the next round.

But for the Grosse Pointe South boys squad, taking a three-goal advantage in the first eight minutes of last week’s Division 2 quarterfinal only re-affirmed the mantra that comes this time of year: “anything can happen.”

Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, it did.

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Published March 13, 2013

FARMINGTON HILLS — Perfection was almost a requirement for advancement, even as the defending champs.

On March 6, the Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett hockey team faced its biggest challenge in nearly two years in the state quarterfinals, taking on a No. 1-ranked Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood team that most penciled in to claim the Division 3 title when the playoffs began in late February.

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Published March 6, 2013

A new year brought the same old results for a pair of local hockey teams.

And that’s just fine by them.

Grosse Pointe South and Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett both claimed regional titles last weekend, advancing in their respective divisions.

The teams played quarterfinal games after press time.

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Published March 6, 2013

DETROIT — He sat in his office roughly three months ago as his guys prepped for the season opener.

Full of optimism and excitement for the year ahead, Jeff Fleming also spoke with a bit of caution.

The Berkley-Ferndale Unified hockey coach was one year removed from a 22-win season and had brought back a decent number of pieces from that team.

Still, the roster turnover and uncertainty with some of the newest additions were questions only time would answer.

The first came that night, in a resounding, seven-goal victory.

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Published March 5, 2013

Replacing 24 seniors in the past two years would almost serve as a near-impossible task for any high school hockey team still trying to maintain some level of respectability.

Almost.

“I’ll say this, I’m very, very proud of what these guys were able to do,” Farmington High coach Mark Vellucci said last week. “To lose 10 seniors from last year and 14 the year before that, and still play the way we did was pretty awesome. This was a great group of guys.”

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Published March 5, 2013

FARMINGTON HILLS — In what was one of the most anticipated openers in recent memory, two of the state’s best hockey teams squared off in an instant classic.

And with that, the state playoffs were officially under way.

The frenzy began Feb. 25 for hockey and girls basketball teams across the state, and on the ice, the Division 1 bracket was busted right away with Brother Rice’s down-to-the-wire 3-2 victory against Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.

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Published February 25, 2013

C&G Newspapers

FARMINGTON HILLS — Four tries, four wins, and now, the Birmingham Brother Rice hockey team is one step closer to consecutive state championships.

The Warriors kicked off the Division 1 state tournament Monday night with a 3-2 victory against Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in one of the most highly anticipated playoff openers in recent history.

The MIHL foes were playing each other for the fourth time since Jan. 5, and were just nine days removed from facing off in the Catholic League finals at Joe Louis Arena.

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Published February 19, 2013

They met twice in the regular season, once more in the Catholic League final, and as if that wasn’t enough, the Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and Birmingham Brother Rice hockey teams will launch the 2013 Division 1 playoffs against one another.

Even if it’s not the most popular option with those involved.

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Published March 28, 2012

FRASER — For four years, Connor Gordley endured the ups and downs associated with the Fraser High hockey team.

For four years, he strived to be as consistent a player he could while building the Ramblers’ program back to respectability.

This past season, he helped deliver the ultimate team award in a Macomb Area Conference Blue Division title.

Roughly two weeks ago, he was given one of the best individual awards, too.

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Published March 6, 2012

Even when it’s expected, it remains an accomplishment.

Even though they were favored, the battle and the grind are well worth the payoff.

Lou Schmidt Jr. and his Birmingham Brother Rice hockey team entered the Division 2 playoffs as the team to beat in Region 15, and while anything shy of a title and subsequent trophy would have been deemed a disappointment, the Warriors weren’t selling themselves short after taking another step forward in the postseason.

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Published February 21, 2012

TROY — If there’s no other night filled with more anticipation for high school hockey fans than the start of the playoffs, then there’s no better way to start them than the way Troy High and Troy Athens are about to.

Head to head.

The city rivals will kick off the Division 1 tournament Feb. 27 in a pre-regional game.

Officials will drop the puck at 8:30 p.m. at the Troy Sports Center, and it almost goes without saying how much the teams are looking forward to it.

But Tim Zimmerman and Joe Barone said it anyway.

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Published February 15, 2012

ROYAL OAK — Some of the first steps were taken last year, the strength of the foundation poured in a hockey program still trying to figure itself out.

As he entered his second season behind the Royal Oak Shrine bench this winter, though, A.J. Plaskey couldn’t help wonder whether there’d be any momentum carrying over.

He got his answer almost instantly.

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Published December 7, 2011


As the hockey season settles into its first month, and players and teams get ready for a mini break over the holidays, there’s some unfinished business in the city of Troy to tend to first.

Namely, the renewing of an icy rivalry.

“I expect another typical game between the two teams,” Troy High coach Tim Zimmerman said of the Dec. 14 tilt against Troy Athens, set for 7:15 p.m. at the Troy Sports Center. “There will be a lot of intensity. I expect it to be very physical, and both teams to bring their best effort.”

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Published November 23, 2011

FRASER — Don Krussman has the pieces he wants.

In fact, as he begins construction on the puzzle that is the 2011-12 hockey season, the Fraser High coach has more pieces comprising more experience than he’s used to working with.

He and his team are also part of a three-team division that is anyone’s for the taking.

Now it’s time to go to work.

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Published April 6, 2011

If there’s any indication as to how dominant the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League has been over the past decade, consider the 2011 playoff season.

The most recent state tourney marked the first time since 2003 a team currently occupying one of the league’s eight spots did not take home a state title.

Still, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and Birmingham Brother Rice each played in the Division 1 and 2 finals this year, respectively.

And the coaches within the league recognized the best of the best by naming the 2011 All-MIHL squads.

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Published March 30, 2011

GROSSE POINTE — A year ago, it was one goal that led to one loss that served as the precursor for one tear-jerking offseason.

This time around, the Grosse Pointe South girls hockey team wasn’t taking any chances in the 2010-11 state final, beating Ann Arbor Pioneer 6-2.

When the 2010 Michigan Metro Girls Hockey High School Hockey League’s playoff tournament came to a close, the Blue Devils found themselves mired in an emotional whirlpool of heartbreak.

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Published March 23, 2011

WARREN — There’s a belief now that’s never been accepted before.

There’s a confidence being felt that was unknown for years.

Katie Labut couldn’t hide from the past, nor did she feel the need to.

Instead, her goal and drive was focused squarely on changing the future, molding a team and program known for struggles on the ice into a contender known for long runs in the postseason.

Nothing would come easy, and she knew it.

Nothing would be handed to them, and she embraced that.

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