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  The Birmingham Brother Rice bench looks on during a game Jan. 22 against Novi Detroit Catholic Central at home. The Warriors topped the Shamrocks 2-1 to take the regular-season series two games to one.

The Birmingham Brother Rice bench looks on during a game Jan. 22 against Novi Detroit Catholic Central at home. The Warriors topped the Shamrocks 2-1 to take the regular-season series two games to one.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Brother Rice hockey looking to stay hot

By: Jacob Herbert | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published January 27, 2020

 Rice senior Ryan Murphy sizes up his defender in a recent game at home. At press time, the Warriors were 12-2-1 overall and 9-1 in the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League North Division.

Rice senior Ryan Murphy sizes up his defender in a recent game at home. At press time, the Warriors were 12-2-1 overall and 9-1 in the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League North Division.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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BIRMINGHAM —  This season couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start for the Birmingham Brother Rice hockey team.

At press time, the Warriors were 12-2-1 overall and sitting atop the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League with a 9-1 record. The Warriors also took the regular-season series from archrival Novi Detroit Catholic Central two games to one.

The Warriors beat the Shamrocks 2-1 Jan. 22 at home to accomplish that feat.

Rice coach Kenny Chaput said depth is one of the more prominent factors behind his team’s success. His top line of Ryan Murphy, Nick Marone and DJ Dixon have combined for 80 points in 14 games played.

While that line carries the majority of the scoring, the coach said he has multiple groups of skaters who can get things done on the ice.

“We carry 11 forwards normally, and I use them all,” Chaput said before a recent game at the Oak Park ice arena. “A lot of times teams will have 11, but they’ll play six or seven. Having the ability to put most kids out in most situations definitely helps.”

Chaput noted that speed is another asset the Warriors have been able to utilize. The coach, who took over the program in 2016, has turned his attention to puck management and playing smarter hockey.

“I like our kids to make plays, I’ve never discouraged playmakers, but there’s times to do it and times not to,” Chaput said. “When you don’t have support or the situation isn’t right, then you have to be a little bit smarter on where you’re leaving pucks or where you’re putting pucks.”

Rice has used conversation between players and coaches as well as film sessions to help the team differentiate scenarios where it is and isn’t OK to try and beat a player one on one.

Aside from that top line, seniors Alex Andoni, Nick Dippre, Jack Geraghty and Cooper Duncan have all been standout players in some regard this season. With 14 seniors on the roster, the Warriors have plenty of experience, as they’ve grown a lot together during their high school careers.

“They’ve matured,” Chaput said. “We had a lot of them last year as juniors, and there was a lot of turmoil with our team. But they’ve learned a lot of good lessons, like ‘team first’ versus ‘me first,’ and things of that nature. It’s been a process, and that process really stated about this time last year. They’ve grown together, they’ve learned a lot together, and I think we’ll see it pay off down the stretch.”

Marone — who is third on the team in scoring with 24 points on 15 goals and nine assists — said the camaraderie of the team has helped him perform as well as he has in the first half of the year.

“If I wasn’t having fun, I probably wouldn’t be here,” he said. “Playing with my friends is so cool. I’ve been doing it for three years now. It’s an awesome experience.”

The Warriors are hoping their speed, depth and camaraderie can carry them to the state final March 14 at the USA Hockey Arena. Since 2005, Brother Rice has appeared in five state finals, winning four of them.

Chaput’s team has seen its season come to an end prior to the state final in the last two seasons, losing in the semifinals each time.

The Warriors will be looking to get over that hump and return to familiar territory at the end of the year.

“Our goal is always the big banner at the end of the rink — it’s a state championship,” Chaput said. “We gear most of everything we do towards March and having a good run at that point.”

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