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 The Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day hockey team celebrate with the trophy after winning the Division 3 state championship. The Yellowjackets beat Houghton High 4-1 to capture their second straight D-3 title.

The Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day hockey team celebrate with the trophy after winning the Division 3 state championship. The Yellowjackets beat Houghton High 4-1 to capture their second straight D-3 title.

Photo by Donna Agusti

Country Day knocks off Houghton High to win second straight Division 3 title

By: Jacob Herbert | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 9, 2019


PLYMOUTH — The 1997-1998 Detroit Red Wings, the 2016-2017 Pittsburgh Penguins and now the 2018-2019 Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day Yellowjackets all have one thing in common, back-to-back championships.

The most recent of them came for Country Day March 9 in a Division 3 state title game against Houghton High.

The Yellowjackets won 4-1.

“Obviously back-to-back is incredible, but I’ve been here eight years now and the guys that came before these guys, we didn’t have the greatest win-loss records, but the bar was set to a high standard,” Country Day Coach Frank Novock said. “It’s not always easy and it’s not always fun, but when you put that sweater on, you know you’re going to have to be a part of it. These guys have just continued to carry the torch, and I can’t thank the guys that came before them enough for setting the example.”

Not many championship teams have made it to the top without facing a little adversity along the way. That same thing happened to the Yellowjackets. Houghton’s Seth Francois put the Gremlins on top 1-0 before some fans in the arena had the chance to take their seats.

“One of my mottos is you shouldn’t give up a goal in the first or last minute of a period,” Country Day goaltender Sam Evola said. “I didn’t do that, but you’ve got to learn from your mistakes, correct them and keep it up. You can’t think about that goal, it’s gonna make it worse. You’ve just got to bounce back”

Novock noted how the team had got off to slow starts in nearly every game throughout the playoffs, this one was no different.

“I just told the guys, ‘We haven’t even done anything and the game is two minutes old. Let’s get back to what made us successful,’" Novock said. “And we did.

“I think the experience with these seniors, we never got rattled and we never got flustered on the bench. We just stuck together. We were going down together or winning together, and that’s what happened.”

Just seconds after failing to convert on a power play, Yellowjackets sophomore Lucas Krol fired a slap shot past the blocker of Gremlins goaltender Jimmy Pietila to even the game.

The two teams would head to the locker room tied at 1-1at the end of the first period.

Country Day and Houghton exchanged power-play chances in the second period, but neither team was able to breakthrough.

That was the case throughout the majority of the period until 1:20 remained and junior forward Dallas Hood cut around two defenders to the middle of the ice and fired home a goal from in between the faceoff circles.

Country Day led 2-1 after two periods of play.

As the third period began, Houghton had perhaps its best chance to tie the game. The Gremlins had just under 1:30 of a 5-on-3 advantage remaining after Jacob Thomas and Krol took penalties in the waning moments of the second period.

The Yellowjackets penalty kill, which was perfect on the night, killed off both penalties. Mickey VanAntwerp scored shortly after to push the Yellowjacket lead to 3-1.

“I don’t know what the stats are at any level of hockey, but if you kill off a 5-on-3, you’ve got a pretty good chance of winning the game,” Novock said. “We just  said we wanted to protect the house. We wanted to stay very stationary and keep them to the outside. We were fortunate to get a couple clears and a real big faceoff win. Then to score right after that was a huge part of the game.”

Krol would go on to add his second goal of the game on an empty netter. The Yellowjackets finish the season 23-4-2 overall.