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 Members of the L'Anse Creuse Unified hockey team pose with a Division 1 regional championship trophy following a 3-0 March 4 win over Rochester United. It's the first regional title for the program.

Members of the L'Anse Creuse Unified hockey team pose with a Division 1 regional championship trophy following a 3-0 March 4 win over Rochester United. It's the first regional title for the program.

Photo by Jason Carmel Davis


L'Anse Creuse Unified hockey blanks Rochester, wins first regional title

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Online Only | Published March 4, 2020

MOUNT CLEMENS — Following L’Anse Creuse Unified Division 1 regional final victory against Rochester United, senior goalkeeper Lucas Czarnecki admitted he didn’t believe his team could make a deep playoff run.

“No. I didn’t think it was possible,” said Czarnecki March 4 after the win. “We struggled in the regular season (12-13 overall), so playing well in the playoffs didn’t seem like a real possibility.”

In the regional final, Czarnecki didn’t play like someone who didn’t think his team had a shot. The senior helped propel his team to a 3-0 victory. The triumph gives the program its first regional championship. Unified (14-13) advances to face Howell High (18-10) in a state quarterfinal at 7 p.m. March 7 at Suburban Ice Macomb.

“This is an unbelievable feeling,” Unified coach Jon Nader said. “The regular season didn’t go the way we’d hoped, but these guys never gave up. They fought all year. They played with heart all year and that’s shown very much in the playoffs.”

Unified got what would prove to be the game-winning goal on a score from senior forward Jack Dempsey off a scrum with 1:35 left in the second period. 

“(The puck) was down there, and it just popped up and I took a shot,” said Dempsey, who added an empty-net goal with 15.2 seconds left in the game to seal the win. “I had to score. I knew I had to. Neither (Macomb L’Anse Creuse North or Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse) has won a regional title. This is indescribable.

“We’ve played with a lot of heart all season. We struggled, yeah, but everybody played hard all year. We all came to practice every day and worked hard, and now we’re here.”

Junior defenseman Jeff Deriemacker put Unified up 2-0 with 16:23 left in the third period. Deriemacker, who went to a national championship game last year with the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies, called the goal one of the biggest he’s ever scored.

“The atmosphere here was unbelievable. I think that played a big role in how we played,” Deriemacker said.

Unified got to the regional final with a 6-3 win over Macomb Dakota Feb. 29. Unified at one point in that game trailed 3-0.

“We let up some bad goals early in that game, but we talked and made some adjustments,” Nader said. “Our staff has been together for 10 years now, so we’re proud, but it’s mostly about these young men.”

Rochester United ends the season at 14-13. United in the regional quarterfinals bested Utica Eisenhower 6-5 in overtime, then beat Port Huron High 7-1 in a regional semifinal.

“(Rochester) is a good team,” Nader said. “They came to play. We knew it was going to be a fight. Our guys just battled like they have all year.”