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 L’Anse Creuse Unified senior defenseman Ethan Alwardt skates with the puck during a Nov. 27 win over St. Clair Shores Unified. L’Anse Creuse Unified lost 11 players to graduation last season.

L’Anse Creuse Unified senior defenseman Ethan Alwardt skates with the puck during a Nov. 27 win over St. Clair Shores Unified. L’Anse Creuse Unified lost 11 players to graduation last season.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


L’Anse Creuse Unified hockey working with new cast of characters

By: Jason Carmel Davis | C&G Newspapers | Published December 13, 2019

 L’Anse Creuse Unified sophomore defenseman Garrett Conrad handles the puck during a Nov. 27 win over St. Clair Shores Unified. L’Anse Creuse Unified’s next game is against Romeo High at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18 at the Mount Clemens Ice Arena.

L’Anse Creuse Unified sophomore defenseman Garrett Conrad handles the puck during a Nov. 27 win over St. Clair Shores Unified. L’Anse Creuse Unified’s next game is against Romeo High at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18 at the Mount Clemens Ice Arena.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The L’Anse Creuse Unified boys hockey team, comprising students from Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse and Macomb L’Anse Creuse North, lost 11 players to graduation from last year’s team, but coach Jon Nader said the current squad is playing admirably early on.

“We have a lot of new faces in the program … so we know we have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Nader, whose team sat at 3-3 overall and 0-1 in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division at press time. “We have 25 games to get them firing on all cylinders and ready for the state playoffs.”

Nader obviously wants the team to win as much as possible this regular season, but he’s willing to see the team take its lumps if it means it peaks at playoff time.

So far, Unified has shown flashes. The team has put up four goals per game, while allowing 2.3 scores per contest. Unified aims to hold the opposition to less than three goals per game for the entire season.

Fielding a strong defense will lead to more scoring chances too, Nader said.

“Offense starts with good defense,” he said. “We preach that all the time. Offense will come — crash the net and keep working hard.”

The team lost several players to graduation, but some returning skaters have taken it upon themselves to step up and lead the team, Nader said. That group comprises senior defensemen Cole Ringstad and Thomas Monte, and junior defenseman Jeffrey Deriemacker. Senior forwards Matt Vandelinder, Ethan Alwardt, Mason Abbate, Jack Dempsey and David Harrison, and junior forward Jack Majchrzak lead the charge offensively.

Working in new players hasn’t changed Nader’s expectations.

The coach expects his team, which went 16-8 last season, to contend for the Macomb Area Conference Red Division crown. He called the MAC Red a tough league full of great coaches. Unified finished one game out of first in the MAC Red last season — its first in the league. The program won the MAC White title in 2017.

“Every year is a new one, and we have to come together as a team and play smart hockey,” Nader said. “If everyone buys into what we’re asking, then good things will come.

“We’re optimistic and always setting challenging goals as a team. We have a great group of young men who won’t settle for anything less than their best, and as coaches, that is all we can ask for.”

Unified’s next game is against Romeo High at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18 at the Mount Clemens Ice Arena.

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