Detroit C.C. holds off U-D Jesuit, advances to fourth straight Division 1 title game
Plymouth – Detroit Catholic Central has found a way to accept a new coach, and still keep with program traditions over the past three seasons.
Despite the new faces on the bench, Catholic Central earned an opportunity to defend its state championship on Friday.
The Shamrocks used a two-goal surge late in the first period and they went on to defeat U-D, 4-3, in a Division 1 semifinal at USA Hockey Arena.
“We’d be lying if we said the situation didn’t bother us, but we stuck together and it made us stronger as a team,” senior Brian Kearns said. “Even though our coaches changed, we had the same core group of guys in our locker room. We were going to step up and now we’re at the perfect spot to win a state title.”
Catholic Central (23-7) didn’t want to play from behind and quickly took the lead 2:10 into the first period when senior Tony Esser offered a shot from the point. Fellow senior Sheldon Wasik was waiting in the slot for the rebound and lifted the puck top shelf for 1-0 lead.
The Cubs (16-8-5) came back with 1:21 left in the period when seniors Nick Gadowski and Austin Evans rushed into the Shamrock zone. Gadowski offered the puck to Evans who deked the goaltender and slammed in the game-tying goal.
The tie wouldn’t last long.
“We knew we had to get one back as soon as possible. We couldn’t let them back into the game,” Catholic Central senior Nick Macari said.
The Shamrocks recorded goals by senior JoJo Mancinelli and junior Zach Sprys-Tellner 30 seconds apart to close out the first period with a 3-1 lead.
“The game was still very tight,” C.C. coach Brandon Kalenicki added. “It didn’t feel like a 3-1 game at that point. That swing to get two goals in our favor was just killer.”
Catholic Central junior Michael Considine increased the Shamrocks’ lead to 4-1 late in the second period when he accepted a centering pass from senior Glynn Robitaille. As a U-D defender was draped over him, Considine scored from the slot with 3:23 to play in the period.
Even though their confidence level was high, the Shamrocks had their confidence tested late in the third period thanks to a costly five-minute major, and a misplay of a puck deep in their own end.
“You feel like you have control of the game, especially when its 4-1. We did a good job of killing off most of the five minute major, but they found one. A miscommunication near the net made it closer than we would have liked,” Kaleniecki said.
“It changes everything.”
Despite losing two key players from its power play unit, U-D found a way to score off a bounce with 7:07 left in the third period.
Senior Nathan Lee dumped the puck deep into Catholic Central’s end, rifling a shot to the end boards. The puck squirted out in front of the net where sophomore Brendan Gumble cashed in a power play goal and U-D trailed, 4-2.
The Cubs also capitalized off a miscommunication behind C.C.’s net when Sam Knoblauch intercepted a pass and found Evans for his second goal of the game to bring U-D within one, 4-3, with 4:12 remaining.
“We tried to get guys in the right spots. Sam Knoblauch was taped up pretty good, and Lorenzo D’Agostini was out with the flu for most of the game,” Cubs coach Rick Bennetts said.
“We still found a way to make it a close game. We have a good group of guys who gave it their all. They come from all walks of life, and hockey brought us together. We have tremendous young men.
“We just need to find a way to see what Saturday looks like from the bench instead of the stands."