Detroit Catholic Central wins second straight Division 1 state title with 5-2 win over Grandville
Plymouth — At this time last year, Catholic Central senior Evan Rochowiak was sitting in the stands taking in a state championship celebration as his classmates piled on top of each after beating Brighton.
As he was sitting there, Rochowiak was thinking about what if scenarios and he grew a sense of jealousy the longer he watched the atmosphere unfurl before his eyes.
“It was nothing like what I experienced in midget-majors,” he said. “I wanted to play my senior season with the boys before I move on with my career. It’s my last year in high school, and I knew we were going to be a good team. I knew this squad was going to be special.”
This time around Rochowiak was apart of the celebration on the ice as Detroit Catholic Central repeated as Division 1 state champions with a 5-2 win over Grandville at Compuware Arena on Saturday.
The Shamrocks (24-5-1) had a solid first period as the fore-check worked to Catholic Central’s advantage early.
Junior J.P. Lafferty forced a turnover in the neutral zone and pushed the puck ahead to senior Ryan Burnett. After Burnett crossed the blue line, he offered a quick touch pass to junior JoJo Mancinelli.
The 5-foot-8 defensemen sliced his way through the Grandville defense, and offered a deke in crease that allowed him to score a backhand goal for a 1-0 lead with 13:53 left in the first period.
The Shamrocks built upon its lead with 6:24 left in the period when senior Dillon Jones found Andrew Spiegel camped near the goal in the Bulldogs’ zone. The senior quickly went top shelf for a 2-0 lead.
After Catholic Central built its lead, 3-0, on a goal by Luk Krasicky, the Bulldogs (24-4-2) went to work in the second period.
Grandville’s power play unit got on the board first with 3:10 left in the middle frame when Mitchell Parsons fired a shot that bounced off Spencer Wright’s pads. Jacob Baum caught the puck, and laid it on the ice before popping it in the net to cut into the Shamrock lead, 3-1.
Fourteen seconds later, the Bulldogs received another rebound goal, 3-2, from Gianni Vitale that rose the crowd to its feet at the two goal explosion.
“It was a huge momentum change for us,” Grandville coach Joel Breazeale said. “We’re traditionally a third period team. But for some reason this season, we have really scored more goals in the second period than the other two (first, and third). We were really close to knotting it up.”
Catholic Central’s Evan Rochowiak quickly stole the momentum back in the Shamrocks favor during the power play. With 1:50 left in the second period, the senior rifled a shot from the blue line that found the back of the net rebuilding the two-goal lead, 4-2.
“It was a great play by Blake (Veri), that set me up. When they were only one goal behind us, we were starting to get nervous. The goal definitely took the pressure off,” Rochowiak said.
The 6-foot-two senior’s memorable night wasn’t over, as Rochowiak found the back of the net with 3:10 left in the third period for his second goal of the game and a 5-2 lead that sealed the Bulldogs fate.
“It’s unbelievable, and hard to describe (the night) really,” Rochowiak added. “It was probably my best decision to come back, and help my team win another title.”
Catholic Central hadn’t won a back-to-back state title since 2009-2010, and Saturday’s win is the Shamrocks’ 16th state championship in program history.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Highlights from this game can bee seen on Sunday on Fox Sports Detroit at 9:00 AM