Jenuwine’s goal gives Romeo its first state title, 6-4 over Livonia Stevenson
Plymouth — Move over Romeo football, you have company.
Member of the Romeo hockey program stated on Thursday that they wanted to “shock the world” and they did just that on Saturday at USA Hockey Arena. Romeo beat Livonia Stevenson, 6-4, to capture its first hockey state championship in program history.
“It feels incredible,” Romeo senior Nick Blankenberg said. “Before the game, we told ourselves if our football team can beat (Detroit) Cass Tech with 20 division one players, we could beat Livonia Stevenson.
“Being a part of all of this, this team, and shocking the world is incredible.”
Three times Romeo (27-2-1) had to kill off a five-minute major penalty in the semifinals. On Saturday, however, the Bulldogs capitalized off of one midway through the third period.
Senior Logan Ganfield walked along the point until he could blast a shot into goaltender Cullen Barber’s line of sight. Logan Jenuwine deflected the shot in front of the net for a 5-4 lead with 10:34 left in the game.
“Mental errors are huge,” Romeo coach Nick Badder said. “We tried to capitalize off the call. I didn’t see the head butt that led to it, but we need to capitalize off it and we did.”
Romeo did get an empty net goal from senior Steven Morris, but the game before that point was a complete back-and-forth affair, and the Bulldogs looked to take the first period, like it had on its way to the state finals.
With 9:53 left in the first period, Romeo struck first.
Jenuwine chipped the puck ahead to fellow senior Luke Kaczor. As Kaczor crashed the right side of the net, he slid the puck to junior Brett Lanski who punched in the 1-0 goal.
Stevenson (22-7-1) tied the game at 1-1 three minutes later on an odd man rush. Senior Shane Leonard created a turnover in the neutral zone, and moved the puck to Ben Kowalske who raced into the Romeo end. Kowalske passed the puck to Joe Alcantara who fired a shot that trickled in with 6:05 left in the period.
Jenuwine scored on the power play with 10:41 left in the second period to give Romeo a 2-1 lead before Stevenson’s offense took over.
The Spartans rattled off three goals in five minutes by seniors Nick Beers, Shane Leonard and Nate Sudek.
“The momentum swings are what you get when you play high powered offense,” Stevenson coach David Mitchell said. “We got a lead and maybe we took the foot off the gas. But, those guys got pucks to the net and got guys through. That was the story of the game.”
The goals had Romeo reeling, and Badder knew he had to settle his team down and he immediately called a timeout with 5:21 left in the second period.
“That timeout we went over three things that we needed to focus on: heart, focus, and stick together. They all kind of matched up to the game. We were down and they had all the momentum,” he said.
“We had to calm down the boys and refocus our team. We needed to play shift by shift to get back in it.”
Whatever was said in the huddle worked as Romeo’s players responded the rest of the second period and tied the game, 4-4, on goals by Lanski and Kaczor.
Romeo’s program is in its 15th season. This is Badder’s second as head coach. The crowd, the atmosphere, and feeling of winning a state title will only propel the Bulldogs going forward.
“There is something special about Romeo. We’re a small community, and you could see it out there. The entire town was here for us,” Romeo goalie Nolan Kare said. “With the support we have from our community, we can be special for a very long time.”