• Michigan

Trenton catches a break, defeats Brother Rice on late goal, 3-2, in a D2 semifinal

By: Ben Szilagy, March 8, 2018, 10:52 pm

Plymouth — Trenton doesn’t believe in things like destiny or happenstance.

In fact when you ask the Trojans about the coincidences that keep adding up for the team during this playoff run, they will just shrug it off.

“No. Nope. I’m not reading into it,” Trenton Coach Chad Clements said when he was reminded of Trenton winning state titles every four years (2010, 2014) and the coincidence of this being year four of a title drought.

“Our quest continues. Brother Rice has an amazing staff, and kids who battle hard. We just got a lucky bounce tonight.”

Maybe fate isn’t real, but the funny story lines seem to be continuously adding up for the Trojans as they eliminated defending Division 2 champion Birmingham Brother Rice, 3-2, on Thursday at the USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth.

It even took a funny bounce for the game-winning goal for Trenton (20-8-2), which will play Hartland in the final on Saturday at 10 a.m.

With 11:09 left in the third period, Trojan senior Justin Litchard blasted a shot from the point. The puck took a fortunate bounce off the end boards and hit Brother Rice goaltender Pierce Cadieux’s leg and crossed the end line for a 3-2 lead.

“When you throw things at the net good things happen. I don’t know if it went wide, or what, but I saw the puck came back and trickle over the goal line,” Litchard said.

“I wanted to make sure the referee saw the puck there, so I pointed it out to him as I was crashing the net.”

Trenton never trailed in the game as Brother Rice was chasing the puck continuously throughout the game.

The Trojans secured a 1-0 lead with 10:42 to go in the first period when Devin Dunn backhanded a rebound in the crease. Five minutes later, the Warriors tied the score when sophomore Alex Andoni completed a one-timer from Dylan McNulty.

Dunn earned his second goal of the game in the second period when he deflected a hard shot by James Boyd in front of the net for a 2-1 lead.

“I just wanted to get the lead back, and the crowd back into it. I don’t like screening the net; I don’t think anyone likes it. But a goals a goal, and I’ll do what it takes to help my team,” Dunn said.

Late in the period, with 4:09 left, Brother Rice senior Dom DiPonio ripped a shot from the point to tie the score, 2-2.

Both Brother Rice (16-13-1) and Trenton were peppering the goaltenders all night long exchanging shots. Sophomore Joey Cormier for Trenton stopped 37 shots, while Cadieux stopped 21, and played near perfect games.

Luck just wasn’t on the Warriors’ side with the last goal.

Coach Clements doesn’t believe in coincidences. He and his team does, however, believe in hard work. And, that hard work pays off.

“The six seniors we have been really working hard for this. We’ve been trying to get the younger guys to buy into the system and motivate them to keep playing,” Litchard said.

“We know what people have been thinking about us since the playoff started, especially on Tuesday against Stevenson. We are going to work hard, and trust the guys we have to get wins and be ready to play every night. Saturday will not be any different.”

The last time Trenton played on the final day of the season was in 2014 against Hartland under legendary coach Mike Turner for the program’s 14th state championship. Trenton and Hartland will play again in the two team’s first trip back to the finals since that meeting. Whether it’s fate, or coincidence, or happenstance, things just have a funny way of working out that way.