Chelsea hockey team scores 3 third-period goals, wins regional title; Pioneer eliminated by Hartland
It took a while longer than expected, but the Chelsea High School hockey team found a way to erase a third period deficit and beat Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, 4-2, and advance to the MHSAA quarterfinals.
With just over six minutes left in the second period of Saturday’s Division 3 regional final at the Arctic Coliseum in Chelsea, the Bulldogs found themselves down 2-0, having just surrendered a goal after a sloppy pass through center ice.
Chelsea coach Don Wright used his only timeout to settle down his players, and light a fire in their skates. Four goals later, the Bulldogs were making travel plans for a quarterfinal game Wednesday at Allen Park Civic Arena against Allen Park or Grosse Ile.
“I thought the biggest issue was we just weren’t using our speed,” Wright said. “Once we got our feet moving, we started getting pucks in the net.”
Their feet started moving immediately after the timeout and 28 seconds later Taylor Athcley fired a wristshot past St. Mary goalie Zacary Cherney making it 2-1. To that point, Cherney had looked unbeatable, having already made 20 saves. Cherney would finish with 34 saves on the day.
“He’s really a great goalie. He’s one of the reasons why we were able to compete on a nightly basis,” said St. Mary coach Kyle Kirkpatrick.
Still trailing 2-1 entering the third period, Chelsea went on the attack early and nearly tied it within the first minute. Brad Hepler found himself skating in alone on the wing and hammered a puck on net. Cherney was up to the task, however, and kept it a one-goal game.
But 4:36 into the period, Chelsea’s Connor Carry went five-hole on Cherney to tie it at 2-2. Just over three minutes later, Kody Johnson would score again, sending the Bulldog fans into a frenzy.
It was Johnson’s second goal in as many games and would end up being the game-winner.
Joseph Hewitt would ice the game with an empty-net goal at the 14:14 mark.
“We knew what we were trying to work on would work. We just needed to keep working at it, and we did,” Johnson said. “It’s definitely frustrating, but we just gotta keep our nose to the grindstone.”
Senior captain Anthony Catalina said his team never abandoned the game plan and that was a major factor in why his team won.
“We just had to keep working hard and putting shots on net,” said Catalina, who finished with two assists.
With the lead, Chelsea was able to force St. Mary to attack, something that was unsuccessful for the Falcons all game. They managed just 15 shots on goal.
“I thought we limited their chances, which was nice, but when they did get their chances, we broke down,” Wright said in reference to the two goals by St. Mary.
Having not seen St. Mary this season, Chelsea was very basic in its defensive approach.
“We were really just trying to get up and out, trying get past their forecheck so we could get our breakout going,” Johnson said. “The less time it’s in our zone, the less time they have to score.”
St. Mary opened the scoring just 3:35 into the game on a rebound in front by Derek Zdanowski. The Falcons' second goal came when Elijah Owens intercepted a pass at center ice and was able to skate in on Chelsea goalie Chris Boyd. After making the initial save, Boyd was unable to stop Patrick Nicholson on the rebound, making it 2-0.
“We got a couple of good bounces and cashed in on a few opportunities,” said Kirkpatrick. “Unfortunately I think that the numbers hurt us. We only have a couple lines and an extra kid. I think they wore us down a bit.”
During the course of the game, the Falcons lost three players due to injury as Brenden Shatley, Chad Cousino and Anthony Fanola (who had an assist on the first goal) all exited the game.
“We were just trying to hang in there as long as we could," Kirkpatrick said. "I give my guys 100 percent (credit) for playing and keeping it a game until the very end.”
While winning the regional championship was one of the teams goals, Catalina and his teammates aren’t satisfied just yet.
“It’s a big deal, it's one step closer to the state championship, which is where we want to be,” Catalina said. “It’s a real nice victory for us and we hope to go out there and win another one to keep the season going.”
Ryan Daavettila scored two goals and Chris McRae added an empty-net goal with eight seconds left in the game to give Hartland a 3-1 win over Pioneer in a Division 1 regional final Saturday at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube.
"The boys played hard tonight, but the puck just didn't bounce our way," Pioneer coach Paul Fessbender said. "They were able to kill off most of our power plays, which is our biggest strength, and that was the big difference in the game."
Robert Bondy scored the only goal for Pioneer (16-11) in the third period, cutting the Hartland lead to 2-1. (Boxscore)
Nick Wineka made 22 saves for Hartland. Spencer Peck made 31 saves for Pioneer.
Hartland (10-8) advances to play Grosse Pointe South in the Division 2 quarterfinal on Tuesday at The Cube.