Twenty-four seconds changed the fate of rivals U-D Jesuit and Novi Detroit Catholic Central, which met for the second time this season with the winner advancing to the Division 1 championship game today at Plymouth’s USA Hockey Arena.
Two goals within 24 seconds late in the first period proved to change the momentum of the game in Detroit Catholic Central’s favor, leading the Shamrocks to a 4-3 victory.
“Yes, two mental lapses,” said U-D Jesuit coach Rick Bennetts. “You score a goal and claw and scratch your way back in and get caught on the offensive side of the puck two times. … You can’t do that against a program like that. They’re dynamic, they’re deep, they’re well-coached, they’re skilled.”
Playing for its third coach in three years, CC will try to make it three straight state titles today at 6 p.m.
“To come back and be able to represent my school is great, but I want my seniors to win their last game,” said first-year coach Brandon Kaleniecki, who played at CC. “Momentum swings in these type of games are huge.”
U-D won the regular-season battle, 2-1, nine game into the season.
“The last time we played them they jumped out on us with two early goals and we couldn’t catch up,” said Kaleniecki. “We had pretty good control of it and then they get a five-minute major.”
CC wasted no time getting on the board Friday with senior forward Sheldon Wasik lighting the lamp at the 14:50 mark with assists going to Anthony Esser and Austin Roell to give the Shamrocks a 1-0 lead.
While the scoring chances were scarce in the first period, the action was end to end. The Cubs had a chance to tie the game on a breakaway by Maxim Denomme, but he shot the puck wide with about 5:30 left in the first period.
U-D finally got on the board by taking advantage of a two-on-one rush with Austin Evans tying the game with assists from Nick Gadowski and Tommy Apap with just 1:29 left in the first period.
The good feeling didn’t last long as the Shamrocks closed the period with a rush. First senior forward Joseph Mancinelli untied the game with a goal with an assist from Kyle Mulka to make it 2-1. Then 24 seconds later, CC made it 3-1 on a score from junior defenseman Zachary Sprys-Tellner.
“They got the goal and we knew we had to get it back as soon as possible so we could get that momentum back in our favor,” said CC’s Nick Macari. “We buckled down and worked hard the last couple of minutes of the period.”
Both teams had just nine shots on goal in the first period, but the Shamrocks made theirs count in an amazing penalty-free first 20 minutes.
The Cubs’ chances for a comeback were hindered when Denomme, a playmaker, went out with an injury around the 8:45 mark of the second period.
While he sat, junior forward Michael Considine made it 4-1 with assists from Glynn Robitaille and Cody Borke with 3:24 on the clock.
The first penalty occurred with just 12:04 left in the game on a slashing penalty by U-D’s Chris Meininger. Seconds later, Sam Knoblauch was injured along the boards and had to leave the game as CC’s Brendan Cleary was hit with a boarding and game misconduct penalty.
Denomme would eventually return and assist on Brendan Gumbel’s goal to make it 4-2, and the Cubs made it close when Evans scored his second goal with 4:12 left.
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @farrellperry.