Novi Detroit Catholic Central’s hockey program is doing a good thing.
In February, they’ve scheduled a game against Grandville High School in Grand Rapids.
They played Grandville in last year’s state semifinals. The morning of the game, Grandville team captain Ryan Fischer was found dead. (He died of an enlarged heart.)
Grandville decided to play as scheduled, and both teams showed incredible sportsmanship during the emotional game, which CC won.
The trip up to Grand Rapids is on Feb. 6 and 7. On that Friday, CC will play Forest Hills Central at the Patterson Ice Arena at 8 p.m. On Saturday, it’s the “Ryan Fischer Legacy game” at Van Andel Arena prior to the Grand Rapids Griffins game at 1:30 p.m.
The Grandville community has set up a Ryan Fischer Legacy Scholarship, and members of the CC hockey community attended the first annual golf outing in Fischer’s honor on Sept. 13.
“I think we’ve built a solid relationship with their program,” said CC Athletic Director Aaron Babicz. “We feel a special bond with the team and community and are honored to celebrate his life through this event.”
The scholarship is expected to give $2,500 each year to a student-athlete displaying Fischer’s characteristics.
The Shamrocks have a different coach from last year’s state championship team.
The CC coaching carousel has included former coach Todd Johnson, who stayed on the staff last year under Doug Itami, and now the team has an interim coach in Danny Veri. Johnson and Itami are no longer in the program.
Babicz cited “philosophical differences” regarding Itami’s departure and said the school would take its time in finding a new coach.
Catholic Central (10-0-1) has gotten off to a fantastic start with just a 1-1 tie to powerhouse Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook the only blemish through 11 games.
“Tying Cranbrook is nothing to be ashamed of,” said Veri. “Andy (Weidenbach) does a tremendous job with that program and gets the most out of his players. They are one of the top teams in the state despite being in Division 3.”
Veri cites the leadership of his four “outstanding captains” as the reason for the team’s early success.
“This is a hard-working group,” said Veri. “I’ve coached quite a few of them since they’ve been at Catholic Central as freshmen and sophomores.”
Senior defenseman Andrew Lang, senior forward Ryan Burnett, senior forward Mitch Ossowski and senior defenseman Owen Kipke are the heart of the team.
“The one thing I can tell you is they have a collective head on their shoulders,” said Veri. “No one has gotten too big. I tell every boy after every win ‘Tonight’s game is like the Civil War, it is history.’ It means nothing.
“My four captains are all excellent leaders. Andrew Lang will do anything to win as far as blocking shots, sacrificing his body in corners. It doesn’t matter what it is. A sheer character leader.
“The other guys are the same way. They would run through walls for each other, for their team, for the school. I’ve been coaching 20 years and these are four very good leaders.”
The Shamrocks have a difficult schedule coming up with games against Rochester, Birmingham Brother Rice, Livonia Stevenson and Trenton.
“There’s a phrase ‘iron sharpens iron,’ ” said Babicz. “So that’s how we’re looking at the schedule.”
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @farrellperry.