Detroit Little Caesars’ Ty Similanic intercepts the puck during a Silver Stick PeeWee AAA hockey game Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at McMorran Pavilion.
Before playing in their Silver Stick quarterfinal game, Detroit Little Caesars AAA Pee Wee team went to defenseman Jacob Truscott’s house.
They put on the 2002 Stanley Cup final, a moment former Detroit Red Wing center and current Little Caesars head coach Kris Draper knows a little bit about. However, there is one memory that did slip his mind.
“I ended up missing an empty net against Carolina, and I forgot about that,” Draper said. “The kids were all over me for that.”
Hours later, Little Caesars had a two-on-one fast break in overtime against the North York Rangers. When Dominic James got the pass from Nick O’Hanisain, the left side of the net was wide open.
James didn’t miss the open net like his coach did 13 years ago, and his teammates sprinted off the bench to jump all over him in the corner of the rink.
After 48 minutes of hockey that saw brick wall-like goaltending from North York’s Nicolas Sangha, Little Caesars broke through in overtime to take the 2-1 win. A thrilled James summed up his game-winning feelings in just two words.
“Unreal — crazy,” he said with a unmistakable smile. “It was a great win for the team.”
Little Caesars will take on Chicago Mission at 8:30 a.m. Sunday at McMorran Pavilion. The Pee Wee title game will take place in the main arena at 2 p.m.
With six seconds remaining in the scoreless first period, North York sent a player to the penalty box. Nothing happened for the final ticks the period, but Little Caesars took advantage to start the second period.
When Carter Mazur’s shot bounced off Sangha, Marysville’s Tiernan Shoudy smacked the loose puck into the net to give Little Caesars a 1-0 lead.
Five minutes later the Rangers netted a power play goal of their own when Lee Chiang snuck his shot under Little Caesar goalie Cullen DeYoung’s right pad.
Notched at one-all, the game that was mostly played on Little Caesars’ attacking end saw a evenly played third period.
With five minutes remaining in regulation the Rangers had a three-on-one attack that had Detroit’s bench holding their breath and squeezing their sticks a little harder. However, the centering pass was flubbed, and the Little Caesars bench let out a group exhale.
Just 30 seconds later it was Little Caesars with a two-on-one advantage, but the Rangers got out of the tense situation with a save from Sangha. By game’s end, Little Caesars pelted 31 shots on net while North York fired off 14.
With just more than a minute remaining in the third period, Owen Michaels tripped up a Ranger to earn his place in the penalty box. DJ Dixon, Travis Shoudy, O’Hanisain and Truscott did a total of 90 seconds of the kill in the final minute of regulation and the first 30 seconds of overtime.
“You know what you’re going to get out of those four kids every kill,” Draper said. “They’re very aggressive and from there O’Hanisain had a huge block.”
Two minutes after the power play ended, O’Hanisain took the puck to the right side of the ice. He glided his pass to the left post while Sangha anticipated a shot, leaving James with a perfect chance at the game-winner.
“You want to see how they respond to these kinds of situations,” Draper said. “We’ve had some games that have been lopsided and this was a great opportunity and a competitive game by the Rangers. Their goaltending was outstanding.”
Contact Matt Sheehan at (810)-989-6267 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s on Twitter @Sheehan_Sports.
Silver Stick schedule at McMorran Place
Pee Wee game one, 8:30 a.m. at the pavilion
Pee Wee game two, 8:30 a.m. at the main arena
Bantam game one, 10:30 a.m. at the pavilion
Bantam game two, 10:30 a.m. at the main arena
Pee Wee, 2: p.m. at the main arena
Bantam, 4 p.m. at the main arena