Country Day finishes strong to take 2nd straight D3 state title
After a slow start at Plymouth Township’s USA Hockey Arena Saturday, Detroit Country Day came roaring back to win its second consecutive Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 state title with a 4-1 decision over Houghton.
The Gremlins took a 1-0 lead just 56 seconds into the game when Seth Francois opened the scoring against DCD star senior goalie Sam Evola, last season’s Mr. Hockey, with a spectacular effort. As Francois skated across the high slot area from the right wing side to the left, he was forced to his knees as he stretched to hold onto the puck but still let go a wrist shot that beat Evola.
The slow Yellowjackets start continued for the first half of the period.
“We haven’t started good in any game throughout the playoffs,” Country Day coach Frank Novock said. “We never got flustered, and we stuck together.”
The Yellowjackets (23-5-2) tied the game with 1:37 left in the opening period on Lucas Krol’s first goal of the contest. He beat Houghton goalie Jimmy Pietila with a slap shot from the left point – his off side (Krol is a right-handed shot). Country Day also had a 13-4 lead in shots.
“I thought for the first five minutes we played very well, but as time went on, Country Day began to take over,” Gremlins coach Corey Markham said.
Dallas Hood gave the Yellowjackets the lead for good, 2-1, with 1:20 left in the second period.
He carried the puck down the left wing and cut across the high slot towards the right wing. As he reached the inside edge of the top of the right circle, he let go a wrist shot against the grain that beat Pietila on the long side.
Mickey Van Antwerp scored a back-breaking goal to make it 3-1 2:01 into the third period. He put in a loose puck less than a minute after Country Day had killed off a 5-on-3 disadvantage, helped by a couple of big saves from Evola.
“That was a big penalty kill there,” Van Antwerp said. “And then Logan (Gotinsky) took it down the ice and gave it to me in front of the net and I put it in. A big goal.”
It was Van Antwerp’s third goal in two days. He scored twice in the Yellowjackets’ 3-1 semifinal win over East Grand Rapids.
Gotinsky had two assists and Krol got his second goal, into an empty net, with 52 seconds left to clinch it. Evola made 25 saves.
The goalie compared the two straight state championships. “They’re both are about the same,” he said.
Meanwhile, it was a tough loss for Houghton (23-6-1) that was made even tougher by the fact that the Gremlins wanted to win it for the Houghton-Hancock area, which was devastated by flooding over the summer.
“Our community is just so special. Our community supports us,” said Houghton senior defenseman Kevin Bostwick, who broke down in tears as he spoke. “It hurts really bad that we’re not bringing it (the state title) back home for them.”
Pietila made 23 saves for the Gremlins, who defeated Gabriel Richard 8-0 in a semifinal on Friday.