Howell upsets Brighton to advance to Division 1 quarterfinals
Howell’s 4-2 win over Brighton on Wednesday night at the Kensington Valley Ice House in a Division 1 Regional Final represents three things that haven’t happened in a long time for the Highlanders.
It had been 11 years since seventh-ranked Howell defeated No. 3 Brighton, five since it happened in the state playoffs and – most importantly – the first time since 2010 that the Highlanders will play in the state quarterfinals.
“It’s about time!” Howell goalie Ean Badgett told the Livingston Daily.
The Highlanders (18-10) will play L’Anse Creuse North (14-13) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Suburban Ice Macomb.
Stefan Frantti’s power-play goal with 2:36 into the third period broke a 2-2 tie. Brent Wolf added an insurance goal with 4:59 left.
“It feels really good to finally beat Brighton,” Howell senior captain Cam Nitschman said. “It’s been a long time. I’m glad to be a part of the team that finally did it.”
Howell’s last victory over Brighton was a 4-3 overtime win on Dec. 3, 2014. The last time the Highlanders beat the Bulldogs in the state playoffs was 2-1 in a regional semifinal in 2009.
“The kids earned this, but I’ve been telling you guys all season long, ‘Watch out for the Highlanders,’ ” Howell coach Rocky Johnson said. “These guys have come along and they’ve really taken it. They stepped up today.”
Brighton finishes the season 16-9-2.
“We’ve played a lot of games with 3-2 scores, that kind of thing,” Brighton coach Paul Moggach said. “A lot of our scores were close. If we didn’t play well defensively, we tended to not win those games. That’s what we did, especially in the third period, giving them the rushes off of mistakes by our defensemen. You can’t do that with a good team like Howell.”1
The Highlanders led 2-0 before the game was 10 minutes old as Nitschman scored on a breakaway (7:04) and Everett Pietila put in a rebound off a two-on-one rush at the 9:20 mark.
But the lead did not last long into the second period as Logan Mitchell put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard at the 49-second mark and Nate Przysiecki tied it 2-2 at 1:59.
Badgett, who made 24 saves, shut out Brighton the rest of the way.
“You’ve just got to get them out of your head and focus on the next shot,” he said.