By Jack Leech
Special to The Clarkston News
Plymouth — An epic clash of two of the bonafide powerhouses in Michigan Boys High School Hockey this season, as Clarkston and Detroit Catholic Central went head to head at the USA Arena, Jan. 13.
The top ranked Shamrocks seized the moment in a span of eight minutes and 32 seconds to tie and move ahead of the second ranked Wolves on the way to a final of 4-1.
Clarkston had the upper hand in the early moments of the first period, denying any shots on Clarkston netminder Calum Hartner, for over seven minutes into the first stanza.
Just past the halfway mark of the first period, Wolves defender Owen Croston head-maned a perfect pass to Tyler Wilford in the Shamrocks zone, who slipped a tape-to-tape pass to Ron Wade, at the Shamrocks doorstep, to bury a low shot past DCC goalie Kyle Moore, for the Wolves only tally.
The Wolves kept on the pressure for the remainder of the period and fired a total of seven shots on the DCC net. Hartner turned away 11 Shamrock shots.
In the second period, the tide changed considerably, with just over a minute elapsed, DCC forward Griffin Crampton, took a cross ice pass from Devesh KC to fire the puck past the outstretched pad of Hartner, to get DCC on the board.
Just a minute later, Croston was sent to the penalty box on a minor for tripping. DCC’s power-play responded when Jackson Walsh, slipped a pass across the goal mouth to Landon West, to give the Shamrocks the lead.
The flood gates opened with 8:36 remaining, when DCC’s Cael Rogowski added his squad’s third goal. It quickly got tougher for the Wolves, with just ten seconds lapsed, Joe Curtin closed out the scoring for the Shamrocks on the way to the victory.
“We got away from what has made us successful and a hard to play against hockey team.” said Clarkston Varsity Hockey Head Coach Nathan Bryer. “We have a word on our team. It’s ‘grit’ and when we lose battles along the boards and in the corners, we are watching the other team play their game.”
While DCC has remained at the top of the Michigan Hockey Coaches Poll all season, the Wolves have made a steady climb up the rankings ladder to earn their current spot at No. 2.
The Wolves brought their undefeated record to this game (11-0-1), taking their first loss of the 2022-23 season at nearly the halfway mark of the MHSAA hockey regular season.
In the 25-year history of the CHS hockey program, this is the best starting record and ranking of any of the previous seasons.
The last time the Wolves clashed with DCC in the regular season was 25 years ago, at the now demolished, Michigan State Fairgrounds. The final tally was a 3-3 tie and clearly established the newly formed Wolves hockey team as a force with which to be reckoned. The Wolves ended the 1997-98 inaugural season ranked as the No. 4 best team in the Division 1.
The Wolves next road contest took them to Royal Oak to faceoff with the M-1 Griffins, a unified team composed of players from Berkley and Royal Oak high schools and an OAA Red Division opponent on Jan. 14.
A hard fought battle with both teams goaltenders turning in outstanding backstops with a final of 1-1.
The Wolves opened the week against Chippewa Valley United on Monday, after this week’s publication went to print.
The Wolves remain at the top of the OAA league standings with a 5-0-1 record, just a game ahead of Rochester Unified, who will face the Wolves this Friday at the Suburban Ice Arena, 8:15 p.m.
The next home game is at the Detroit Skating Club, 888 Denison Court in Bloomfield Hills, on Saturday against the Midland Chemics, 4:15 p.m.
By Jack Leech