Stevenson Hockey makes regional final with dominant win over Canton
Despite beating Plymouth 6-3 in the region’s first round, hockey head coach Livonia Stevenson David Mitchell saw room for improvement.
The Spartans worked Thursday to make adjustments on the ice, with the head coach praising his players for the job they did ahead of the regional semi-final.
And when they took the ice at Eddie Edgar Ice Arena Friday night against Canton, Stevenson (24-2-1) looked fresh, beating the Chiefs (14-12), 9-2.
After:Four-goal third period gives Novi the hockey semifinal victory over southern Lyon
After:Hometown Life Playoff Hockey Scoreboard
Stevenson will try to win his sixth consecutive regional title against Novi at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday at Eddie Edgar Ice Arena.
“We made some adjustments and I’ll tell you, I’m really proud of the kids for the adjustments they made,” Mitchell said. “They bought directly. This group is buying them and praising them for doing this.”
The Spartans scored three goals in the first period – one by Brandon Heard, another by Tanner Liptow, who managed a rebound by Jack Smith, and one by Smith with 10 seconds left in the period.
Two goals from second-year defenseman Adam Heard brought Canton’s deficit to 5-0 midway through the second period.
But Canton, under the guidance of first-year head coach Justin Maedel, started to snack.
A goal slapped on a power play from forward Hugo Fonovic and a sniper from Declan O’Hare from an angle seemingly parallel to goal brought the Chiefs within three.
However, all momentum stopped for the Chiefs at the end of the second period.
With 1:52 on the clock, Canton goaltender Ashton Queen was disqualified from the remainder of the game after kicking a Stevenson player near the goal, one of four penalties for the Chiefs in the second period.
“When you play in a playoff game like this, the emotions run high,” Mitchell said. “We just wanted to calm our guys down, let the refs handle the situation, which they did, and then it was about explaining to our guys to reset, refocus, stay on the green and d ‘execute a power play.
Hanging on to a five-minute major penalty chance, Stevenson took advantage as Ian Kimble found the back of the net for the sixth goal of the day.
With that, confident play returned for Stevenson.
Smith scored his second goal of the day on a breakaway, knocking out the substitute goalie and giving the Spartans a five-goal lead.
After falling into a row with Canton senior defenseman Ryan Buckley, Heard responded with his second goal of the day in the ensuing power play, which impressed Mitchell.
“He’s someone who will get a little emotional, but he stuck with himself and he played hockey tonight,” said Mitchell. “He responded with hockey games, and I was very proud of him and the whole team for doing that.
Carson Kleven ended the game for the Spartans with an exclamation mark, setting the day’s final goal on a high-time reel game that helped build momentum in the regional final.
After a game both high and very moving for the Spartans, Heard returns to the fundamentals. That’s what got Stevenson to this point and that’s what he expects to get Novi through on Wednesday.
“It helped everyone move the pucks to the open man and we were just getting stares,” Heard said. “I think not everyone was playing selfishly, just moving the puck and trying to put it in the back of the net.”