Ann Arbor — Two perennial hockey powerhouses clashed Tuesday night at Yost Arena in the Division 2 quarterfinals with title aspirations on the line as Livonia Stevenson was looking to advance to its second straight semifinal and Trenton aiming for a second state title in three years.
Stevenson got the job done and took down Trenton for the second straight year in the state playoffs with a 2-1 victory.
Second-year Trenton head coach Chad Clements admitted his team struggled with the game plan throughout.
“Game plan was to get a strong floor check on, get pressure on and get shots,” Clements said. “We struggled. They were really fast and we never established a strong floor check.”
The game had the feel of a state final. Stevenson head coach David Mitchell knew this would be no cakewalk despite being a slight favorite, facing a school who is constantly involved in the championship conversation.
Trenton had made seven of the past 13 state championship games, winning six under now-retired head coach Mike Turner. The school’s hockey history is rich, claiming the Division 2 title 14 times and 11 in the last 30 years.
Stevenson came out firing, taking 16 shots on goal in the first period to Trenton’s three. Shane Leonard scored on a power play with 7:27 left in the first, giving Stevenson an early 1-0 lead.
“(The mindset was) to be aggressive and try to get pucks to the net and be the aggressor,” Mitchell said. “Trenton’s such a well-coached hockey team and their goaltender Joe SantAngelo played a great game and hats off to them for a great season.”
Grant McClellan responded to Stevenson’s score for Trenton (17-10-2) with 3:36 remaining in the second period to tie it.
Stevenson (21-6-1) answered with another goal by Leonard to give it a 2-1 lead with 13:35 left in the third, which ultimately proved to be the winner.
“It feels pretty good,” Leonard said of moving on. “We have some unfinished business to take care of.”
Stevenson advances to face Hartland in the state semifinals at 5 p.m. Thursday at Plymouth’s USA Hockey Arena.
“Our seniors are such a good class,” Mitchell said. “I’m so happy for (Leonard) and proud of him that in this moment, he made things happen.”
Connor Muldowney is a freelance writer.
Division 2 — Tuesday
Ada Forest Hills Eastern 2, Marquette 1 (3OT)
Hartland 5, Birmingham Brother Rice 4 (OT)
Romeo 8, New Baltimore Anchor Bay 3
Livonia Stevenson 2, Trenton 1
Division 1 — Wednesday
Rockford vs. Grandville at Ferris Ice Arena, 7 p.m.
East Kentwood vs. Brighton at Munn Arena, 7:30 p.m.
Saginaw Swan Valley vs. Detroit Catholic Central at Dort Federal Event Center, 7 p.m.
Utica Eisenhower vs. U-D Jesuit at Yost Arena, 6 p.m.
Division 3 — Wednesday
Hancock vs. Sault Ste. Marie at Lakeview Arena, 7 p.m.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central vs. Saginaw Heritage at Munn Arena, 5:30 p.m.
Detroit Country Day vs. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood at Farmington Ice Arena, 7 p.m.
Gibraltar Carlson vs. Chelsea at Yost Arena, 8 p.m.