David Mitchell has had a lot of success during his 10-year career as head hockey coach at Livonia Stevenson, and he is looking forward to seeing if his team can continue its special season Thursday night in a Division 2 regional semifinal against No. 8 Plymouth at the Novi Ice Arena.
No. 3 Stevenson (19-5) owns a pair of victories over defending Division 2 state champion and top-ranked Hartland, including a 5-2 win in the KLAA championship game Feb. 16 when Stevenson scored three goals in the final seven minutes to break a 2-2 tie, including power-play goals by Austin Adamic and Steve Hunt.
Stevenson won the Division 2 state championship in 2013, advancing back to the title game in 2015 with a loss to Birmingham Brother Rice and in 2016 to Romeo.
If Stevenson gets past Plymouth (13-14), it would play the winner of the Howell-Novi game in Saturday night’s regional final at Novi.
“We’re more balanced than we’ve probably ever have been since I’ve been here,” Mitchell said. “Austin Adamic has played forward and defense for us and has done very well. Our goaltender, Eric Polzin, has had a phenomenal year and Stephen McDonald on the back end has been very strong for us. A couple of our senior forwards, Josh Suzio and Patrick McGowan, have had good years, but it’s really come down to us having four lines that are all playing with a lot of confidence and has earned the trust of the coaching staff.
“We have so many players that have 10 points or more – really just a balanced approach and balanced team effort – and that’s been nice to see.”
Polzin, a senior, has a 1.90 goals-against average with a .920 save percentage.
Freshman defenseman Adam Heard has also played well for Stevenson. Heard’s brother Brendan is a sophomore forward, and Austin Adamic’s younger brother Ayden is a sophomore defenseman.
“It’s been huge to have the type of balance we do because in the playoffs who knows what can happen,” Mitchell said. “It’s a very close-knit group that really cares about each other individually and it shows in their play and it shows when certain guys do well. They’re excited for each other.”
Austin Adamic is proud of how his senior season has unfolded.
“It’s my third year so leadership is a big role for me, vocally and leading by example,” Adamic said. “I’m playing as a defenseman. I was originally a forward and now I go back and forth. Playing 'D' was a big adjustment at first, but I got the hang of it pretty quick. You get to see more of the ice. You’re behind everybody. You get to visualize everything so that’s pretty cool. I like playing point on the power play.”
Adamic scored his 12th goal of the season in an 8-0 rout of Warren De La Salle last week.
Adamic also scored the winner in a 3-2 road win over Hartland Jan. 25, then scored a power-play goal in the KLAA championship game win, also over Hartland.
Stevenson lost to Hartland in the state quarterfinals in 2017 and lost to Trenton at Yost Arena in the quarterfinals last year.
Senior forward Jaydon Spears is playing on one of Stevenson’s top lines with McGowan and junior Jaron Anderson, with Adamic joining sophomores Ian Kimble and Brendan Heard when Adamic isn’t playing defense.
“We’ve been sticking to our game plan, defense first, and when you play defense first you get offensive opportunities,” Spears said. “We won the KLAA championship, but our goal is to win the state championship.”
Spears’ season highlight was scoring a pair of goals in a win over Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in the KLAA-MIHL Showcase at Edgar Ice Arena in Livonia. He has 10 goals on the season.
State quarterfinal games are set for Tuesday and Stevenson would play one, if still alive, at the DISC (Dearborn Ice Skating Club) in Dearborn. Division 2 state semifinals will be March 7 at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth with the title games in all divisions on March 9 at the same site.