Cranbrook-Kingswood rolls to D-3 title
Plymouth – Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood got on the board quickly and never looked back in defeating Houghton 4-0 on Saturday for the Cranes' second Division 3 title in three seasons and 17th overall.
In a game featuring the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in Division 3, the top-ranked Cranes were up 3-0 with just over eight minutes gone and the game looked like it wasn't going to be close at all.
Houghton hung in there despite being outmatched and outshot throughout, but couldn't get any real attacks offensively to get back in the game.
Just 42 seconds after the puck drop, Mason Schultz got a rebound off a Sean O'Leary shot and buried it in the upper corner to give the Cranes a 1-0 lead.
"Getting one early just really calms the nerves for someone who hasn't played at Compuware (Arena) before or a freshman who doesn't have that much playoff experience. It really helps settles everyone down," said the Cranes' Cooper Stahl.
Houghton coach Corey Markham said, "The last thing we wanted was them to score an early goal. They put us on our heels and they had such tremendous speed, and we had to make quick decisions and we could never quite recover from that."
The Cranes doubled their lead, again off a rebound with just over 10 minutes left in the first period. Cole Adaskaveg took advantage when a shot by O'Leary was stopped by Marcus Gloss, but a lucrative rebound was right there to be tapped in by Adaskaveg, making it 2-0.
The lead became 3-0 just over a minute later when John Wagner ripped a shot from the point that was tipped by Blake Rogow and went past everyone and into the net.
"We got a couple good bounces," said Cranes coach Andy Weidenbach. "The bounces ended up on our stick. Sometimes they go our way, sometimes they don't."
A five-minute major penalty was assessed to Cranbrook's C.J. Regula for boarding late in the first, which took some of the pressure off the Houghton net and gave Houghton some offensive options, but the period ended 3-0.
The second period began with Cranbrook still down a man for over three minutes, but you wouldn't have guessed it by watching the game as the Cranes regained control of the pace with only four skaters on the ice.
There was no scoring in the second but the Cranes kept piling on the pressure and outshot Houghton 38-8 through two periods.
"They made it really tough to see the puck, and even if I could see it, they tried to deflect it," said Houghton goalie Marcus Gloss. ":I'm not quite sure if I was as ready as I should have been. I didn't quite expect such a quick start."
Kingswood (25-2-4) increased its lead to 4-0 with 13:05 left in the third on a tic-tac-toe play with passes from Austin Alger to Cooper Stahl to Regula, who fired the puck past Gloss.
While Houghton (24-5-2) was outplayed, Gloss was nevertheless impressive with 46 saves.