Detroit C.C. earns chance to repeat title in D-1 hockey

Blake Meakin
Special to The Detroit News
Detroit Catholic Central’s Mitch Ossowski (16) plays the puck in front of the U-D Jesuit net.

Plymouth — Two second-period goals propelled Detroit Catholic Central to a 4-3 victory Friday over U-D Jesuit and into the MHSAA Division 1 hockey final at Compuware Arena.

Catholic Central will play at 6 p.m. Saturday against Grandville to try to repeat as Division 1 champion.

"It seems like a dream. Now that we have another chance to make it a reality is an unreal feeling," Catholic Central's Owen Kipke said.

It held a lead for most of the second and third periods, but almost let it slip away with late penalties.

"I think I got a little grayer," Catholic Central coach Danny Veri said. "It was intense, but we had our guys out there and we were OK. It wasn't the first time this year we'd been down."

U-D got on the board first. Just eight seconds after a Catholic Central tripping penalty, it won a faceoff and the puck found the stick of Christian Wirth-Karbler, who ripped U-D's first shot past Spencer Wright and into the net with just under 1:30 gone in the game.

Catholic Central (23-5-1) equalized just minutes later after a rebound in front of the net hit Ryan Burnett and rolled under Jack Deine's pads.

Wirth-Karbler got his second goal and restored the lead for U-D (22-7-1) after a pass from Teddy Apap on a two-on-one break. His shot hit Wright but fell under his pads and rolled into the net with just over nine minutes left in the first period.

But C.C.'s Blake Veri tipped an Evan Rochowiak shot on the power play to even the score at 2-2 with just under four minutes left in the period.

Catholic Central took its first lead of the night on another power play early in the second period when Kyle Mulka found the back of the net. Thirty-six seconds later after a scramble in front of the U-D net, Brian Kearns popped in another to make it 4-2.

Just as it did in its quarterfinal win over Troy, Catholic Central sent wave after wave of attackers against U-D, heavily outshooting it.

A five-minute major penalty was assessed to Andrew Spiegel of Catholic Central midway through the period, however, and seven seconds later, Lorenzo D'Agostini ripped a shot from the top of the faceoff circle into the net, cutting U-D's deficit to one.

U-D eventually took a 5-on-3 advantage for just over a minute but couldn't score the tying goal.

The final period was quiet with Catholic Central mostly defending its own end and icing the puck.

U-D gained a man advantage late on a hooking penalty with 1:08 left in regulation, but that penalty was nullified just 20 seconds later when U-D was called for a head check.

U-D coach Rick Bennetts believes his team just wore down.

"We're used to playing in arenas that are cold," said Bennetts, explaining that Compuware Arena's temperature was much warmer than his team is used to.

"We had no way to cool down," he said. "We felt that we were fortunate to be 2-2 after the first period."

Blake Meakin is a freelance writer.