DETROIT – It was a picture-perfect day for hockey … outdoors.
Riding the buzz created 12 months ago by the Red Wings’ victory in the 2009 Winter Classic at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, a pair of Detroit area high school rivals – and an estimated 2,000 warm-blooded fans – ventured outside to brave the elements.
With temperatures in the mid-30s and not a ray of sunshine in the vicinity, Novi Detroit Catholic Central and its hockey archrivals, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood commemorated the 75th anniversary of their first hockey get-together with a varsity game – advertised as the 2010 Outdoor Classic – held at Clark Park in southwest Detroit.
There, in the shadows of the Ambassador Bridge that connects the United States to Canada, the Shamrocks and Cranes played the second game of a home-and-home series that began Saturday evening with CC claiming a 6-1 win at home.
Designated as Cranbrook’s home game, Sunday started out much the same as Saturday’s ended – with CC dominating for two periods en route to a 5-2 victory.
“Last night, 6-1, wasn’t indicative of that game,” CC coach Todd Johnson said. “We got three short-handed goals, I mean, that’s not going to happen against a (Cranbrook coach) Andy Weidenbach team ever again. You take those away and it’s a dogfight. We knew that it was going to be a battle today. I knew when we couldn’t get the third goal to make it 3-0 that they were going to pop something.”
Midway through the second period, CC (13-0-0) had built a 2-0 lead on goals by forwards Ian Jacobs and Austin Hervey.
But it didn’t take the Cranes long to strike back with a pair of goals of their own. Junior defenseman Tyler Waterman and senior forward Dakota Sherman scored less than two-minutes a part of draw the Cranes even heading into the second intermission.
“Cranbrook has a good team and they won a couple of key face-offs in our zone,” Johnson said. “I felt that within five-seconds the puck was in our net after we lost those face-offs. They took advantage of winning those draws and got it to the net and they went in.”
CC responded strongly in the third, not only scoring three times, but using their neutral zone trap to lockdown the Cranes (10-3-0).
“We had a good talk in the second intermission, and we knew that we had to jump on them early in the period,” CC senior goalie Zack Cisek said. “They’re a great team, so we had to jump on them early and give ourselves a nice little cushion.
“We trapped them well in the neutral zone. We play similar systems, so we kind of knew what was coming and we just stuck to our structure.”
The CC coaches used the second intermission to reminded their players of the enormous media coverage garnered by the Outdoor Classic.
“We told our guys that this game was going to be on TV and seen by their families for the rest of their lives,” Johnson said. “So what are you going to put on TV in the third period. They’ve got a lot of pride in that locker room and we have a lot of leadership. I was real happy with how they played.”
A trio of CC forwards finished the scoring with goals by junior Ryan Keller, freshman Charlie Green and senior Eric Winkler (empty net).
“They got a little bit of momentum with those two quick goals (in the third) and then they went into a defensive mode,” said Weidenbach, of the Shamrocks. “With these ice conditions you have to keep it simple, you’ve gotta get it in deep and if you try to handle the puck then bad things can happen. We weren’t able to get it in deep and that was part of the problem. But they did a good job of trapping us and I thought that we played well overall in the third. We just couldn’t get one by Cisek. He made some real good saves in the third period when he needed to.”