HAZEL PARK, Mich. — De La Salle Collegiate had its share of moments this hockey season. No one can deny that.
But all too often, the team struggled to put it all together. Unfortunately, that was the case Saturday afternoon, as the Pilots put together two solid periods of play only to see it unravel in the third period of a 6-1 loss to Grosse Pointe South in a Division 3 regional semifinal at Viking Arena in Hazel Park.
"I thought we executed our game plan well. We needed to play off. They weren't adjusting that well," Pilots head coach Nick Badder said. "We honestly just had two breakdowns. We don't score on a breakaway in the first and we don't score on a penalty shot in the second. If we score on those goals, the whole game changes."
De La Salle lost to the Blue Devils twice in MIHL play this season, both by the final score of 8-0. On Saturday, the Pilots struck first. Sophomore Jack Rivera — off an assist from senior Nicholas Twombley — scored with 2:20 remaining in the first period to give his team a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, that lead lasted just more than 1:20 before South tied the game at 1-1. Junior Aaron Vyletel evened things up, with seniors Alex Stapleton and Brian McKenna picking up assists, as the game went into the first intermission all square.
South wasted no time taking the lead in the second, as senior Alex Miciuda skated right up the middle and scored an unassisted goal to give his team a 2-1 lead. De La Salle battled hard, with sophomore goalie Andrew Parmentier making save after save to keep his team in the game, trailing by just a goal after two periods. Parmentier stopped 45 of the 51 shots he faced in the game.
The Blue Devils made it a two-goal game just over two minutes into the third period on a goal by senior Adam Strehlke, then quickly added another, as Vyletel scored his second of the game to make it 4-1. De La Salle drew a South penalty three minutes later and pulled Parmentier to give it a 6-on-4 advantage. But it was the Blue Devils who would score the next goal, a short-handed empty-netter by Strehlke to make it 5-1. They would tack on another with just more than five minutes to play to complete the scoring.
"I thought they worked hard the whole game but it came down to execution and not capitalizing on our opportunities," said Badder, whose team finished the season 4-21. "We didn't generate any offense (against South), but we knew that going in that it was going to be tough."
Still, the coach was happy to see his team execute its game plan, something the Pilots didn't do all that much throughout the season.
"(Today), we stuck to our systems and it worked," Badder said. "We just had to execute. I feel like our effort was there every game, but our mental game was in and out."