MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. — The home crowd got to see just about everything in Saturday night's Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League matchup between visiting Cranbrook and host De La Salle Collegiate.
There were plenty of goals. There were plenty of penalties. And there were some exciting plays on both ends of the ice.
But many in attendance of the nearly-packed crowd at the Mount Clemens Ice Arena were there to help celebrate Senior Night for the Pilots. Despite what ended in an 8-4 loss to the Cranes, the final-year players felt the love from those in attendance.
Eight seniors were honored, joining their parents on the ice during pregame festivities. They included Larry Lavigne, Jacob Frederick, Matthew Rodgers, Austin Cooley, Jack Kosloski, Nicholas Twombley, Easton Knott, and Thomas Bechtell. Rodgers is the captain of the Pilots. Frederick and Knott are the alternates. Twombley leads the team with six goals and he and Bechtell share the team lead with eight points each.
On Saturday night, Twombley picked up that team-leading sixth goal. His tally helped the Pilots keep the game close early on. It came late in the first period and tied the game at 2-2. The game stayed that way for the first eight minutes of the second period before Cranbrook broke the tie on a goal by junior Jack Wineman. Despite being outplayed in that period, it looked as if De La Salle would survive it - until Cranbrook struck again with just 6.9 seconds left in the period.
"It was a one-goal game with six seconds left to play in the second period. Now it's 4-2. They come out in the third and that's when I felt like we kind of fell apart," coach Nick Badder said. "We've got to work on that attention to detail. Like it's the last minute of a period. You've got to go finish it out. We didn't have a good period, we were dominated on the ice. We nearly survived that second period, but we had a mental error and now we're going the opposite way."
Cranbrook did not relent in the third, scoring the next three goals to take a 7-2 lead.
De La Salle did not roll over, however. Sophomore Jack Rivera's goal (from sophomore Robert Vanderdonck) cut the lead to 7-3. One Crane goal later, Rivera scored again, this time on the power play off a pass from Frederick.
"Today, the score did not reflect our effort," Badder said. "In some past games, it has. But in this one, I thought we were right there, for the most part.
"You just can't take a shift off against these good teams because they'll just score."
Avery Petri scored the first goal of the game for the Pilots, just 3:25 into the game. It gave De La Salle an early 1-0 lead. Sophomore Matthew Rimas had two assists in his team's loss.
De La Salle committed nine penalties in the game. Three of Cranbrook's goals came on the power play, with a fourth coming just seconds after one expired.
"We can kill maybe one or two (penalties), but when our penalty kill is out there for an extended period of time, we're in trouble," said Badder, talking about his team taking five penalties in the third period alone. "That's what we're going to hammer in practice this week, is our PK. At this point in the season, and it's almost February, if we take penalties, our penalty kill has to be good."
The Pilots return to the ice Friday night, when they host Trenton in a MIHL South division matchup, back at the Mount Clemens Ice Arena.