Thursday, March 2, 2017
Pioneer High School
Skyline High School
The Eagles beat Pioneer in a heart-stopping contest on Thursday night at the Coliseum to earn their first ever trip to the regional finals, which will be played Saturday night against Saline at the Cube.
First period action saw the Eagles come out looking as aggressive as they have looked all season as they played physical and took play to the Pioneers. Strong puck possession and smart passing frustrated the Pioneer defense, but as happened in the first game of the playoffs against Huron, the opposing team drew first blood against the Eagles as they converted with 6:13 left in the period to make it 1-0 Pioneer. The Eagles showed their resolve however, as they dug deep and continued with their game plan. Two minutes later, Noah Bradburn was high-sticked in the face by a Pioneer player, and Skyline was on the power play. Just one minute into the power play, Bradburn put a shot on net and CJ Bahr buried the rebound to tie the game at 1-1. Then, only 24 seconds later, Hank McMillin sent a shot in from the point that fooled the Pioneer goal tender and went in to give Skyline their first lead of the night 2-1.
The second period saw the Eagles pick up where they left off as Bahr assisted on an Isaac Lippert power play goal 5 minutes into the middle round. Bahr gathered the puck behind the Pioneer net and sent a pass back to Lippert, who beat the Pioneer goalie cleanly with a perfectly placed shot into the corner of the net. Skyline was up 3-1 and were rolling. A couple of shifts later, Lippert scored a nearly identical goal when he picked up a rebound of Miles Roberts’ shot and beat the Pioneer goalie again to make it 4-1 Skyline. This proved to be the winning goal, but Pioneer was not about to roll over and play dead. Just a little over 1-1/2 minutes later, Pioneer scored a power play goal as Skyline had two players in the penalty box to chip away at the Skyline lead, making it 4-2. With 1:52 left in the period, Pioneer once again scored a power play goal to make it a one-goal game 4-3, and setting up an exciting final period.
The third period saw a lot of action, but no goals for either team as the goalies made tough saves at both ends of the ice. Pioneer was able to pull their goalie for the extra attacker during the waning minutes of the game and had some really good opportunities to send the game into overtime. Skyline senior goalie Sergei Harvey made several timely saves to maintain the Skyline lead, not the least of which came with only 6 seconds left in the game as Pioneer pressed fom the game-tying goal. The puck came out to the point and Pioneer was able to get a clean, rising shot away, but Harvey was able to keep his body square and his eyes on the puck to make the biggest save of the season thus far look routine. The ensuing faceoff was corralled by defenseman Luke Lippert and he was able to maintain possession as time ran out and the Eagles’ bench emptied out onto the ice to celebrate around goaltender Harvey.
Harvey made 21 saves on 24 shots. The Eagles had 44 shots on net.
The Eagles play for the Division 2 Region 16 championship at 7:00 this Saturday against the Hornets of Saline at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube. The Eagles beat Saline 4-3 in overtime in their only meeting of the season on January 11th, so this game promises to be a barn-burner as the two teams renew animosities. Be sure to show up to support your Eagle icers during their playoff run.