By “The Big D” Derek Wark
Brother Rice High School is appropriately named. The “Big Brother” of the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League North Divison proved once again why the Warriors are not only the best team in the MIHL North but also, arguably the most dominant team in the entire MIHL. Our Port Huron Northern Huskies had no answer for the onslaught that the 7-1-1 Warriors brought to McMorran Arena on Tuesday Night (Jan. 7th) as Brother Rice skated away with a dominating 8-2 victory. In my opinion, the Huskies came out with a strong effort throughout the first period and were still forechecking hard in the third but it was the in-between that was really the deciding factor, thereby securing the eighth victory in ten games for Brother Rice in the early stages of the 2019-20 Varsity Ice Hockey Season. THE BIG D announced this game for Port Huron Schools TV and here’s how he saw the game …
One thing Northern did extremely well in this game was kill penalties as the Huskies played much of the opening period in the box. A five-minute major for boarding would usually bring down anyone when facing a team as talented as the Warriors, but to Northern’s credit, they opened the scoring with a shorthanded beauty as Forward – Chad Noetzel skated in on a breakaway and deked Brother Rice starting Goalie – Cooper Duncan, barely tucking it through the five-hole for the 1-0 lead. Although at this point, the Warriors were heavily outshooting PHN, all that mattered was the scoreboard which showed PHN’s advantage! Unfortunately, it was short-lived as Ryan Murphy and DJ Dixon both answered for Brother Rice. Although the Warriors were up a goal after one, I think the Huskies felt pretty good about themselves as, clearly, the score could have been a lot worse and this was an excellent job of penalty killing against one of the best teams the Huskies will face all season! Shots on goal told the story as the Warriors had the 15-3 advantage after the first period, 23-9 after two and 36-19 overall. I also thought Port Huron Northern Goalie – Steven Fleet had a great opening period and was keeping the Huskies in the game at this point. Unfortunately, as Brother Rice continued to pepper the shots Fleet’s way, the goals began to follow.
The second period was completely opposite to the first. Brother Rice had just eight shots compared to six for Northern, yet the Warriors pounced on the Huskies scoring four goals despite Brother Rice spending much of the second period in the penalty box, just as Northern had done in the first. Alex Andoni, Nick Marone, Alex Hamady and Matthew Herb all scored for Brother Rice as it was 6-1 after two. In my opinion, Nick Marone was the standout offensive skater for Brother Rice for much of the night. Marone demonstrated great puck control and strong skating through the neutral zone all night long!
Brother Rice came out scoring in the third as Jay Frye and Alex Hamaday each popped another goal to give Brother Rice the 8-1 lead…but to Northern’s credit, they never stopped working hard. I thought the third period was PHN’s best BY FAR effort-wise. Much of the reason for that was their improved forechecking, which was led by Forward – Cameron Barlass who had a nice overall game despite being held off the scoresheet. There were too many times throughout this game that Brother Rice won easy puck battles both along the boards and deep in the Husky end. I thought this was the best period for Northern assuring that didn’t happen as often and Barlass seemed to be the Husky giving the most fight in that area. This forechecking surge from the Huskies led to one last goal as Jerimiah McCue stole the puck, walked in on another breakaway, picked his spot and hit it in the back of the net, beating Warrior third-string goalie – Matthew Hackman. Although scoring both the first and the last goal of this game were some of the lone bright spots for Northern, clearly it was nowhere near enough as the Warriors earned their eighth win of the season.
The Brother Rice Warriors were just too much for our Port Huron Northern Huskies on this night. It’s one thing to say that PHN just couldn’t match them in terms of talent but most teams would have trouble with this Warrior attack. They really clear their own end well, they set up strong offensive rushes and they keep the puck in the center of the ice offensively as well as anyone. They were also way more aggressive and won way too many puck battles along the boards throughout the course of the game. I do however credit the Port Huron Northern Huskies for their aforementioned forechecking and also yet again, their penalty kill in the first period which is certainly something to hold their heads up about as their difficult 2020 MIHL Schedule rolls along. Congrats again to the Brother Rice Warriors as year after year they never seem to let up. Big Brother indeed.