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Detroit Catholic Central holds off U-D Jesuit, advances to Division 1 Final for third straight year

Hockey   | Ben Szilagy

Detroit Catholic Central holds off U-D Jesuit, advances to Division 1 Final for third straight year

Plymouth — Last season the Detroit Catholic Central dedicated its season to teammate Matt Sorisho on the road to reclaiming a Division 1 championship crown.

This season the Shamrocks are still playing for each other, but they are also playing for pride, and the history of the program.

“Being a part of this program it something special,” first year Catholic Central coach Danny Veri said. “You see it all over the place when the alumni come back and attend games, and you feel it in the locker room. It’s an unbelievable pride when you wear this jersey, and you take the ice representing Catholic Central.”

The Shamrocks took a step closer to honoring their rich championship tradition when Catholic Central beat U-D Jesuit 4-3 at Compuware arena for the right to defend its crown.

“It seems like a dream, and knowing we get another chance to repeat history is pretty special,” Catholic Central forward Owen Kipke said.

The game didn’t come easy, however, with a back and forth first period where if the Cubs scored, the Shamrocks answered in kind each time the opportunity presented itself.

Jesuit struck first with 15:34 left in the first period on a power play goal by senior forward Christian Wirth-Karbler. The captain received a pass in the Shamrock end, and Wirth-Karbler offered a shot from the slot for a 1-0 lead in just seven seconds in the man advantage.

“It was a good start,” Wirth-Karbler said. “But, Catholic Central came right back, and made the game even.”

Making the game even was Catholic Central senior Ryan Burnett who tied the game three minutes later when he followed JoJo Mancinelli’s shot. When the puck bounced free, Burnett was there to put in the rebound for a 1-1 tie.

After Wirth-Karbler helped the Cubs regain the lead, 2-1, when his second goal went through the five-hole on a odd man rush midway through the first period, the Shamrocks answered on the power play.

Senior Evan Rochowiak ripped a shot from the blue line into traffic where senior defender Blake Veri was screening the net. The puck deflected off Veri and darted into the net for a 2-2 tie.

“We just stayed true to the structure of our offense, and we kept peppering the net. Good things happen when you’re able to do that,” senior Andrew Lane said.

The Shamrocks broke the tie apart with 12:34 left in the 2nd period when junior Kyle Mulka stayed with a shot that was loosely controlled in net. As the puck was bobbled, Mulka poked at it as he fell to the ice and puck crossed the end line for a 3-2 goal.

“We’re a second period team, and we always have been this year. We really start to get our legs underneath us, and our game starts to open up as we make adjustments,” assistant captain Ryan Burnett said.

Catholic Central received its fourth goal for a 4-2 lead thirty second later when Brian Kerns found the back of the net on a rebound with 11:58 left in the 2nd period.

As play became more aggressive, five total penalties were issued to both teams, including a five-minute major that was served by the Shamrocks with 9:39 left in the period. The Cubs’ Lorenzo D’Agostini cashed the power play goal to cut into Catholic Central’s lead 4-3.

That set up an exciting finish as more penalties were issued late in the third period. The Cubs had an opportunity with a 5-on-4 with 1:08 left in the 3rd P.

“Yeah opportunity knocked for us,” U-D coach Rick Bennetts said. “I was contemplating if we should pull Jack (Deines) or not. But I thought it was early, and we didn’t want to give up an empty net goal. We just didn’t get that chance.”

Catholic Central will play the winner of Grandville and Bay City on Saturday at 6p.m. for the Division 1 state championship.