Livonia Stevenson makes a huge statement with rivalry win against TrentonHockey  |
Trenton - If Livonia Stevenson wasn’t on anyone’s radar entering Wednesday night’s matchup against Trenton, the Spartans are popping up on it now.
Stevenson scored four goals in the second period while defeating Trenton, 8-5, at Kennedy Ice Arena.
“We’ve been waiting for something like that all year,” Stevenson coach David Mitchell said. "We know we have some guys who can finish around the net. It was just nice to see them do that tonight. It was nice to see them get pucks around the net, and get rewarded.
"This game means so much. We’re in the same region in Division 2, and we’ve built up a rivalry with them. We have so much respect for Trenton; we want to become what they are. We want to have all the banners and emulate what coach Turner has done for so many years.”
Stevenson (9-4-3), trailing 3-1, responded to a quick score from Trenton sophomore Kenny Styles with an important goal of its own from Spartans junior forward Ben Kowalske. He scored to make it a one-goal deficit with with 9:13 left in the second period.
“My linemates helped out a lot. It’s a team effort. It’s hard to come out during the week and play a team like Trenton. It took some time to get our feet underneath us," Kowalske said, "but we stuck to what we know and it turned around."
According to coach Chad Clements, the momentum shifted when Trenton (8-6) sent four of its players to the penalty box, providing the Spartans with multiple man-advantages.
“We have to make some serious changes. It’s late in the season now. And if we don’t stay out of the box, we’re going to have a tough year. Our guys have to learn it or there is going to be a lot of nights like this,” he said.
With 5:40 left in the period, Stevenson scored its first power-play goal of the game off a deflection by junior Shane Leonard. He redirected Vince Glenn'a shot from the circle to tie it up, 3-3.
Kowalske scored a quick rebound goal during a five-on-three advantage. Senior Mick Sinclair rifled a slap shot through the five hole moments later for a two-goal lead with 1:35 remaining in the period.
“I give my assistant coaches credit for our special teams. Jay Thompson and Kyle Zagata have been harping on our power-play units every day in practice. They’ve helped guys get to their spots and do the little things that lead to goals,” Mitchell said.
Stevenson didn't let up, even after allowing a goal seven minutes into the third period. Trenton sophomore Brandon Morgan put the puck in the short side of the net to trim the margin to 5-4.
The Spartans got another quick response on a Glenn goal with 15:25 left in the period.
Later, Kowalske completed his hat trick on the power play.
Senior Mick Sinclair intercepted the puck in the neutral zone and started a two-on-one rush with Kowalske trailing the play. Sinclair dished it to Kowalske, who went backhand to give the Spartans a 7-4 lead.
“I can’t take the credit,” Kowaske said of his hat trick. “I got lucky. I was just in the right place at the right time. My teammates set me up so well and helped me get in good positions. It’s a team effort all the way.”
Stevenson senior Alex Hunt gave the Spartans an 8-4 advantage, before Trenton senior Phil Pugliese scored on a penalty shot with 1:07 left in the final period.
Stevenson’s players realize a big win like this one puts them on the map. The Spartans face off in another rivalry game Friday against Livonia Churchill.
“We know we’re putting ourselves on the radar by doing this,” Kowalske said. “We’ve played great teams all season, and we have to keep it up. There are no off nights.”