Northville defeats Dakota, 6-2, to reach state semifinals for second time
Dearborn - Northville came out on Wednesday with something to prove to the remaining Division 1 teams in its quarterfinal game against Macomb Dakota.
“We saw headlines about how comfortable Dakota was heading into tonight. We wanted to make them uncomfortable as quickly as possible,” Northville senior Dan McKee said.
The Mustangs did just that thanks to a big first period as Northville defeated Dakota, 6-2, to advance to the state semifinals for the second time in program history.
Northville (22-6-2) will play Brighton at the USA Hockey Arena on Friday at 5 p.m.
“We like to have the chip on our shoulder, and we liked to be overlooked. We knew we’d have a nice team that can skate with anybody,” coach Clint Robert said. “Tonight we wanted to put pucks in nets, and bodies in nets because good things happen when you’re able to do that.”
The Northville barrage began with the Mustangs on the power play with 10:58 remaining in the first period.
Junior Jack Sargent intercepted the puck in the neutral zone, and walked it into the Cougar end. After he skated around a defender’s impending hit, Sargent ripped a shot to the left corner for a 1-0 lead.
Two minutes later, senior Nick Bonofiglio received a pass, offered a deke, and went five-hole for a 2-0 Northville lead. Thirty seconds later junior Danny Scorzo scored the Mustangs’ second power play goal of the period for a 3-0.
“We really, really have focused on our power play the last week and a half,” Robert said. “The guys simply executed.”
Dakota (15-11-2) earned a power play goal of its own when Connor Fredrick ripped a shot from the point and cut into the lead, 3-1, with 3:23 to play.
Northville answered 40 seconds later with the first of two goals by senior Dan McKee for a 4-1 lead.
“Our back-up goalie Collin Smith was giving me words of wisdom before the game to help me out,” Mckee said. “You always want scoring chances, but you don’t expect to get more than one in a game like this.”
Robert added that the team wanted to be gritty and ugly as the playoffs marched on. The kids took that to heart in the second period despite giving up a goal 1:03 into the period to defenseman Luke Dacey that cut into the lead, 4-2.
After that goal the Mustangs surrendered only two more shots on goal in the period, and another three in the third period. Shots on goal favored Northville, 35-17.
Northville added two more goals in the second period when McKee received a pass from Bonofiglio and quickly put away his second goal for a 5-2 lead. Senior Nate Czarnota added the final goal late into the second period when he blasted the puck from the point, through traffic to the far side for a 6-2 lead.
Reaching a semifinal for the second time in the program’s 20-year history is an achievement that hasn’t sunk in yet to the players or staff.
“It’s nice to get more public schools in the final four, and that we have two KLAA teams (Brighton is the other) is even more special,” McKee said. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet though. At the beginning of the year we didn’t have team chemistry, and we had a lot of new kids on the team.
“Now the game has slowed down, and we’re just rolling at this point. We know the job isn’t done.”