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Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham

March 9, 2013

Cranbrook hockey back on top

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Cranbrook's Sam Miletic moves the puck into Sault Ste. Marie's zone during the D-3 final. CK won 4-2, claiming its eighth hockey state title since 2000.

PLYMOUTH — Something this routine couldn’t be tolerated, not at this stage, not in this game.

A 2-0 lead was nice, but to give up a goal, to even give an opponent the slightest bit of hope, seemed utterly intolerable for the Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood hockey team.

So, as they have all playoff, the Cranes shifted things to another gear.

As they have all season, the guys in their throwback sweaters instilled some old-fashion dominance.

By the time the gloves and helmets landed back on the ice, the celebration was on, and the Cranes were on top of the high school hockey world — again.

“Every state championship is so unique. Every team is so special,” coach Andy Weidenbach said after his team won the 2013 Division 3 state title with a 4-2 victory against Sault Ste. Marie Saturday afternoon at Compuware Sports Arena. “We were ranked No. 1 for most of the season, and when that’s the case, everyone outside your dressing room roots for the underdog. … But the journey to this point is the best part of every season.”

Trailing 2-0 roughly halfway through the second period, Sault Ste. Marie finally found the back of the net, momentarily shifting momentum and getting its crowd back in the game.

That’s when Alex Alger went to work.

Less than 80 seconds after the Blue Devils cut the deficit in half, Alger put CK up 3-1 with a play built on equal parts speed and power.

Exactly 1:16 later, he slammed home a perfect pass from Michael Romund for a power-play tally.

“It really helps to bounce back from a goal the way we did,” Weidenbach said. “They had the momentum. To come right back was huge for us.”

The Cranes led 4-1, and never looked back.

Austin Alger scored at the 8:11 mark of the first period to get CK on the board. Kevin Shand made it 2-0 at the 7:23 mark of the second.

Sault Ste. Marie got goals from Alex Teneyck in the second and Chase Gamelin in the third.

Cranbrook, which earned a spot in the finals by winning its five previous playoff games by scores of 10-0, 8-0, 11-0, 7-2 and 7-0 in a semifinal win against Riverview High, snapped a mini-title drought, claiming the first state championship for the program since 2010.

None of the nine seniors on the current roster were part of that team.

“You couldn’t ask for a better way to go out,” said Alex Alger, one of the nine seniors. “This team achieved so much.”

The Cranes closed the year with a 28-2-1 record, ending the winter on an 11-game winning streak.

Asked if this was his best team ever, Weidenbach just smiled, saying, “I’ll let you guys decide that.”

“In the 20 years I’ve been coaching, this is definitely one of the most skilled teams I’ve ever had,” he later added. “We had three-and-a-half lines that could really play. Most teams have one or two, at most. … Teams like this don’t come around that often.”

Sault Ste. Marie, which beat Flint Powers Catholic 4-3 in two overtimes in its semi, ends its season 22-9-0.

The state title is the eighth for Cranbrook since 2000.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.