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February 26, 2014

Rochester United uses consistency to earn second straight Red Division title

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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Guys on the Rochester United hockey team celebrate a goal at the bench during a game earlier this winter. The team went 4-0-2 in Red play and won its second straight division title.

ROCHESTER HILLS — In a league with such parity, where the balance of competition is as tight as it is strong, Craig Staskowski has found the key ingredient to set his Rochester United hockey squad apart.

“Consistency,” the United coach said last week. “Teams in this league are as good as we are. It just comes down to not having that bad night against anyone. We’ve found ways to avoid that.”

And in doing so, United has reaped the benefits.

Twice over, actually.

On Feb. 19, United capped league play in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division with a 4-0 victory against Farmington Hills Unified.

The win gave Rochester the 2014 Red title and a successful defense of last year’s crown.

“When you play in this league, and in such a competitive division, this is something to be proud of,” Staskowski said. “To do it back to back is even more impressive.”

United began the state playoffs Feb. 25, after press time, but the first goal of the season, according to Staskowski, is always claiming a league title.

His guys did just that, thanks to a 4-0-2 record in the Red, one year after going 5-2-0 in division play.

“I don’t think it’s an individual or one group,” Staskowski explained of his team, which ended the regular season 19-3-3. “It’s a total team effort. That’s what I love. We have good goaltending. Our defense got stronger as the year went on, and our forwards found ways to put pucks in the net with some real timely goals. Even the games we tied, we found a way to tie things in the last five minutes.”

Staskowski called the Feb. 19 victory a “fun night.”

His guys had little time to truly celebrate, though, with the state playoffs just a week or so away.

“The ultimate goal is to make a run in the state playoffs,” he added. “But for us, it all starts with winning the league. That was goal No. 1, and it was accomplished.”