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Dragons edge out Clarkston for OAA Red title



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The Dragons pose with their well-earned OAA Red hockey trophy after the hard-fought 2-1 win against Clarkston on Jan. 27. Photo submitted (click for larger version)
February 01, 2012 - Lake Orion took the ice at the Detroit Skating Club on Jan. 28 against rival Clarkston and, after a hard-fought 2-1 overtime win, claimed its second consecutive OAA Red Division championship trophy.

The game, one of two played last week - the other a 3-1 non-league win over Waterford Mott - was highly anticipated by both teams and communities, as the stands filled to the brim with excited fans.

Hard hits, strong goaltending, flashy plays and power play goals were met with rapturous cheers and noise.

"On the whole, you couldn't ask for a bigger game," said first-year Head Coach Nick Field. "The crowd was a big factor in this game and we couldn't ask for more from the fans.

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"Clarkston played well and we can't take anything away from them. The first period we carried the play a little more, in the second they brought it back and in the third we did the same. We were just more fortunate to come out on top."

The first period ended scoreless, but with 2:57 left in the second Clarkston scored a power play goal when the puck ricocheted off a Lake Orion defender into the net. The Wolves' score silenced Dragon fans, while the Clarkston bleachers exploded.

The Dragons, however, scored their own power play goal halfway through the third period when junior David Otto found the net to tie the game.

Senior Justin McKelvey scored the game winner when he fought off a Clarkston defender, cruised down the right wing and buried the puck in the wide side of the goal just over a minute into sudden-death overtime.

Despite the rivalry, the two teams played a fairly clean game with only four penalties called - two for each team. Coach Field attributed the display to discipline and both teams' will to win.

"Over the course of a game with two good teams, kids just don't put themselves out of position much so they never have to make desperate plays," he said. "If you're not playing as a unit, you can find yourself where you're not supposed to be, which leads to desperate plays which leads to penalties.

"Coincidently, two goals scored in the game were on power plays so while there weren't many penalties, they played a large part in the outcome."

Both Field and Clarkston's Head Coach Bryan Krygier complimented the goaltenders in particular, with Krygier believing the game's MVPs were Lake Orion's senior goalie Drew Galasso and Clarkston's Jack Viazanko.

Galasso made a total of 21 saves to Viazanko's 27.

Field added that "if goalies don't come up, big you cannot have a good chance at winning games" and said his team was able to depend on Galasso to make big saves all season.

The win leaves Lake Orion undefeated in the OAA Red with a record of 5-0-2, with Field explaining overtime wins or losses are recorded as ties in the OAA, since not all ties during regulation go into overtime. The win, however, does count in the team's overall record, making the Dragons 11-5-1.

The upcoming MAC OAA Showcase starts on Feb. 4. Lake Orion is the No. 1 seed among the OAA teams. They will begin play against the Macomb Athletic Conferences's No. 1 team, St. Clair Shores, at the Rochester Onyx Ice Arena.

They then play at the Chelsea Arctic Coliseum in the Michigan Public High School Hockey Showcase on Feb. 11, which involves more than 50 teams.

Field said he is looking forward to the chance for his team to play some of the clubs the Dragons do not usually get to play against. He also mentioned the probability of scouts to be present at the game because of the high concentration of Michigan teams.

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