December 07, 2011 - By Joe St. Henry
Against Farmington, Lake Orion dominated early, opening up a 3-0 lead. Photo by J. St. Henry (click for larger version)
Lake Orion's varsity hockey team found its scoring touch last week in two big OAA league wins.
The victories over defending league champ Farmington and Stoney Creek came after the team split two close, low-scoring games against Traverse City West and Warren De LaSalle in a Thanksgiving holiday tournament in Traverse City.
"You start to worry if your team is not getting scoring opportunities," said Head Coach Nick Field. "Early on, we were getting chances, but not finishing. We really didn't do anything different in our last couple of games – we continued to take shots and the puck just started going in."
Against Farmington last Thursday on home ice, the Dragons scored three times in the first period – twice in less than 30 seconds – to take control of the game, which Lake Orion won 5-1. Senior Brad Bogus scored the team's first two goals off rebounds. Later in the period, senior Dylan Rosen scored on a power play.
"We took advantage of some early scoring chances, with the guys crashing the net," Field said. "That's a tough area to get goals, but we practice that every day."
Farmington scored early in the second, but the momentum was snatched back by Lake Orion with under a minute to play in the second period, when senior Shane Stockwell scored. Nick Balavich scored in the third period to cap a three-point game. Goalie senior Drew Galasso turned away 14 shots.
On Saturday, Lake Orion traveled to Rochester to play Stoney Creek and won again, 4-1.
According to Field, the Cougars controlled play for the first five or six minutes of the contest, but the Dragons' defense stepped up to thwart the home team and kill its chances of building any momentum.
"There were a lot of penalties in the game and that seemed to kill any flow," the coach said. "But, we did take advantage of them and scored on both a power play and also short-handed."
Balavich and Stockwell both finished with a goal and two assists, with Bogus and freshman Ryan Szydlowski also added tallies. Sophomore Logan Aldrich started in goal and stopped 19 shots.
"All we ask our goalies is to make the saves they are supposed to make to keep us in the game," Field said. "Both have played well for us and are steady in the net."
Over Thankgiving weekend, Galasso stopped 19 shots to shut out Traverse City West, en route to a 1-0 win. Balavich scored Lake Orion's only goal in the first period.
In their second game, the Dragons faced off against Warren De LaSalle, a perennial hockey powerhouse in the state. The contest was a physical back and forth game, with Lake Orion coming up one goal short 3-2. Lake Orion was led by senior Trevor Knight, who got a goal in the second period. Rosen blasted a slap shot from the top of the circle to score, as well.
So far, the team has played to the coaching staff's expectations, with its offense coming around and defense playing strong, Field said, noting Lake Orion has only given up 10 goals in six games.
The hockey team plays two non-league games this week. Lake Orion travels to Howell's ice rink on Thursday to play what the coach thinks is one of the better teams in the state. On Saturday, the Dragons play at home against Plymouth at 8 p.m.
"Our non-league schedule was purposely set up to play quality teams," Field said. "We want to compete against these tough opponents in hopes that it will make us better for the playoffs."