February 22, 2012 - Despite losing in the semifinals of the Oakland Activities Association Red Division tournament to Clarkston, varsity head coach Dave Hague was pleased with how well his team performed in the tournament.
Oxford would lose 5-2 to the Wolves on Saturday, Feb. 18.
"That game could have (gone) either way...a couple bounces that didn't go our way and a couple bounces that went their way and ultimately it was the difference in the game," Hague said.
For the game, the Wildcats outshot Clarkston 30-26.
Scoring for Oxford were seniors Dean Couwlier and Garrett Kovacic.
"I'm disappointed we aren't playing for a league championship this weekend, but at the same time, it wasn't by a lack of effort," he said. "We played well. We played really well."
The Wildcats started off the tournament with a 5-1 victory over Farmington on Friday, Feb. 17.
"We use the word compete level all the time, but our compete level was at a season high that night," Hague said. "It was real impressive to see the boys work that night, they played real well."
"They beat us pretty good in the regular season, so it was a good bounce back game for us to play," he added.
Farmington took a 1-0 lead in the first period, but it was all Wildcats after that as they scored five consecutive goals.
Scoring for Oxford was junior Connor Novack, senior Nolan Chapman, freshmen Steven Fowler, Jimmy Wallington and junior Stephan Frtiz.
Hague said the game was "very physical."
"There wasn't much room on the ice," he said. "We had guys sacrificing and blocking shots. We were real strong in the neutral zone, which was a big focus of ours going into the playoffs."
Hague noted Brennen Orr played outstanding during the game.
"He was blocking shots. He took a slapshot in the ribs when going down to block a shot," Hague said.
Hague pointed out Orr fell ill following a shift in the second period because he was exhausted, but still went right out for his next shift when called.
"That is the type of kid he is," Hague said. "Its no wonder he wins defense MVP for the football team and is in the discussion for our team as well. Just an absolute winner."
Hague noted it wasn't just his top line scoring in the tournament. It was the entire team.
Oxford has a chance to wrap up third place in the tournament on Saturday, Feb. 25 when they skate against Rochester United.
"All things considered, playing for a third place game is still a good opportunity. We're a small school in this division. All these teams have large JV program and cut guys from the JV team every year, and here we have three freshmen on our team playing a significant role every single night," Hague said.
"We came into this league last year and no one thought we could do much and we won the (White) division. We come into this division here, and no one thought we could really do anything in this division here especially," Hague said.
"We had a goalie that hadn't played goal in several years and here were are very much in a semi-final game with a great opportunity to win it," he added.
The Wildcats ended the regular season with a 4-2 victory over Lapeer United on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
"It wasn't our best game, but I was happy to come away with the win," Hague said.
According to Hague, the team started the game with good energy. However, he described his team's play as "sloppy."
"Guys were working hard at the beginning of the game and I think there was some inconsistency with the officiating that was causing a lack of flow in the game," he said. "Ultimately, it got pretty sloppy."
Oxford's six seniors - Couwlier, Chapman, Nick Hocker, Chad Wicker, Anthony Boreo and Kovacic- were honored for their years of dedication.
"We have six seniors with a combined 19 years of hockey experience," Hague said. "All that says is that we have guys who have put a lot of time in this program."
"It's a class that has had a lot of impact here," he added.
Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.