By Jim Newell
The Lake Orion hockey team has had a stellar season thus far, winning a league title and amassing a
Now, the Dragons are headed to the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Division 1 Region 6 Semifinals where they will face Macomb Dakota at 7:55 p.m. Thursday at the Detroit Skating Club.
The Dragons earned a bye for the first round of regionals.
Macomb Dakota is in fourth place in the Macomb Area Conference Red at 3-6-1 and 4-11-1 overall.
If the Dragons beat Dakota, they will play in the Region 6 Finals on Friday, though who they could potentially face is still undetermined.
L’Anse Creuse North is 9-1 in the Macomb Area Conference Red and 12-3 overall and plays Utica (0-6 in MAC-Red, 4-10 overall) in the first round of regionals. The winner goes against Rochester Adams (4-4 OAA Red, 10-7 overall) in the Region 6 Semifinals on Thursday.
Lake Orion has defeated Rochester Adams, 6-4, in the regular season; while Adams beat L’Anse Creuse North 3-1 on Feb. 26.
On March 9, Lake Orion beat Birmingham Groves 5-4 in overtime to clinch the Oakland Activities Association Red (division) title. Three nights later, Lake Orion had a commanding 4-1 win over Groves.
However, the Dragons had a tough night against rival Clarkston, in an intense game where Lake Orion had nothing to win and Clarkston had nothing to lose.
Lake Orion (5-1 OAA Red, 10-5 overall) lost the final game of the regular season, 4-3, to Clarkston on Saturday. The win was Clarkston’s (1-3-1 OAA, 6-7-1 overall) first league win of the season. Lake Orion previously defeated the Wolves 4-2 in the first game of the season.
Lake Orion senior forward Bradley Angus started the scoring for the Dragons at 14:21 of the first period, with an assist by senior forward Kade Manzo. (Note: hockey periods are 17 minutes and count down, so the first goal came at 2 minutes, 39 seconds into the game.)
Clarkston countered at less than four minutes later when sophomore Devon Collis, assisted by senior Mathew Phaneuf, tied it at 1-1.
After the faceoff, it took about seven seconds for Kade Manzo to put the puck in the back of the net and put the Dragons up 2-1. Senior forwards Brendan Finn and Brendan Bajis assisted on the goal.
Clarkston again came back with 7:11 left in the first, tying the game at 2-2 on a goal by senior Tate Phares.
Clarkston controlled much of the second period and took the lead, 3-2, when sophomore Blake Botteril scored for the Wolves.
The Dragons managed to tie it 3-3 with 2:53 left in the second. Junior defender Griffin Sutherland got the goal, assisted by Manzo and Angus.
It took a mere 32 seconds for the Wolves to counter and score with 1:35 left in the second to go up 4-3.
Despite a back-and-forth, high-intensity third period, neither team was able to capitalize on their chances.