Richard tops Riverview for regional hockey title

Richard goalie Drew Adams had shutouts against Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, Carlson and Riverview during the regional tournament. Photo by Larry Caruso

Hank Minckiewicz

The battle for the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 regional hockey championship at the Yack Arena on March 4 came down to the battle of Riverview, with Gabriel Richard taking on crosstown rival Riverview.

And it turned out to be Richard’s night as the Pioneers cruised to a 6-0 victory before a big crowd that filled the Yack.

The Pioneers outshot the Pirates in every period and outplayed them. After a scoreless first period, Richard dominated on the scoreboard, too, scoring three times in the second period and three more in the third.

The win handed Richard the regional championship – its third straight – and boosted the team into the D3 state quarterfinals against Chelsea, which won its regional final game 1-0 over Livonia Churchill. The quarterfinal game was played March 7 in Dearborn.

After the regional round the other six teams remaining in the tournament were Midland Dow, Grand Rapids Catholic, Calumet, Gayord, Detroit Country Day and Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett. Country Day won the Division 3 state title in 2018 and 2019..

The 2020 Division 3 state semifinals are March 13 and the championship game is March 14 at USA Arena in Plymouth.

Last year the Pioneers beat Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard in the quarterfinals and lost to Houghton in the state semifinals; and in 2018 coach Rick DeSana’s team beat Chelsea in the quarterfinals and lost to Churchill In the semifinals.

The victory over Riverview on March 4 capped a bold and decisive march through the regional tournament for the Pioneers. Gabriel Richard won three games, all by shutout.

The regional championship looked like it was going to be another close one- or two-goal game like most Richard-Riverview battles. Richard outshot Riverview 10-6 in the first period, but it was a scoreless game.

That changed early in the second period when the Pioneers swooped into the Riverview zone and freshman James Monks scored his first of two goals with an assist from Nate Palumbo.

A minute later Riverview tried to answer from  scramble in front of the Richard net, but goalie Drew Adams – Mr. Shutout – calmly made the save. Adams wound up stopping all 22 shots he saw in the game and all 62 he saw in the regional tournament.

Midway through the frame Richard went on a powerplay, but it was largely ineffective and, as often happens in that case, after the penalty ended Riverview responded by taking control. The Bus carried the play and held the puck in the Richard end for two or three minutes, forcing several icing calls as the Pioneers began to scramble.

But the complexion of the game changed again when defenseman Jake Emery hit Nathan Vazquez with an exit pass. Vazquez entered the Riverview zone and challenged a collapsing Pirate defense. He dropped a pass to Austin Harrison who beat Riverview goalie Josiah Dembrosky with a high shot.

A minute later, Vazquez set up Richard’s third goal. He circled near the bueline, cut to the net and fired a shot. Dembrosky made the save, but Sebastian Potter was there to knock in the rebound.

The goal forced Riverview to call timeout to regroup.

If Riverview had any thought of a third-period comeback, they were dashed early. Less than three minutes into the final period, Harrison collected a loose puck at center ice and carried over the Riverview blueline. Using the Pirate defensemen as a screen, he snapped a hard shot that beat Dembrosky cleanly.

Riverview’s final two goals came into an empty net because, well, desperate times call for desperate measures. Riverview pulled Dembrosky with 7:12 to play in the game and two minutes later Palumbo shot the puck the length of the ice into the empty net.

Later in the game, with a Richard player in the penalty box, Riverview pulled the goalie again and this time Monks found the goal from long distance.

Richard reached the regional championship game with a pair of shutouts.

The Pioneers beat Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 4-0 in their first game and dominated Carlson 6-0 in their regional semifinal. Carlson had reached the semifinal with a 3-2 win over Wyandotte in double overtime.

Richard toyed with Carlson in their semifinal game, outshooting the Marauders 50-14.

Potter had two goals in the game and four other Pioneers also scored. They were, Harrison, Emery, Vazquez and Gavin Fink.

Four different Richard players scored against SMCC. Potter and Vazquez each had a goal, as did Brebnden Paden and Monks. Harrison and Emery each had a pair of assists.

Adams earned the shutout in each game, stopping 26 shots against SMCC and getting all 14 against Carlson.

Riverview played a pair of close games on its way to the championship contest.

The Pirates beat Temperance-Bedford 2-1 on opening night and held off Grosse ile 4-3 in the semifinals.

Riverview fell behind the Red Devils 1-0, but scored four straight times to take a 4-1 lead into the third period before the Grosse aile team roared back to make a contest of it late in the game.

Luke Lenden, Tom Dunne, Aiden Gazbecki and Gavin Holmes scored for the Pirates. It was Gazdecki’s goal that stood up as the game-winner. Both Gazdecki and Holmes had two assists.

Holmes and Jake Geleden were the goal-getters in the win over Bedford.

Dembrosky was the winning goalie each night.

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