BY DAN STICKRADT
BLOOMFIELD HILLS — A season of unpredictability provided an element of surprise in the postseason Tuesday for Lake Orion’s boys hockey team.
The Dragons avenged a 5-3 regular season defeat to arch rival Clarkston Tuesday at the Detroit Skate Club, topping the Wolves 5-3 in a Division 1 pre-regional at the Detroit Skate Club.
It marked the third straight year that Lake Orion has upended the Wolves in postseason play. The Dragons (10-11-5) will face Grand Blanc at 7 p.m. Thursday in the regional semifinals, also at DSC.
“We have been scoring a lot more goals lately, but scoring five like this was not expected,” said Lake Orion coach Nick Field. “We did a nice job coming back on them twice and we just played a great second period.”
Lake Orion trailed 1-0 and 2-1 and both times the Dragons rallied back. After Clarkston grabbed a 2-1 lead in the second period, Lake Orion erupted for four goals in the second frame and never trailed again. There was a time this season where we had some close losses and a lot of ties. But now we seem to be playing better (offensively).”
Clarkston (12-13-2) was able to net one late goal, but the damage had already been done and the Wolves were ushered to the exit of the postseason once again by the Dragons.
Jacob Laporte tallied the first goal for Clarkston, only to see Jacob Briskey answer for Lake Orion.
Eric Matynowski’s long-distance shot from just inside the blue line only two minutes into the second period gave Clarkston a 2-1 cushion. That momentum was quickly stalled out as the Dragons scored four times over the next 14 minutes.
Jacob Briskey pounced on a close-range rebound only 1:29 later to tie the game at 2-2 and open the floodgates for Lake Orion. Jordan Stross’ tally gave Lake Orion its first lead when his shot sailed through traffic and found the webbing inside the far goal post. Drew Casey moved the advantage to 4-2 and Stross added another power play goal late in the second period for the insurmountable 5-2 lead.
Clarkston outshot Lake Orion 18-6 in the third period, but the Wolves could only muster one late goal to cut the final margin down to two goals. Adam Johns scored in the third period for Clarkston.
Clarkston lost its final three games of the season, where the Wolves yielded 13 goals.
“I don’t know what happened, but our defense wasn’t (organized) and we kind of let our goaltenders out to dry,” said Clarkston coach Bryan Krygier.
Logan Aldrich finished with 33 saves in the contest for Lake Orion.
“Their goaltender played well,” said Krygier. “He’s a good goaltender. His save percentage is above (.900) and he played really well to keep them in it in the third period.
“You’ve got to hand it to Lake Orion,” continued Krygier. “They were prepared. They played well. They played hard, and their work ethic out there got them the win.”
Lake Orion, which reached the state semifinals two years ago, is coming together at the right time of the season.
“It really was a team effort,” added Field. “We put a good solid effort together, and like I said, in the third period Clarkston really brought it. I’m proud of the guys for battling and hanging on there.”
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