Gliding through the playoffs

By Eric Alcott & Lauren Parker
managing opinion & out of bounds

With two losses to cross town rivals MHS during the regular season, when it came time for playoffs, there was some doubt about the DHS hockey team. Skeptics, however, were proven wrong as the team went on to beat MHS by a score of five to four, and then Heritage to win the district title.

Going into the MHS game on February 27, the Chemics had beaten DHS 14 times in a row since a 3-0 Chargers’ win on Feb. 1. 2006, but this didn’t seem to affect the confidence of the DHS team.

“Our senior class had never won a game against Midland, so there was an element of motivation,” senior fan Noah Nuechterlein said. “It was their last chance to beat Midland, that being said, it was certainly a huge upset, and we weren’t expecting anything.”

Coach Dick Blasy, on the other hand, was confident with his team, despite the two previous losses to Midland.

“We had played them tough the first two games, so I knew we had a chance to beat them,” Blasy said.

Sophomore goalie Derek Striker agrees with this mindset that the team shared after playing the previous game against MHS.

“The team was confident that we could compete against Midland,” Striker said. “The last game was only decided by one goal so we knew that we could skate with them.”

As the game started, MHS started out strong with a goal in the third minute, but this didn’t seem to faze the Chargers, as senior Trevor Roberts scored to tie the game up in the first period.

During the second period, MHS scored again to take the lead, but this didn’t last long. Senior Conrad Lather stormed the ice, scoring three goals in the span of two minutes to give the Chargers a 4-2 lead that the Chemics would not be able to recover from.

“I didn’t even realize after the second goal that I had two, and that when I scored again that it was a hat trick,” Lather said. “I was just excited that we had gotten up by two against Midland which is huge.”

Only minutes later sophomore Travis McNally rounded out the scoring for the Chargers, improving the lead to three points. DHS held the lead for the rest of the game with help from Striker.

When the game was over, excitement was felt throughout the team and Charger fans.

“It was unreal, I had played for four years against them and never won and then to finally beat them, words can’t even describe how good it felt,” Lather said. “Beating them meant a lot more than scoring three
goals for me.”

Striker also knew how important the win was for the seniors.

“It felt good giving the seniors a win against Midland,” he said. “They hadn’t beaten them or had that kind of run in the playoffs before.”

For fans like Nuechterlein, the win against MHS was very memorable.

“It was better than the 24-0 win in football,” Nuechterlein said. “The implications of the game, it being so close, they were 5th in the state, to knock them out 1st round of playoffs was pretty impressive.”

After beating MHS, the team had to quickly regain their focus and concentrate on beating Heritage just two days later.

“As a coach I really enjoyed [beating Midland] but at the same time we had Heritage two days later, and as a coaching staff we had to get ready for that game,” Blasy said.

While the team had lost the two previous games against Heritage, Lather remained hopeful that DHS could beat them.

“They beat us twice in the regular season so we knew they were a good team, but we knew what we had to do,” Lather said. “We were playing a lot better in the end of the season, so we felt pretty confident that we could win and we just had to work hard.”

Blasy also agrees with the significance of the victory against Heritage.

“The most impressive win was against Heritage, we could have easily
settled for beating Midland as the highlight of our season, but for the boys to pull it together and beat a team that we’d lost to twice was impressive,” Blasy said.

The team feels that the support from the student body through those games helped motivate them. Striker credited some of their win against MHS and Heritage to the huge turnout.

“The fan support getting behind the team with a large amount of the students body meant a lot and really helped motivate us,” Striker said.

He also believes that the success they had in the playoffs helped changed the mindset of the student body of what the team could achieve.

“I think the games changed the traditions and the thoughts on the hockey team and what we can accomplish,” Striker said.

This changed mindset also raised the expectations of what success the team could achieve in future seasons.

Blasy added that after going this far in the playoffs this year, next year’s team will have to work just as hard to reach that level.

“The bar’s been set, we have to come out next year and try to do better than we did this year,” Blasy said.

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