Brighton falls to St. Mary’s in OT, looks forward to weekend

Photo by Tim Robinson
Brighton's Joey Clifford (7) and the Bulldogs play host to Howell tonight.
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BRIGHTON — Paul Moggach is an optimist who wants results.

That outlook didn’t change Wednesday night, which saw the Bulldogs hockey team lose to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in overtime, 4-3.

It will be the same Friday and Saturday, when Brighton plays in the Cranbrook Invitational.

“This is a great time of year for us,” Moggach said Wednesday night. “Thanksgiving is hockey time for us. We’ve always done the Wednesday-Friday-Saturday think. It’s a great opportunity, it’s a lot of fun and a day of thanksgiving in there, too. It couldn’t be any better for us. We just need to win a couple of games this weekend.”

Brighton is 0-3 after Wednesday’s loss, which saw them fall into a 3-1 hole after two periods before rallying in the third to tie.

“We got ourselves in penalty problems,” Moggach said. “We had nine minutes of penalties (in the first period), and you can’t play out of a hole like that against a team with fresh legs.”

Another slow start didn’t help, either. St. Mary’s scored just 51 seconds into the game and again with 53 seconds left in the period.

“We gave up a goal on the first shift and one on the last,” Moggach said. “We’re giving up goals at bad times. Our special teams have been good, but we’re running ourselves out of opportunities. We have a power play and take a penalty.

“It comes down to the discipline,” he continued. “I don’t think there’s enough discipline on the team yet. We need to work the discipline in.”

Keith Wikman’s first varsity goal got the Bulldogs on the scoreboard early in the second, but St. Mary’s scored again to make it 3-1 going into the third.

‘I thought we could have played better (in the first),” senior Jay Keranen said. “But we came back strong and took it to them a little bit.”

Brighton was stronger in the third, outshooting St. Mary’s 13-2 and getting goals from Mathew Kahra and Joey Clifford.

Jake Crespi assisted on both. On Kahra’s goal, he drew the defense to one side of the goal, then fired a perfect pass to Kahra, who fired it into a mostly open net.

The second goal came when St. Mary’s had the puck in the Brighton zone. Crespi poked it away from a defenseman, and Clifford took it from there.

He used  a burst of speed seen often on the football field this fall to blow past the defense en route to the goal.

“It was very exciting,” Clifford said. “It was really big.”

But the Bulldogs took another penalty as time expired in regulation and started the overtime a man short.

“We couldn’t get anything going into the overtime,” Clifford said. “They had a lot of momentum on the power play and it wore us down.”

It’s the second year in a row Brighton has started 0-3. Last year, injuries played a key role to the slow start.

‘Lack of discipline is a controllable,” Moggach said. “We just want to control the controllables. Having the energy to come out (strong), having the energy to finish.

“But half of this is a new team. We need to get them more engaged. But we’ll be OK. I’m not frustrated. When you’re losing, you find ways to lose, and when you’re winning, you find ways to win. So we’ll get on the other side of it.”

The Cranbrook Invitational features Rochester, ranked No. 5 by the coaches association (St. Marys and Brighton are No. 2 and 3, respectively), Livonia Stevenson, which tops the Division 2 poll and host Cranbrook, ranked No. 1 in Division 3.

“We’ve played the best teams in the state already,” Moggach said, referring to Detroit Catholic Central, ranked No. 1 in Division 1, and Hartland, No. 8 in Division 2. “By the time this weekend is over, we’ll have seen the best of the best. This is the plan. It’s controllable. We don’t have any cupcakes, and we like it that way.”