BRIGHTON — Asked what he know about tonight’s opponent, Lowell-Caledonia, Brighton hockey coach Paul Moggach attacks the subject with none of his usual finesse.
“Nothing,” he said. “Just a flat nothing. Haven’t had time to look.”
He and the Bulldogs will get a closer look tonight at Munn Arena on the Michigan State campus in East Lansing, when the teams meet in a Division 1 quarterfinal at 7 p.m..
It’s the first quarterfinal for Lowell-Caledonia in 40 years, while for Brighton it’s the Bulldogs fifth in the last six. The last four have resulted in trips to the finals.
“We’ve been very fortunate the last few years to make this part of our season,” Moggach said of the Bulldogs. “Our players need to understand that this is what we work so hard to do, and if you work hard and do the right thing and stay together, you can be here.”
Both reached the quarterfinals via overtime wins. Lowell-Caledonia beat Grand Ledge-Fowlerville 2-1 in double overtime on Saturday, while Brighton did the same to Orchard St. Mary’s in over time on Saturday.
“Senior year, last game at home, and you get to win a regional title,” senior goalie Logan Neaton said. “It doesn’t much better than that. You can’t ask for much better than that.”
The early part of the game, Moggach said, is for exploring.
“YOu feel each other out,” he said, “see what they’ve got, see the dept of the lines. Home teams get the match,” a reference to having the last change, “and if you’re not getting the match you try to match the D a little bit. There’s not much you can do. You have to play your game and make the little adjustments.”
Will Mossett, a senior, admits to having butterflies before last year’s trip to Munn.
‘Once you get out there, the first two minutes, you’re like ‘Oh my God, this is so intimidating,'” he said. “It’s a giant arena. Once you start playing the game, it gets out of your head and you focus on playing hockey.”
Moggach said Monday he had taken Sunday off from hockey except to full out paperwork for the MHSAA.
“It’s been a long week,” he said. “A long two weeks. A long season.”
If all goes well, three games remain.
“Not many teams left now,” Moggach said. “And to be able to put on your skates and be with the guys is great. Everybody wants to get to the next step. Winning the quarter would be great, then on to USA.”
The winner will play in the Division 1 semifinals at 5 p.m. Friday at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth. The championship game will be Saturday at 6 p.m.
On Monday, a team that has had all kinds of experience playing on high school hockey’s biggest stage prepared for one more final four berth.
“Hopefully, we get to reap the benefits after working five and six days a week during the offseason and the season,” Neaton said “It’s definitely a grind, but it’s worth it. It’s just another game. We go out, play our game and see where it takes us. “