BRIGHTON — There are two games for the Brighton hockey team before the holiday break, and Brighton coach Paul Moggach is happy for both.
That, in large part, is because they are against LIvonia Stevenson on Saturday and at Livonia Churchill on Wednesday. They’re both games the Bulldogs need if they want to achieve goals of winning the Kensington Conference.
“It’s great to have these league games right now,” Moggach said Thursday. “We’ve played a lot of nonconference games and played some great games, but we can’t lose the perspective of what we’ve got to get done.”
Due to some quirks in the schedule, Saturday’s game against Stevenson is the third scheduled between the teams, but the only one that counts in league standings.
The Bulldogs (6-1 overall, 2-0 KLAA Central) played Stevenson (5-3, 3-2) in the championship game of the Cranbrook Invitational last month and will play again in a nonconference game based on last year’s USHSHO rankings.
In the meantime, Moggach is looking for a better effort from his team than in Wednesday’s 8-0 rout of Canton. The coach thought his team came out flat.
“We can’t just show up,” he said. “I think we showed up there and we noticed in the warmups we weren’t very good.”
Instead, Moggach said, he wants his team to adopt a mantra popularized by Western Michigan football coach P.J. Fleck: Every game is a championship game.
“I think he’s right,” Moggach said. “If you come in thinking you can take some nights off, and other’s aren’t taking the night off, whether it’s in a game or practicing, then they’re getting better and you’re not.”
The Brighton-Stevenson matchup has proven to be one of the better ones in the state in recent years. Both have become regulars at the state finals in their respective divisions, Brighton in Division 1 and Stevenson in Division 2.
But winning the KLAA is the first item on the checklist.
“They’re all important,” Moggach said of conference games. “WE’re in the situation in our conference where you don’t want to lose a game because you don’t know if you can catch it up. You don’t want to put it in someone else’s hands.”
The Bulldogs play their fair share of games on the road, but they’re also looking forward to the home opener.
“It’s a very big deal,” senior Jake Crespi said of playing at home. “We should have a big crowd out. It’s a huge game.”
The Bulldogs have, for several seasons, opened their home schedule against Detroit Catholic Central. That didn’t happen this season, although the teams will play next month at Brighton.
Stevenson, in the Bulldogs eyes, is a more than worthy substitute.
“CC, Stevenson, Hartland and (Orchard Lake) St. Mary’s,” Crespi siad. Those are all the guys you want to play at home, because those are big games every single year.”