Bulldogs roll in hockey opener, 8-2

Adam Conquest, pictured last week, had a goal in an assist in Brighton's 3-2 victory on Wednesday. (Photo by Tim Robinson)
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BRIGHTON — After his team’s 8-2 victory in its home and season opener on Tuesday, the Brighton hockey team went back to work.

“There’s a lot of things we’ve got to put in,” Brighton coach Paul Moggach said. “We don’t have a lot of things in yet. It’s more basic fundamental structure.”

Certainly, the next opponent, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, will prove a stiffer test than Canton did on Tuesday.

But doing the basics was enough for Brighton in a win that followed a familiar script: Get oriented after a slow start, then find a gear and dominate puck possession, squeezing the life out of the other team’s offense.

You see it in the shots on goal, which Brighton dominated 52-12, but you see it in puck possession so thorough an observer begins to think the Bulldogs are on the power play while at full strength.

The shots then start raining in, and sooner or later the Bulldogs begin to take advantage.

This year, the shots are more likely to come from the blue line as in years past, and that certainly was the case on Tuesday. Junior defenseman Tim Erkkila took six shots and scored on two and also added three assists.

“We lost a lot of key forwards from last year,” Erkkila said. “So (Moggach) wants the returning (defensemen) to be part of the offense, get more pucks on net. Chip in a little bit and get on the scoresheet a bit.”

Mathew Kahra (22) is congratulated by teammates after scoring Brighton’s only goal in the first period of Tuesday’s game. (Photo by Tim Robinson)

Senior Brighton forward Mathew Kahra was nothing if not appreciative after Erkkila assisted on his two goals..

“I give a lot of credit to Tim for shooting those pucks from the blue line and getting them on my stick,” he said, smiling.

Defenseman Sam Brennan had three assists, while forward Adam Conquest had a goal and four assists.

Brighton got off to a slow start, going into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead. But the Bulldogs, playing before a raucous student section, blew the game open with a 5-1 outburst in the second period.

“It’s a process,” Moggach said. “Just play the process and the game plan. Ultimately, if you’re doing it right, it’s going to reward you. Our crowd was incredible although it might pull you down a little bit, trying to play to them a little bit. But we got contributions from a lot of guys. I thought our overall effort was good.”

Canton doesn’t have much time to recuperate: The Chiefs take on Hartland on Friday.

Brighton gets into the meat of its schedule next week, with St. Mary’s at home on Wednesday and then the Cranbrook tournament Friday and Saturday.

As the season goes on, Moggach is counting on his returning core of defensemen, Brennan, Erkkila and Brody White, to play a bigger role on offense than in previous seasons.

“They are superb high school defensemen,” Moggach said.

Erkkila says they’re ready.

“He trusts us,” Erkkila said of Moggach. “He lets us out of the gate, and it’s fun to play that way.”

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