BRIGHTON — After three and a half weeks of practice and a hard-fought 3-2 win over Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, the Thanksgiving holiday comes at a good time for the Brighton hockey team.
“The nice thing is they have time with their family and can hook up with some friends,” Brighton coach Paul Moggach said. “And they have a day off.”
They would have gotten the day off anyway, but bouncing back after giving up a goal 30 seconds into the game made the holiday that much better for the Bulldogs (2-0).
“It’s always a confidence booster,” senior goalie Robert Pegrum said. “We did it last year in the first game (a Brighton 4-3 win) and we got it this year, which is always nice. Then again, it’s only the second game, and there’s a lot more hockey to be played.”
St. Mary’s, a senior-laden team, scored first when Ryan Kerchoff pounced on a Brighton turnover and scored 30 seconds into the game to give the Eaglets a 1-0 lead.
“He just snuck it over me, high glove,” Pegrum said. “It was a good goal.”
Once the butterflies had settled, the Bulldogs started to take control of the game in the latter half of the first period. They struck just after the opening faceoff in the second when Will Jentz, who scored the winning goal in last March’s 2-1 overtime win in the regional final, tied it just seven seconds into the period.
“We won the faceoff forward,” Jentz said. “Adam (Conquest) was all over the guy, left the puck for me and I just shot it glove.”
Harry Newton gave the Bulldogs the lead for good midway through the period when he tried to clear the puck up the ice from behind the St. Mary’s net, but hit a defender and the puck went in.
Conquest scored early in the third, but St. Mary’s kept it close on a goal 17 seconds later. The Brighton defense stiffened and held.
“I think we captured that win with hard work and by being resilient,” Moggach said. “I think we gained confidence because (St. Mary’s) are a good team with a lot of seniors, and I think it shows that old doesn’t always beat young.”
The Bulldogs are back in action Friday, when they take on Salem in a semifinal in the annual tournament at Cranbrook. Brighton has won the tournament the last three years.