Eagles’ hockey run ends in semifinals, 5-1

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PLYMOUTH — The second time around was no fun at all for the Hartland hockey team on Thursday night.

Three weeks after beating Livonia Stevenson 4-0 for the KLAA title, the Eagles found the tables turned, and then some, in the Division 2 semifinals at USA Hockey Arena.

Stevenson dominated from the start, ending Hartland’s season with a 5-1 victory.

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“We’re a good team,” said Hartland coach Rick Gadwa, whose team finished 25-3-1. “But we didn’t show that tonight. It stinks, but we have to wake up tomorrow and get ready to go again next season.”

Stevenson completely throttled the high-powered Hartland offense in the first period, spending most of the period in the Eagles zone and outshooting them 18-2.

“They had a compete level we were unable to match,” Gadwa said. “Tonight, no one could have beaten them.”

“We came out flat as a team,” said co-captain Luke Cowan, who scored the Eagles’ lone goal in the second period. “We didn’t come out as hard as we possibly could, and they did.”

Stevenson defenseman Alex Allen said his team took a cue from Hartland’s game against Brother Rice on Tuesday.

The Eagles won, 5-4 in overtime, but were outshot by the Warriors.

“We worked on getting shots to the net as fast as possible,” he said. “We wanted to get shots on the net and get rebounds.”

The Spartans scored first when Nate Sudek won a face-off in the Hartland end, sending the puck to Zach Finzel, who one-timed the shot past Hartland goalie Christian Spengler.

Stevenson scored again 52 seconds later, when Ben Kowalske banged home a rebound, and for all intents and purposes, the game was decided.

“Those goals really helped settle us down, and it put them on their heels,” Stevenson coach Dave Mitchell said.

“Everything went wrong, all game long,” Gadwa said. “Sometimes, that’s the way the cards fall.”

The second period was better for the Eagles, who trailed 3-0 when Jake Beaune scored an unassisted goal less than two minutes into the period.

Cowan scored on the power play two minutes later, and the Eagles nearly had a goal a short time after when a shot banged off the goalpost.

Stevenson’s Nate Sudek put the game out of reach with a goal late in the second, and finished the scoring with an empty-net slap shot from deep in the Stevenson end with 1:22 remaining.

Stevenson will play Romeo for the title at 10 a.m. Saturday.

“As hard as it was (Thursday), we grew as a team this season,” said Cowan, who along with Josh Albring is a contender for the Division 2 all-state team. “I wouldn’t have wanted to do this season with anyone else.”