Unless you go undefeated, each team has losses that can be classified thusly: The One That Got Away, and The One That Really Got Away.
For Hartland, its 4-0 loss to Birmingham Brother Rice in December was the second kind.
As it turns out, the Eagles (25-2-1) will have a chance to avenge that loss tonight, when Hartland takes on Brother Rice in a Division 2 semifinal at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, starting at or a little after 7:30 p.m.
“We came out way too confident the first time we played them,” Hartland’s Josh Albring said after Tuesday’s quarterfinal win over Livonia Stevenson. “They’re a great team, don’t get me wrong. We have to come out and lay our kind of hockey, get pucks on the net.
“We have to do a better job on the (penalty) kill,” he added. “I think three of their four goals were on the kill. If we do a good job on the kill and manage to get pucks on the net, I think we’ll do fine.”
Keeping out of the penalty box will undoubtedly be a point of emphasis, too. In the previous game, played on Dec. 13, Brother Rice had more penalties, seven to four, but Hartland had 19 penalty minutes to the Warriors’ 14.
“We definitely did not have a good night that night,” Hartland goalie Andrew Heuwagen said. “We were not mentally strong.”
“It’s deadly,” Hartland coach Rick Gadwa said. “We’ll try to find a way to stop it. Not just the power play. They’re a deadly hockey team. We’re going to have to have our best game.”
The teams have both had stretches as the No. 1-ranked team in Division 2 this season.
Brother Rice (23-3-1) and Hartland each have beaten Detroit Catholic Central, Brighton and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s this season, three top-ranked teams in Division 1.
The teams have had epic battles in the quarterfinals the last two years. Hartland won 5-4 last year in overtime, while Brother Rice won in four overtimes in 2015.
Brother Rice reached the finals by beating defending champion Romeo 4-0 on Tuesday.