No. 1-ranked Brighton wins ugly in hockey opener, 5-3

Brighton's Will Jentz (10) joins the celebration after a goal during the Bulldogs' win at Orchard Lake St. Mary's in November. The teams meet for a Division 1 regional title today. (File photo)
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ORCHARD LAKE — OK, it wasn’t a thing of beauty.

In fact, Wednesday’s Brighton 5-3 hockey win over St. Mary’s was a lot of things, but not what the Bulldogs wanted to showcase in their season opener.

“I think it was a good win, but we didn’t play our game,” Brighton coach Paul Moggach said. “We scrambled, and some of our best players weren’t very good.”

That, he explained, was due to a few factors, none of them involving St. Mary’s despite the Eaglets being ranked No. 3 in the state in Division 1. Brighton is No. 1 in tbis week’s coaches’ poll.

“They were so pumped up for this game,” Moggach said of his players. “They weren’t in school (Wednesday), so they’ve been together all day, I think. They played soccer and went to breakfast. They were so pumped up, it was ridiculous.”

The Eaglets took advantage, getting their first goal with 53 seconds left in the first period and scoring on the power play 11 seconds into the third.

“We didn’t come out the way we wanted to,” goalie Logan Neaton said. “A lot of us have been thinking of this game since March 12, so there’s a buildup and leadup to that.”

March 12 was the day Brighton lost to Detroit Catholic Central in the Division 1 finals.

St. Mary's goalie Tanner Beals watches as a shot by Brighton's Adam Conquest beats him for the Bulldogs first goal on Wednesday. (Photo by Tim Robinson)
St. Mary’s goalie Tanner Beals watches as a shot by Brighton’s Adam Conquest beats him for the Bulldogs first goal on Wednesday. (Photo by Tim Robinson)

But, as unhappy as the Bulldogs might have been with the style they were playing, they rebounded in the second period on goals by Keith Wikman and Adam Conquest to  take a 2-1 lead.

Brighton's Mathew Kahra (22) celebrates after Adam Conquest put the Bulldogs ahead 2-1 midway through the second period. (Photo by Tim Robinson)
Brighton’s Mathew Kahra (22) celebrates after Adam Conquest put the Bulldogs ahead 2-1 midway through the second period. (Photo by Tim Robinson)

After St. Mary’s Bryce Kallen tied it early in the third, Jake Crespi scored a couple of minutes later when he stole a pass and beat Eaglets goalie Tanner Beals to give Brighton the lead again,.

St, Mary’s tied it again when Ryan Kerchoff took a pass after a Brighton turnover and beat Neaton with 11:35 left.

But the Bulldogs defense stiffened, and Brighton’s patience was rewarded when Will Mossett scored with 3:14 to go.

“(Joey Martini) took it to the side and hit the post,” Mossett said. “It came down right in front of me, and I was able to tap it in. Those are the goals you work hard for.”

Ben Peterson put it out of reach on a goal with 1:18 remaining.

“It’s a big win, getting us going here,” Mossett said. “It helps our confidence a lot, knowing we just played one of the best teams in the state, knowing we could keep up with them and at some points dominating them.”

The Bulldogs have two more games this week in the Cranbrook Invitational. Brighton will play Salem at 5 p.m. Friday, then play either Cranbrook or Livonia Stevenson on Saturday.

“It’s all mental,” Moggach said, asked about adjustments. “There’s nothing physical they have to do. … We’ve been penned up in our own rink so long they’re ready for the breakout. But I hope they can adjust mentally to what happened tonight. If they do, it’ll be a good weekend.”