Brighton downs Franklin, edges closer to Kensington crown

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BRIGHTON — Nine down, two to go.

That’s where the Brighton hockey team sat on Monday night after a 6-2 win over Livonia Franklin at the Kensington Valley Ice House.

The Bulldogs (12-5 overall, 8-1 KLAA West) need home wins Thursday against Northville and on Feb. 2 against Novi to win the KLAA Central and the Kensington Conference title for the fifth year in a r0w.

As it stands, Brighton would win the title even if it ties with Livonia Stevenson atop the standings because the Bulldogs beat the Spartans 3-2 in their conference game on Dec. 18.

“We know we’ve got to win each one,” Brighton coach Paul Moggach said, “so we have to take them one at a time. The target’s on our back. We know they’re coming after us.”

Brighton, which has won 12 of 14 since an 0-3 start, got going early when Lee Pietla scored just 38 seconds into the game, and took a 2-0 lead when Tim Erkkila scored with 18 seconds left in the first period.

“It’s always good to score like that,” Moggach said.

It stayed that way until midway through the second period, when Franklin (11-5, 6-3) drew a pair of penalties, scoring on both to tie the game.

“Then, it’s a different game,” Moggach said. “It put a little life in them and sucked it out of us.”

The key, Erkkila said, was going back to basics.

“You’ve got to focus on getting the simple plays,” he said. “Easy passes and getting back on track.”

But the Patriots kept swarming until Brighton’s Mathew Kahra took advantage, stealing the puck just outside the Franklin blue line and firing a shot past goalie Jake Penny for a shorthanded goal that gave Brighton the lead for good.

“It re-energized us,” Erkkila said. “It gave us a push and we started building off that.”

Erkkila got things started with a goal 52 seconds into the third. Drew Daavettila and Pietila finished the scoring.

“We’re a good skating team,” Moggach said. “We work hard to be prepared for that, and in the third period you saw the difference in our conditioning. We got going and we didn’t let up. We possessed the puck much better in the third.”

Northville (9-4-2, 6-2) has the best shot to derail the Bulldogs.

“Everyone wants to beat us,” Moggach said. “We’ll make a team’s season if we give them that game, and we can’t do that. We have to keep working and get in those trenches and battle it out. We’re not expecting anything easy, at all.”