The Brighton and Hartland hockey teams meet for the second time in four weeks today, and although the site is the same — at Brighton’s home ice at the Kensington Valley Ice House — Hartland coach Rick Gadwa isn’t concerned.
“We could be playing on a pond, we could be playing on Crooked Lake,” he said. “I don’t think it ever matters when you get our two schools together. It’s going to be a great, great, atmosphere and a great, great competitive hockey game.”
The game will be broadcast on The Livingston Post starting at 3:50 p.m. Click here for the link.
The winner will take over first place in the KLAA’s Gold Division. Both are 3-1 in division play, while Hartland is 11-3 overall and Brighton takes a 9-3-1 record into the game after a 7-1 over Livonia Franklin on the road on Friday.
In that game, sophomore Lane Petit scored his first high school hat trick while Joey LaColla, Mattix McMullen and Evan Wohlert each had two assists.
Hartland is coming off a 10-0 win at Novi on Wednesday. Ashton Trombley and Ben Pouliot each had two goals and two assists for the Eagles.
Hartland won the first meeting between the teams, a 3-1 decision in the championship game of Brighton’s Thanksgiving holiday tournament.
The win came despite Brighton having a man advantage for much iof the second period but being unable to take advantage.
Gadwa neither expects his team to draw that many penalties nor Brighton to fail to take advantage if the opportunity arises.
“It was early in the season, right?” Gadwa said of the Nov. 27 contest. “Now we’re in January and you’ve got that part of your team more figured out. I expect a more developed Brighton team, especially on special teams. Brighton always gets better every day throughout the season. And we should be better at this point.”
Kivisto says his team’s mental focus is better now, too.
“We have a younger team (just two players remain from two seasons ago), and they’re still learning how to prepare and comoete,” he said. “We didn’t come out very good at Hancock last week, but we were focused and dialed in on Saturday (a 6-1 win at Calumet). We were really, really good, and hopefully that carries over this weekend.”
Gadwa likes his team’s mentality as well.
“I think we’ve learned as a group to play a little bit smarter,” he said. “Early in the season we took a lot of penalties. I should knock on wood, but we’ve done a lot better at staying out of the box lately. It’s more a focus on howe to play smarter through that kind of stuff.”
Players on both teams are familiar with the ice at the Ice House, and Kivisto says the main home-ice advantage comes in having the last change for face-offs.
“You get the matchups you want,” Kivisto said. “But sometimes (home ice) is a disadvantage because sometimes our kids get a little too drawn in by the crows. So there’s definiitly pros and cons.”
The key for Brighton, Kivisto said, “is just play, play disciplined, consistent hockey. Not getting drawn into the home crowd and the emotion and be prepared and ready to go out and play hard.”
Gadwa, for his part, is hoping for a fast start.
“WE want to try to jump on them early and put some pressure on them early,” he said. “Try to create a tone, early on If we get into a hole on the road, it could be tough to come back. It’s always hard to score in these types of games, so if we can score early, that will be great.”