They haven’t seen much of each other, if at all, but the Brighton and Howell hockey teams know what to expect tonight when they meet at the 140 Ice Den (formerly Grand Oaks Ice Arena) for their only regular-season matchup.
The game begins at 5 p.m. and will be broadcast by The Livingston Post. Click here for the link.
Both teams are at or slightly above .500 this season going into the final week of the regular season. Brighton is 5-4-3, while Howell is 5-5.
Brighton is looking to get off to faster starts, beginning tonight.
“I think mindset in preparation is big for that,” Brighton coach Kurt Kivisto said. “We have to do a better job preparing for games, both physically and mentally, and putting the focus on the game and not anything outside lur control.
“We haven’t fared too well in the first period this season so far,” he added. “We’ve been really good in the second, so we’ve got to take that second-period game and apply it to the first.”
For Howell, this is the first of two rivalry games in a row, as the Highlanders play host to Hartland on Monday. Coach Rocky Johnson believes playing both at home helps his team.
“Any time you can get dressed in your own (locker) room and not have to get on a bus and you can come and go as you please is always a benefit,” he said. “The 140 is an incredible arena. The new ownership has done a fantastic job there. It certainly helps us out there. But, again, it’s Brighton and it’s Hartland on Monday, so we’re going to focus on Brighton right now, and that in itself is difficult.”
Brighton and Howell could meet again in the third week of March during the Division 1 regionals at Orchard Lake, while Hartland and Howell are in different divisions.
So, although scouting opportunities have been curtailed by the compressed schedule, the emotions and bidding for bragging rights have not.
“These kids grew up playing with and against each other,” Kivisto said. “There’s a lot of that personal rivalry there. There’s the town rivalry, and we’ve had a good back and forth the last couple of years, so that certainly makes it more exciting this year, for sure.”
The crowd will be boisterous, if not at normal levels. A total of four people per participant will be allowed to attend.