Asked about the state of his team’s rivalry with Hartland, Brighton coach Paul Moggach is blunt: There isn’t one.
“This is only a rivalry if we start to win again,” he said.
And in this series, it’s Hartland that’s been doing the winning as of late, with the Eagles taking the last five meetings, including a pair of KLAA title game matchups.
The teams will go at it again in a nonconference game postponed to 5 p.m. Monday due to Friday’s snowstorm.
“Any time you have a streak like this, with a lot of one-goal games, it comes down to eliminating one mistake, and we’ve been on the fortunate side of the bounces,” Hartland coach Rick Gadwa said.
The teams met in a KLAA Gold Division game on Jan. 29, with Hartland winning 2-1 on Brendan Tulpa’s power-play goal late in the third period.
Both teams have been streaking as of late. The Eagles have won their last seven in a row, while Brighton has won nine of its last 11 since ending 2017 with three losses in a row.
Losing to Hartland hasn’t been catastrophic for Brighton — they lost to the Eagles twice last season en route to winning a state championship — but Moggach was clearly irritated while talking about his team’s recent history with the Eagles.
“This is our community,” he said, “and we have to take a little more pride in how we prepare, and we have to come with a little more edge to what we do.
“I think we have to have an attitude of we’re not going to let you have this very easily. If you want this, you have to play bigger than us.”
The game is the first of three tough contests for the Eagles. After Monday’s game with Brighton, there’s a Wednesday home contest with Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and another home game Friday night with Livonia Stevenson for the KLAA title.
“It’s a great setup for us to get acclimated to a tough playoff run,” Gadwa said. “Every other night, we’ll have a top-3 team in the state to play (against). Every game will help prepare us for the playoffs.”
Rivalry or not, by his definition, Moggach is looking forward to the game.
“We wish it wasn’t at 5:00 on a Monday,” he said. “It deserves to have a big crowd, and it probably will be tough for people who are working to get there at 5. But it’s Michigan, and you have snow days.”