Hockey: Pioneers continue to skate along among the best, top Huron 8-0

Pioneer, one of the best hockey teams in the area if not the state, shut out crosstown rival Huron 8-0 on Wednesday, dominating every facet of the game at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube.

Pioneer senior forward Tristin Wilkins said the team has improved throughout the season and they certainly brought their A game against a city rival.

“We’ve been working hard all year,” Wilkins said. “Every day in practice we get a little bit better, and it’s really starting to pay off.”

Pioneer used both its senior goaltenders, Michael Leighton and Robbie Haviland, in the game. Both played a period respectively and combining for 13 saves in the shutout.

Pioneer head coach Frank Garcia said that his team’s focus was playing defense.

“We focused on trying to limit shots on net, making sure we get pucks out of our zone,” Garcia said. “The defense could have been a little better, but we limited their shots. Our goaltending was outstanding, as it always has been.”

On the offensive end, Garcia said the key to Pioneer’s attack was puck movement.

“It started with puck movement,” Garcia said. “We wanted to make sure we got quality chances, and when we got them to make sure we put them on net and crash the net for rebounds.”

Pioneer dominated the opening minutes of the game, but Huron goalie Min-Seok Kim made two great saves on Pioneer’s Jack Martin to keep the Pioneers scoreless. About 5 minutes into the period, Pioneer had another great chance but a shot by Eli Jackel hit the post on a breakaway.

Pioneer scored first on a snap shot from the point by forward Ralph Dixon that went off Kim’s glove and into the net. The goal was unassisted. Pioneer took the lead with 11:29 remaining in the first period.

The Pioneers added three more first-period goals with a relentless attack on Huron’s goaltender. Less than 2 minutes after the first goal, Pioneer scored its second goal on a slap shot from the blue line by forward Thomas Kreske, assisted by Jack Ceccaci.

Pioneer wasted no time, scoring its third goal of the period only 47 seconds after its second. Forward Jon Goldstein one-timed a goal-mouth pass from Ethan Kotre to give the Pioneers a 3-0 lead with 9:08 remaining in the first period. Ceccaci also assisted on the goal.

Kim made some great saves in the first period, but Pioneer’s offensive attack proved too much for Huron. Pioneer continued to pour it on with a goal from Jackel as he broke towards the goal and roofed a backhander over Kim into the right corner of the net, giving Pioneer a 4-0 lead with 6:54 remaining in the first period. Kreske assisted on the goal.

Huron’s best scoring chance in the first period came in the final minute, when Eli Ross had a chance on a breakaway, but Leighton made a great pad save to keep the River Rats off the scoreboard.

Pioneer held a 4-0 lead after the first period and outshot Huron 24-8.

Pioneer’s dominance continued throughout the second period. The Pioneers took advantage of a Huron penalty, and Sean Fitzgerald snapped a rebound past Kim to extend Pioneer’s lead to 5-0 with 13:49 remaining in the second period. Kreske and Kotre assisted on the goal.

Pioneer would add three more goals in the period, as Ceccaci, Francis Roderique, and Dixon scored one apiece. Dixon finished with two goals on the night, and was the only Pioneer player with multiple goals for the game.

Pioneer finished with seven different goal scorers.

Haviland made five saves in the period, including one in the final seconds of the period to preserve the shutout and Pioneer’s eight-goal lead.

The game was called after the second period because Pioneer held an eight-goal lead.

Pioneer returns to action when it travels to Dexter on Saturday. Puck drop is listed as 7 p.m.