The Trenton hockey team took the long bus ride to Chelsea for a Division 2 Regional opener on Tuesday and faced a tough challenge in a strong Skyline. But with the challenge conquered – barely – the Trojans got to enjoy the long bus ride back home even with snow starting to fall in Western Washtenaw County.
With just 4:51 seconds to play in regulation, Trenton’s Nick Millhorn found himself on the side of the net when a rebound slid right onto his stick and the senior didn’t miss, firing the puck in the net past Skyline goalie Brendan Cobb to give the Trojans a 2-1 lead. James Boyd fired the shot that ended up on Millhorn’s stick and was credited with the assist.
Skyline had a few good chances in the final minutes but Trenton’s defense and senior goalie Joey Cormier were up to the challenge.
With just 9.6 seconds left on the clock, Ethan Holt put the game away with an empty-net goal to make it 3-1 and send Trenton on to the next round. Assists on the final goal went to Brandon Clark and Caleb Kneiding.
The game was scoreless after one period and tied 1-1 after two periods.
The Trojans, who have reached the state finals the past two seasons, advance to the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday against Pioneer. Woodhaven plays Saline in the earlier semifinal game starting at 5 p.m. The finals are at 6 p.m. on March 4. All games are at the Arctic Coliseum in Chelsea.
Trenton Coach Chad Clements realized coming into this Regional that his hockey team was going to have to beat at least two quality goaltenders. One down, one to go.
“We knew it would be a challenge and playing at their place we knew they would have a good crowd here and it made for an exciting game,” Clements said. “Their goaltender Cobb was unbelievable. And hats off to their whole team. (Skyline Coach) Jake (Stripp) does a great job with that program.
“Our guys just kept battling. We needed to drive to the net a little bit harder and we got the big rebound there at the end that we needed.”
Clements said the Trojans have been playing well leading up to the postseason.
“It’s been a rollercoaster year for us,” he said. “The last game of the year we played pretty well so we came in with some confidence. It can be very frustrating when you run into a hot goaltender and I thought we controlled much of the play but we just couldn’t get much on the board.”
Trenton will run into another quality goaltender on Saturday when they face Pioneer senior Michael Leighton.
“He’s a phenomenal goaltender so we will have our work cut out for us again and it will be a similar situation as (Tuesday),” Clements said.
The first period was scoreless but not without action. The first 15 minutes were relatively clean with each team killing one penalty. But there were four penalties called in the final 2:20 including three on Trenton.
The action and intensity certainly jumped to another level in the second period. Both teams had some quality chances early, especially the Eagles who fired several excellent shots at Cormier in the first 40 seconds when they were on a two-man advantage to start the second.
With 9:29 left in the second period, Trenton scored but the goal was waved off for goalie interference. Not only did they not get the goal, but the Trojans were given a 2-minute interference penalty.
The Trojans finally got on the board while killing a penalty. With 18 seconds left on a man-advantage for Skyline, Zachary Teichart gave Trenton a 1-0 lead with 7:46 left in the period. Hunter Allen earned the assist on the goal.
The goal seemed to fire up the Trojans who completely dominated the next few minutes and fired several great shots at Cobb. But the senior goalie would not relent and kept his team in the game with several huge saves to keep it 1-0. At the other end of the ice, Cormier was up to any challenge the Eagles fired at him.
In the final seconds of the second period, Skyline’s Isaac Lippert fired a great shot from the point that Cormier somehow stopped. But with 6.3 seconds left, the Eagles landed on the scoreboard on a power-play goal by Henry Hescheles to tie the game at 1-1. Ryan Schmunk earned the assist on the goal.
There were four penalties in the period, including three on Trenton.
The game headed to the final period tied at 1-1.