Hockey: Trenton skates past Pioneer after strong opening period in Regional semifinal

The last time Trenton hit the ice at the Arctic Coliseum in Chelsea, the Trojans found themselves in a game with a talented and scrappy Skyline team that played them to a 1-1 draw after two periods. The Trojans took the lead with less than 5 minutes to play and scored an empty-net goal for a 3-1 win over the Eagles.

Fast forward to Saturday – and fast forward is a great way to describe how Trenton came out in the first period against another talented and scrappy team from Ann Arbor, Pioneer.

The Trojans, who have been to the state finals the past two seasons, know how to take their game to another level because each year they seem to reach the highest level. Trenton has long been a hockey powerhouse and they proved it again against a Pioneer team that didn’t know what hit them – literally – in a dominant first period.

The Trojans came out flying, hitting and scoring as they netted three goals in the opening period and never looked back in a 4-0 win over the Pioneers in a Division 2 Regional semifinal.

“I thought we played better (Saturday) than we did against Skyline,” Trenton Coach Chad Clements said. “Our guys were moving. It took us a while to figure out the breakout but I thought in the second and third periods our defensemen settled down and broke the puck out really well.”

Clements had high praise for goaltender Joey Cormier. The senior earned the shutout and has allowed just one goal in two playoff games so far this postseason.

“I thought he was amazing,” Clements said. “He was really motivated (Saturday) and on his game and they probably should have had two or three goals but Joey was just amazing.”

Trenton will play Saline at 6 p.m. on Wednesday in a Regional final at Chelsea. The Hornets defeated Woodhaven in overtime in the first semifinal game at the Arctic Coliseum on Saturday.

“We watched them earlier but other than that we don’t know anything about them,” Clements said of Saline. “We will get some film on them and go back to work.”

At 14:18 of the first period, Trenton’s Rory Szczepaniak scored with an assist from Ethan Holt to make it 1-0.

Less than 5 minutes later, Szczepaniak scored again with a short-handed and unassisted goal at 10:02 to make it 2-0.

The Trojans kept up the pressure but Pioneer goalie Michael Leighton did a great job of keeping his team in the game. But with 5:22 left in the period, Nick Millhorn scored with an assist from Brad Nemeth to give Trenton a 3-0 lead.

Trenton had two penalties in the first period to one for Pioneer.

The second period was scoreless as both goalies, Leighton and Cormier, kept the puck out of the net despite some quality scoring chances. There were three penalties called in the period, all on Trenton.

With 11:14 left in the third period, Trenton’s Hunter Allen made it 4-0 to put the game on ice.