They say a three-goal lead is a dangerous thing.
On Thursday evening the Gabriel Richard hockey team came dangerously close to seeing its three-goal lead slip away.
But, they hung on for the win and moved one step closer to the end prize of the MHSAA state playoffs.
The Pioneers met up with Grosse Ile and knocked off the Red Devils 3-2 to advance to Saturday’s regional final.
Richard led 1-0 after 17 minutes and 3-0 heading into the final period before Grosse Ile fired its way back in.
“I was very happy with the first two periods,” Richard Coach Ricky DeSana said. “I thought we out-possessed them on the puck, but when we are careless and give them the puck they got some breaks.
“I give them credit. They came with all they’ve got in the third period.”
The comeback started just over a minute into the third.
Zak Kubiak raced down the ice and deposited the puck into the net to put the Red Devils on the board early in the third.
With 2:17 to go, Grosse Ile struck again. Kyle Kish found the back of the net on the power play and it was a one-goal game.
Unfortunately for the Red Devils, they could not capitalize with the extra attacker in the final minutes and saw their season end.
Early on, the Pioneers got on the board early with a lucky goal.
A Grosse Ile turnover in their defensive zone turned into a Zach Gilreath goal or a 1-0 lead after 17 minutes.
DeSana was happy with the goal despite how it came.
“With the amount of shots we were getting, we needed to get a goal to know it was going to go in for us,” he said. “If we didn’t get a goal in the first period we would have just gone into the locker room discouraged.”
Seven minutes into the middle period, Jack Skrzynski netted one on the power play for a 3-0 lead and with 4:27 to play, John Ames found himself alone in front of the Grosse Ile net and fired home for the 3-0 game.
Grosse Ile Coach Jason Durbin said it was a tough loss to swallow.
“Unfortunately we didn’t decide to play until the third period, and you can’t just play one out of three periods and expect to win playoff hockey,” he said. “(But) that’s a good team over there (and) I give them all the praise in the world.
“They came, they wanted it, they won and they’re moving on.”
With the loss the Red Devils lose seven seniors, including star goalie Thomas Rofe.
“He’s played fantastic for us,” Durbin said. “He’s been the backbone of our team all year long.
“Thomas did his job today. I just wish we could have given him a little more offensively.”
With the win the Pioneers move on to face Carlson in Saturday’s regional final.
“It’s gonna be much like this game,” DeSana said. “A really tight, close hockey game and probably a one-goal game. It could go either way.
“Whoever takes care of the puck the best will win.”