Dearborn Divine Child Coach Dominic Scala said “big players step up in big games.”
It was an accurate description of Falcons’ forward Ian Juszczyk.
The junior netted a hat trick and added two assists to lead Divine Child to a 6-2 rout of Riverview Gabriel Richard in the Division 3, Region 23 final Saturday at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube.
“He’s the man, no question,” Scala said. “He’s been our go-to guy for that sort of thing all year, and we’re lucky to have him.”
It didn’t take long for Juszczyk’s presence to be felt against Richard (8-17-2). He netted Divine Child’s (11-15-2) first goal six minutes into the first period, scoring twice more in the first three minutes of the second period to complete the hat trick.
Juszczyk assisted Jose Sanchez’s goal with 4:15 left in the first period and helped Craig Sandie net the dagger with 9:41 left in the game.
“It feels really good,” Juszczyk said. “We worked really hard for this and really wanted this.
“It’s been a while since we got one of these.”
Indeed it has been; Scala said Saturday’s regional final win was Divine Child’s first since 2009. It’s the 10th regional title overall for the Falcons, according to the school’s website.
With the win, Divine Child improved to 2-0-1 against Richard this season. The Falcons won in overtime on Dec. 14 and tied the Pioneers on Jan. 16.
Divine Child advances to play Chelsea in the D3 quarterfinal on March 8 at Trenton’s Kennedy Ice Center.
The Bulldogs beat the Falcons 4-2 in the Gaylord Showcase on Dec. 9.
Richard got on the board first when Michael Moceri found Austin Harrison for a power-play goal nearly three minutes into play.
It took the Pioneers quite a while to light the lamp again; Josh Wiseman scored on a Nathan Vasquez assist with 36 seconds left in regulation.
The Pioneers lose only one senior – defenseman Dylan Reynolds – on a team littered with freshmen and sophomores. Though the outcome wasn’t preferred, Richard Coach Rick DeSana is confident that Saturday’s loss to Divine Child will help push the Pioneers forward.
“This is a tremendous amount of experience for them, to be able to play in this hockey game against a very good hockey team,” he said. “I have a strong feeling that we’ll be back.”