A pair of Catholic League and Metro League rivals hooked up on Thursday night to open the new season as Allen Park Cabrini welcomed in Riverview Gabriel Richard.
The visiting Pioneers kicked off the 2019-20 campaign with a dominating 6-0 shutout of the host Monarchs at Allen Park Civic Arena..
Richard’s Nathan Vazquez got things rolling with the first goal less than three minutes into the game. It was the first of three for Vazquez, who tallied two more late in the third period to cap off the hat trick. In addition, he now has more than 100 career points.
Pioneers freshman Robbie Chiles scored his first career goal late in the first to make it a 2-0 game.
The visitors kept Cabrini net minder Brandon Hiuser under siege all night long, even in a scoreless second period.
But Richard proved to be too much for the Monarchs, wearing them down in the third and lighting the lamp four more times. In addition to the two third-period goals from Vasquez, Austin Kissel also found the back of the net twice.
Pioneers coach Rick DeSana was pleased with the way his team started and finished on Thursday night and with the fact that the squad got contributions from up and down the roster.
“Everybody played a big role tonight, all the way down to our bench guys,” DeSana said. “One of our biggest strengths this year will be depth. Tonight we played everyone and I think it just wore (Cabrini) down with the way we played the puck.”
Vazquez and Austin Harrison, who had three assists on the night, were two of the top three point scorers for Richard a season ago. Add in Jacob Emery and that’s three of the top four scorers returning this year for the Pioneers.
On the other side, trying to slow down that Pioneer onslaught was a big concern for Monarchs coach Matt Grant after the game.
“It was certainly the defense, really overall,” Grant said. “We gave up way too many shots on goal, too many opportunities. But I think despite the score, (Hiuser) played well. He saw a lot of shots, especially in the middle of the ice. But defensively, we have to be a lot better.”
Grant added that he would have liked to see more pressure on Richard’s defense and goaltender Drew Adams and that they have to take advantage of the opportunities when they arise.
Cabrini is working under a new co-op this year. They still have ties with Dearborn Heights Annapolis, with the lone representative this year being Andrew Seminara. New this season are five players from Belleville, which disbanded from a previous unification with New Boston Huron.
“These guys have really only been skating together for about two weeks,” Grant said. “It’s going to take a little time for things to gel and for that chemistry to build. It’ll happen over time but it is tough early on, guys who don’t go to school together or play together, it is gonna be a challenge. But we’ll get there.”
Last season, Richard won only three of its first 11 games but then caught fire after Christmas and made its second consecutive run to the Division 3 state semifinals. DeSana buys into that momentum carrying over into the new season, especially with the collection of players he has at his disposal.
“I think it gives us some confidence,” he said. “We have five seniors that are four-year players with a lot of the same system and structure still in tact. And then there is the mix of good, young talent. There are some freshmen that don’t look like freshmen. It is nice to have.”
Both teams won’t take the ice again for a game until next week. Richard will travel to play Grosse Pointe Woods-University Liggett on Tuesday, November 26 at 5:30 p.m. Cabrini will continue what is a stretch of six home games to start the year when they bring in Temperance Bedford on Wednesday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m.