After sweeping through the regional round with three shutout victories, Riverview Gabriel Richard tangled with Chelsea in a Division 3 hockey quarterfinal round on Saturday. And for the third year in a row, the Pioneers will be among the final four teams left as they took out the Bulldogs from Chelsea by a final of 4-1.
“It’s unbelievable to be back,” said Richard coach Rick DeSana. “It just feels amazing. We really want to be able to get one more step further each year. Overall, I can not be happier with them, it was a lot of hard work and effort.”
The Pioneers (20-8) got off to a quick start on Saturday with a pair of goals in the first period, including the first of three from Austin Harrison less than three minutes into the game. The lead increased to 3-0 in the late stages of the second before Chelsea (14-12-2) ended Richard’s bid for a fourth consecutive shutout shortly thereafter.
Richard tallied 21 of its 26 shots on goal in the first two periods.
Six of the 10 points recorded by Richard on Saturday were done by a trio of seniors in Emery, Harrison and Vazquez. Additionally, goaltender Drew Adams stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced in the game. DeSana called his senior netminder the team’s “backbone” and said he was the “biggest difference” in the victory.
“It’s huge to see them step up,” DeSana said. “Our freshmen and sophomores that have been getting a lot of playing time, they were nervous about this game. I could kind of see it. But I could not be more proud of our senior leadership and all the young guys getting this invaluable experience.”
The D3 state semifinals will take place on Friday, March 13 at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth. Richard will battle Midland Dow (22-6), which bested Grand Rapids Catholic Central 3-2 in triple overtime in a quarterfinal match on Saturday. That game will begin at 11 a.m.
With a victory in the semifinals, the Pioneers would advance to the D3 state championship game, which is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday at USA Hockey Arena. Richard would face either Calumet (22-5-1) or Detroit Country Day (23-3).