With an All-Kensington Lakes Activities Association final in Division 2, opponents Livonia Stevenson and Hartland plenty of action this morning at Compuware Arena.
Star junior forward Dominic Lutz led the Spartans to a 5-4 victory with two goals in a crazy second period as Stevenson (23-7-1) claimed its first state title in hockey.
"We're the 43rd hockey team in Stevenson history and this is the first time a Livonia school has had a chance to play in the state final," said a hoarse coach David Mitchell. "This is not just for Stevenson, but for all the Livonia high schools. We've had some great teams and some great kids go through our program. This is great for our league."
The teams combined for six goals in the second, with the Spartans emerging with a 5-3 lead that they spent the next 17 minutes hanging onto.
Travis Harvey got the Spartans on the board first when he blasted a shot past Nick Wineka at the 4:55 mark.
Hartland (19-9-2) didn't take long to respond when Austin Flores slapped one to the left of goalie Connor Humitz 6:26 into the first period.
Stevenson got 14 shots on goal in the first period, but managed just one goal.
Chris McRae got the Eagles off to a quick start in the second period with an unassisted goal just 54 seconds off the clock for a 2-1 lead.
Lutz responded for Stevenson with his own unassisted goal, his 42nd, at the 4:30 mark to tie the score for the top-ranked Spartans.
He wasn't finished.
Lutz drilled the go-ahead goal on a left-handed blast at 7:07.
"We went down and we knew it was going to be a game," said Lutz. "We know to keep fighting. It paid off. We never doubted. The whole year, Coach Mitchell's dad kept preaching, 'Make the goalie make the save.' They have great goaltending, so you just hope something bounced in."
Shifting into another gear, the Spartans lit the lamp again on Harvey's back-hander, his second of the game for a 4-2 lead.
With the game slipping away, Hartland got a much-needed unassisted goal from Ned O'Boyle 46 seconds after Harvey's goal to trim the deficit to 4-3.
Ray Chartier, with Harvey returning the favor, added a goal to his assist at 12:48 for a 5-3 lead at the end of two.
McRae wasted little time getting the Eagles into the hunt with his second goal, 14 seconds into the third period, to make it 5-4.
In the postgame news conference Hartland coach Rick Gadwa brought captains O'Boyle, Nick Pleshakov and Justin Bailey with him.
"These are the three guys that turned Hartland hockey around," said. Gadwa. "I'm proud of them and the rest of the team. They put Hartland hockey on the map."
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.