Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood -- led by the Alger Brothers -- just might be able to lay claim to the title of best hockey team in the state following today's 4-2 Division 3 victory over Sault Ste. Marie at Compuware Arena in Plymouth.
Small in enrollment, the Cranes (28-2-1Ö) are big in hockey talent, winning their eighth Division 3 title since 2000Ö.
The only blemishes this season were the loss to Division 1 finalist Novi Detroit Catholic Central, 4-2 -- the Cranes later defeated CC on the way to winning the Michigan Intercollegiate Hockey League -- and a loss to Toronto Hill Academy, 4-3.
The Cranes also shut out Division 2 state champion Livonia Stevenson during the season, 7-0.
"I'll let you decide that," coach Andy Weidenbach said when asked if he had the best team in the state. "It's a good team. In the 20 years I've been coaching I've had two teams like this; one in 2005 and 2006. This team has been a special group to work with. This team is very talented."
Sophomore Austin Alger had the first goal and older brother Alex added two as Cranbrook won its first state championship since 2010. Sophomore Spencer Applebaum was solid in goal again.
"We put the Alger brothers together around the first week of December or around Thanksgiving," Weidenbach said. "They play well together. They complement each other and they wanted to play together. Spencer has been in goal for all of our big games and he came into the tournament as our top goalie."
The Cranes struck first when Austin Alger swooped in for an unassisted goal at 8:11 of the first period. The goal came after the Blue Devils were unable to get off a shot on their first power-play opportunity.
In the second period, senior forward Kevin Shand gave Cranbrook a 2-0 lead at 7:23 with assists from Andrew DeClerck and Jack Blumberg.
The Blue Devils (22-9) responded with a goal from Kyle TenEyck at 8:51, but couldn't celebrate long as celebrate Alex Alger scored on a breakaway at 10:10 -- with an assist from Billy Young -- and put Cranbrook up, 3-1.
"It was at the end of the penalty kill," Alex Alger said. "Billy Young and I ran a good forecheck and got them to turn it over at the blue line. I picked it up, made a move and cut to the short side."
The Blue Devils then gave up were hit with a power-play goal from Alex Alger, with an assist from Michael Romund, as the Cranes surged ahead, 4-1, at 11:26.
"The goals are always big, but with our line we just feed off each other; Austin and I and Billy is right there with us," Alger said. "On the first goal I caught a break. It went off me and right into the net and on the second goal I was in the right spot and Romund got me the puck on a perfect pass."
The Blue Devils' Chase Gamelin made it a two-goal game at 5:34 in the third period.
"I'm a senior and this was my last run at it," AlexAlger said. "I couldn't have asked for a better way to go out."
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.