DEFENDING HOME ICE: GRYPHONS SMASH MILFORD 7-2
By Leo Applegate, Sports Editor for The Alcove student newspaper.
Following a 7-1 rout of Northview High School at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube on Jan. 20, the Gryphons took to the ice once more to protect their home rink, handily defeating Milford 7-2 on Jan. 21 to move to 10-2 on the season.
Milford, coming off of a 2-1 victory against Huron in overtime in their previous game, looked to continue their win streak against the Gryphons to four, having vanquished the Gryphons three years in a row prior.
However, the combined Greenhills-Father Gabriel Richard team had something else to say about that. Going into the game, the players were well aware of Milford’s recent dominance in the matchup.
“They’ve beat us three years in a row, so we’re definitely going to try and stop that from continuing,” said Ryan Kowalchik ’23. “I’d say we have a little bit of a chip on our shoulders, so we have some extra motivation in this one.”
That motivation took a little while to show at first, as neither team scored within the first 13 minutes of play. However, with four minutes exactly left in the first period, the dam would break. The Gryphons scored four unanswered goals, relentlessly attacking Milford’s defensive unit.
The onslaught began late in the first period and didn’t end until early in the third period of the game when Milford scored their first of two goals on the day. However, the Gryphons’ defense was undeterred, as they would only let up one more goal on more than 20 shots.
“Although I wasn’t playing tonight, I was still really proud of how my guys played,” said Nathan Burke ’23, one of the team’s goalies. “We knew what we had to do to lock them down, and we did it well. Our defense has been playing extremely well recently, and I think that we showed that today.”
Although leading by three goals with just over 15 minutes left in the third period, the Gryphons didn’t take their foot off of the gas, pouring on three more goals to increase their lead to 7-1.
“After about our third or fourth goal, we could tell that they got down on themselves,” said Kowalchik. “That’s when we really started to have fun, it just felt like every time we got the puck we put it in the back of the net.”
By the time Milford would score again, with just a minute and a half left in the game, it wouldn’t matter, as the game ended with a final of 7-2. The Greenhills-Father Gabriel Richard coalition dominated the scoresheet in every aspect of the game, recording more than twice the shots on goal than their opponent.
“It was just great to come out and get those back-to-back wins,” said Burke. “Especially after winning the Jilek Cup right here in the Cube.”
The Jilek Cup is hoisted by the winner of the annual tournament to determine who the best team in Ann Arbor is, as the four primary Ann Arbor high school teams compete in a four-team tournament for it at the Ice Cube.
The team won the Jilek Cup on Jan. 8 after handily beating both Ann Arbor Huron 5-1 in the tournament semifinals and pounding Skyline 8-0 in the Cup final, a feat that the Gryphons had not achieved recently.
“This year was the first time we’d won it since 2018-2019, I believe,” said Burke. “It was great because none of the guys on the team had won it in their careers before.”
Their win against Milford marks the Gryphons’ seventh consecutive victory, with their last loss coming at the hands of Grosse Ile all the way back on Dec. 14.
The Gryphons look to keep their recent success rolling into their next game, the Catholic League Semifinals at the Ice Cube on Jan. 27, with the finals on the following day.