Ladywood takes ‘first big game’ over GP South, 3-1
Goaltenders Samantha Erickson and Bridget Donaldson, of Ladywood and Grosse Pointe South respectively, looked nervous in the first five minutes of their game at East Side Hockey Arena in Grosse Pointe Dec. 1.
The Blazers’ Sydney Pilut scored the opening goal 4:29 into the game, a lead that held up for 25 seconds when South’s Erin Brannagan tied it. Ladywood returned that salvo another 13 seconds later at 5:04 for a 2-1 lead on Brooke Spiegel’s shot.
But what was looking to become an old-fashioned gunslingers’ shootout quickly turned into the goalies stealing the show. It was a duel of “my save’s better than your save” with shooters on both sides shaking their heads when shots didn’t go in.
Katie Hayward’s deflection over Donaldson with 6:52 left to play in the third period was the last puck to enter either net. It insured the 3-1 Ladywood win in one of the first major clashes between two expected Division 1 championship contenders when the Michigan Metro Girls High School Hockey League playoffs take place in the second week of March.
“Oh, definitely this is a good win,” said Ladywood coach Ron Predmesky. “This is our first big game of the season. We came through and played well.”
Of South, Predmesky said: “They’re just as good as ever” under their new head coach Chris Booth, who was promoted after four years as a Lady Blue Devils’ assistant coach.
“I think tonight we just outskated them,” added Predmesky. “That’s what I think won the game for us. Our legs.”
He quickly added the goaltending was the other big factor.
“Sam’s a senior, she’s our mainstay,” he said. “She plays her angles well. She’s in the right position all of the time. We made a living on her today.”
Erickson said that, after she gave up the quick lead, she had her teammates to thank for not getting in a funk.
“My team gave me a lot of positive attitude, and they got me going,” she said. “It’s what I need to do all season to help us win a championship. That’s what were aiming for – a title.”
Erickson had high praise for her counterpart Donaldson, who was a back-up tender for South last season as a sophomore.
“I’ve seen her play, but I’ve never played against her before,” she said. “She’s good.”
South coach Booth said after the game that he felt his players came out flat.
“It’s not that we played awful,” he said. “I feel we played flat. I think we weren’t moving our feet like we should have. And a lot of those 50/50 battles for the puck we didn’t win. Us coaches have to work on this more. We have to win more of these battles and take control of the play.
“But we also give credit to the other team. Ladywood has some real good players. I was impressed with them. We don’t have them (again) until the end of the season so we’re going to come back at them in the end.”
As for Donaldson’s performance, Booth was happy with it.
“I’m really proud of Bridget,” he said. “She’s come a long way. Bridget last year would get a goal scored on her and it was like the end of the road. We had to talk to her and say, ‘Be like Taylor Swift – shake it off. shake, shake if off,’ ” referring to the singer’s hit song.
“So she’s doing that. She gets a goal scored on her it’s ‘I forgot about it. It’s over with.’ Bridget kept us in it at the end when we got a couple of unfortunate penalties.”
Ladywood failed to take advantage of the 5-on-3 in large part on saves by Donaldson. The Blazers moved their record to 2-0-0 in the young season, and the Devils fell to 1-1-0.