LITTLETON, Colo. — First-year Detroit Honeybaked coach Deb Bolino and her coaching staff had a puzzle to solve at the beginning of the 2020-21 season. With pieces gathering from eight different teams, and just two returners from their state championship a year ago, Bolino and her staff worked throughout the season to find the best fit for Honeybaked.
And right before the 2021 Michigan state championship, they solved it.
“It’s always a puzzle. The entire season I’m trying to figure out which pieces go where,” Bolino said.
“These girls put in a lot of hard work and they were pretty easy to figure out.”
The pieces fit seamlessly, Bolino said, and the team’s bond and work ethic helped propel Honeybaked to a 2021 USA Hockey-Chipotle USA Girls Tier II National Championship in a 3-1 win over familiar Midwestern rival the Glenview Stars.
“I say we are puzzle pieces because we are tight and we belong together,” Bolino said. “These girls from the day we got on the ice have known they were working for themselves, working for the team and they were working for Honeybaked.”
Following a 2-1 overtime win over Colorado’s Krivo in the semifinals, Honeybaked was ready to push it to the limit, knowing their training had prepared them for whatever Glenview would throw their way.
“We knew Glenview was an outstanding team. This was actually the fourth time we’ve played them this season,” Bolino said. Honeybaked won two games against Glenview this season, both in the national tournament.
Detroit defeated Glenview 3-2 in overtime to kick off tournament play, and saved the best win for last.
Honeybaked took a 2-0 lead over Glenview after the first period of the title game Monday morning, thanks to a pair of goals from one of the team’s two returners, Chloe Makinson.
Makinson gave her team a two-goal edge with 2:36 left in the period off a sniper shot from the left faceoff circle, and Mary Snyder nearly made it a 3-0 edge seconds later on a breakaway.
“We don't care what the score is, we play our game and we need to keep trying to succeed and score,” Bolino said. “We never take our foot off the gas.”
Bolino said her team’s motto this season was ‘Us doing us,’ and a total-team effort.
“There’s not one girl that I would not put into a situation to play,” Bolino said. “Top to bottom we are strong and that is from the hard work of all the players, it was a coaching staff that cares about these girls, and really great leadership from our two returners.”
Bolino said her two returners, Makinson and Camryn Schwartz, instantly turned this hodge-podge team into a family.
“Over the course of the year we came together and we are really more like a family, it was really amazing,” Bolino said. “We are a family. All for one, one for all. Us doing us.”
Meghan McLuckie led Honeybaked with five goals through the tournament and Makinson had four goals and five assists, including two in the national championship. Olivia Lorelli, who finished the tournament with three goals and five assists, also scored for Honeybaked in the team’s 3-1 win for the national title. Schwartz had 10 saves in goal in the title game and completed the tournament with a .955 save percentage and a shutout. Honeybaked outscored opponents 27-10 throughout the tournament.
Following a first-round loss to Honeybaked, Glenview won four straight, including a 3-2 overtime win over the Princeton Tiger Lillies in the semifinals for a shot at redemption against Honeybaked in the title game.
Claire Nicgorski scored the lone goal for the Stars, assisted by Abigail Schrantz in the second period.