TAYLOR, Mich. -- How is it that a team puts up 11 shots on goal and manages to win?
Superior goaltending and taking advantage of your scoring chances, few as there was.
That was Compuware’s winning formula as it beat Little Caesars by the slimmest of margins, 3-2, to win the 2012 Michigan Pee Wee Major 1999 AAA state title Sunday at the Taylor SportsPlex in Taylor, Mich.
Next stop is the USA Hockey National Championships later this month in Williamsville, N.Y.
Little Caesars out-shot Compuware 36-11, but Compuware came up with outstanding goaltending from Adrin Morales, who was named most valuable player for his terrific effort. During the championship celebration Morales heaped praise to his teammates.
“My teammates were everything. I was a little nervous before the game but I had faith in my team the whole time,” the smiling youngster said. “I made the initial saves and they were down low clearing the net around me from rebounds to opposition players in front. I could not ask for more, and the player of the game award should be shared by everyone because it was truly a team effort.”
He saved his best save for last. With 49 ticks left on the game clock, Morales stopped a shot that was headed into the far side. He stretched as far as he could and stuck his blocker out and was able to make the save.
“I could not believe I made that save,” Morales said. “After I made the save one of my teammates cleared it out for me and that was the game. We won and I am very happy.”
Compuware coach Craig Jenkins said Morales was solid throughout the week.
“He played extremely well during the entire round robin,” Jenkins said. “So I thought he deserved to get the start, especially after beating Little Caesars 2-1 in a game that was decided by a shootout.”
Jenkins felt a positive feel from his whole team coming into the championship game.
“I think our team came in with some confidence today,” Jenkins said. “I felt good about our chances going into the game.”
Confidence was hard to see in the first period as Compuware came out slow. Midway through the first period Morales displayed his first sign that he was on with a series of saves from both in front and in the slot to keep the game scoreless.
Meanwhile, Compuware was still looking for it’s first shot on goal and it finally came with 5:52 to go and the shots count now at 9-1. Little Caesars got on board less then a minute later on a goal from Andrew Andary. Following a face off in the Compuware end, Andary let go a shot from the point that beats Morales. Forward DJ Busdeker and defenseman Drew Hunter drew the assists.
The final minute was a series of plays that turned the momentum around to Compuware. With 39 seconds to play, Little Caesars scored an apparent goal, only to be waved off by the referee, who ruled the goal was scored with a kicking motion. Seventeen seconds later, Compuware got on the board on a goal from Brenden Stanko from the slot. Sasha Chmelevski drew the lone assist.
The first period came to a close deadlocked at one with Little Caesars out-shooting Compuware 16-3. Jenkins attributed the wide shot margin to the penalties his team had to kill.
“We had to kill a five minute major. The other various minor infractions called on us did not help matters either,” Jenkins said. “I thought our team dealt with the adversity well in that opening period.”
Compuware scored at 2:36 in the middle frame to go ahead for the first time. Blade Jenkins scored from in front and Luke Boka had the assist. The goal came on just their third shot of the game.
Compuware made it 3-1 at the 7:41 mark on a lucky deflection. Caleb Rule tried to make a pass in front of the net and the puck ricocheted past goaltender Joshua Pack, who had no chance on the shot. Jason Robertson assisted on the play.
Little Caesars decided to pull Pack and Ryan McInchak came in relief.
There was no other scoring, and the second period had Compuware up 3-1 and the shots now at 27-7.
Little Caesars made it 3-2 with less then four minutes to play as Morales made his only mistake, turning the puck over and Busdeker scored from in front, with Jake Transit getting the assist. But that was as close as Little Caesars could get.
Still, Little Caesars coach Scott Brickey was proud of his team’s effort.
“That’s one of the characteristic of our team,” Brickey said. “If we are down we never give up and we play the game right to the end.”
An elated winning coach, Jenkins said his team knew what to do going into the game.
“We had a game plan today and they executed it and as a coach that’s all you can ask for from your team.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.