The Skyline hockey team skated into its regional opener facing a very good Pioneer hockey team on Monday night. And even though the Eagles were 18-5 coming into the game and playing well – they knocked off Milford in the final regular-season game – Skyline faced a very strong opponent in their opener.
Pioneer proved the point with an impressive 6-2 win in Monday’s pre-regional game in Chelsea to advance to Thursday’s regional game with Huron (7 p.m. in Chelsea). The River Rats, who drew a bye in the first round, are 2-22 on the season. Skyline defeated Pioneer earlier in the season in overtime.
The Pioneers are 17-10-1 on the season and skated into the playoffs playing strong hockey. The Regional final is March 3 at the Ice Cube at 7 p.m.
In Pioneer’s final regular-season game they knocked off Grosse Ile 8-5 in a game played in Trenton. After twice falling behind by three-goal margins, the Pioneers dug deep and posted a victory over the Red Devils.
Trailing 5-2 with just under 10 minutes to play in the second period, Pioneer skaters methodically wore down the Red Devils with aggressive checking and a physical style of play that created opportunities for Pioneer to created scoring chances.
Led by Jack Miling’s hat trick, the Pioneer offense then exploded with six unanswered goals. With the Pioneers trailing by a single goal at the start of the third period, Gaiden Heatley scored two power-play goals for the Pioneers when Gosse Ile was serving a 5 minute major for boarding. Jackson Roberts short blast from in front of the net with 5:50 remaining gave the Pioneers a two goal lead and effectively put the game out of reach as the Red Devils seemed to sense the dramatic momentum shift wasn’t about to reverse course.
Last Wednesday, the Pioneers nailed down a 5-3 road win against the Dearborn Unified team in a game played at the Dearborn Ice Skating Center. Pioneer scored a lone goal in the first period, but did not manage to find the back of the net again until the third period when they scored a pair of goals to go up by a 3-0 margin.
Despite being badly outshot and out chanced by the Pioneers, Dearborn gamely pecked away at the Pioneer lead and managed to tie the game with 9:21 left in the contest. Pioneer responded by taking command of the remaining minutes scoring the go ahead goal with just over 3 minutes remaining and getting the clincher as time was winding down.
After outshooting Dearborn by an 18-6 margin in the first two periods, the Pioneers unleashed a torrent of shots in the third period and out shot their host by a 28-5 margin.