The final game for the Pioneer girls’ hockey team was “disappointing” but the overall season was anything but for the talented and hard-working Pioneers.
The Pioneers lost 10-2 on Thursday to top-seeded Farmington Hills Mercy in a state semifinal game at Fraser Hockeyland Ice Arena. Mercy went undefeated in the league this season including a 6-5 win over Pioneer in the regular season.
It wasn’t how the Pioneers had hoped to end the season.
“(Thursday) was disappointing,” said Pioneer Coach Lea Arend. “But it wasn’t for a lack of effort or preparation. We just ran into a team that was clicking on all cylinders.”
That team ended up winning it all after knocking off Grosse Pointe South 4-2 in the Saturday’s championship game.
But one game does not define a season. The word “excellent” would define Pioneer’s season.
“We had an excellent year,” said Arend, in her first year coaching the Pioneers. “These girls have exceeded all my expectations. They got better with each practice and really came together as a cohesive group with a common goal. They lifted each other up on the bench and cheered every step of the way.”
Arend was certainly proud of the effort and results.
“I am proud of each and every one of them,” she said. “They all played an important role on this team and we got far in the state tournament because of their love of the game and each other.”
The Pioneers finished the regular season in fifth place with a 9-4-1 record. They scored 66 goals and allowed 44 in the regular season.
But success goes beyond numbers. Memories last longer than wins and losses. And experiences and growth as hockey players and people can’t be measured on a scoreboard.
“We finished the season how we started, as a family,” says Ava Millman, one of the senior leaders on the team. “During the last week of the season we came together more than we ever had before, the locker room was oozing with positive energy and we carried that onto the ice with us.
“While we did not go all the way to the championship, we still out preformed expectations! I am so incredibly proud of how much we improved as a team this year.”
Millman speaks for the whole team when she says: “This year has definitely been a turning point for Pioneer women’s ice hockey. My sophomore year we were lucky to have finished in the middle of the pack, so to have made it to a state semifinal game has really solidified our presence in the league. It was so exciting to have been a part of it all.
“As a senior, I am going to miss this organization and this team immensely, but I am so excited to see where it goes next.”
Millman led the team in scoring with 16 goals and 22 assists in 14 games for 38 points. Anna Thomas had 17 goals and 10 assists (27 points), Kayleigh Barricklow had 10 goals and 10 assists, Katie Pascoe had 12 goals and seven assists and Sara Negrin had six goals and five assists – all in 14 games.
Cody Ross had nine wins in 14 games in goal for the Pioneers. She had a 2.76 goals-against average.
The Pioneers knocked off Plymouth-Canton-Salem 5-2 in a quarterfinal game on Tuesday at the Fraser Hockeyland Ice Arena to advance to the semifinal game.