The Royal Ravens Hockey Team didnât get what they wanted in their Friday night preseason Exhibition vs. Howell High School, but may have gotten exactly what they needed.
The Ravens traveled to Howell undermanned, with four Ravens starters not making the trip and two more, Junior, Billy Dennis, and Sophomore, Ian Suiter, scratched, as they continue recovering from injuries. This made room for Sophomore, Nolan Bierl, and Freshmen, Gavin Klein, Sam Webster, Sam Oseid, Ethan Heckman, and Bret Cusick to step into game time roster spots.
With nine players making their first appearance in MHSAA competition, the experienced Howell squad took advantage; jumping on the Ravens in the first period, outshooting the Royal Oak club by a 13-2 margin. However, stellar play from Senior Goalie, Julian (Chewy) Luokkala, kept the deficit to only 2-0 headed into the first intermission.
Backed into a corner, the Ravens came out strong in the second , which proved to be a far more balanced contest, with Howell outshooting the Ravens by a 9-7 margin, finishing the period up only 3-0. However, the Ravens lineup took another hit as Sophomores, Ethan Kaspari and Steven Burke, each suffered injuries that would keep them out of the remainder of the game. Neither injury is believed to be serious and both players were benched strictly as a precautionary measure during this Preseason Exhibition.
Down five top-9 Forwards and one top-4 Defenseman, the Raven youngsters were thrust into action in the third period. Despite giving their best effort, the Howell teamâs size, speed, and experience, let them take a stranglehold on the game; scoring four times in the final period.
After the game, Ravens Coach Greg Paddison tipped his hat to the Howell club. âThey took our game plan and turned it on us. We wanted to set the tone and tempo in the first; but they took it to us. We wanted to win the physical game, but they won most of the battles. They played a great game.â Assistant Coach Jason Chmiel added, â[w]e didnât seem to have our legs tonight. It wasnât a lack of effort; the boys just didnât have their normal jump.â
Out of the game, the Ravens can build on a number of positives. âKler [Sean] showed a lot of promise on Defenseâ Paddison, said. âHeâs played his whole career up front and had some reservations about moving back. With experience, he will be a force to be reckoned with patrolling the blue line.â Similarly, Sophomore, Bryce Dunscombe, one of the aforementioned nine Ravens players competing in their first high school contest, made clear that he is up for the challenge of competing at this level. âBryce played wellâ said Paddison. âHe didnât shy away from contact, was responsible in the defensive zone, and demonstrated the will to compete.â
The Ravens look to get the Ravens back on track this coming Friday, when the Ravens face-off against Ann Arbor Huron at Veteranâs Memorial Arena in Dexter, as the Ravens open regular-season play at the Dexter High School Invitational. Puck-drop is 4:00 p.m.