Livonia Stevenson Tops Northville, 6-3, To Start KLAA Play

Novi — The KLAA slate can be brutal at the beginning of the season, and bouncing back from a loss is even more important especially when you’re playing a two Division 1 state semifinalists in consecutive games.

Livonia Stevenson, a state semifinalist in its own right in Division 2, lost a hard fought game against Brighton in triple overtime, 3-2, last Saturday at Wallace Ice Arena during Cranbrook’s Thanksgiving tournament.

A fast start in the second period against Northville helped wash the sour taste of a loss from the Spartans’ mouth as Stevenson cruised to a 6-3 win on Friday at Novi Ice Arena.

“We knew we were coming up against a good team in Northville. They’re also off to a great start, and we knew we’d have to match their speed and intensity,” Stevenson assistant coach Jay Thompson said.

“The message is always to bounce back, no matter what. We work on mental toughness, and to deal with adversity in the best way possible. The guys rallied back both on the bench and on the ice.”

The first period didn’t go according to plan as Northville junior goaltender Nate Williams put in a great effort to stop all eight Stevenson (4-1) attempts. But it was the second period when the Spartans found the back of the net.

Senior forward Jake Beaune received the puck 6:20 into the second period from fellow senior Vinny Decina. Beaune walked the puck to the far side of the ice, and fired a low ice searing shot for a 1-0 lead.

The lead wouldn’t stand for long. Ten seconds to be exact before the Mustangs (3-1) tied the game, 1-1, on a goal by Brendan Lovette.

“We couldn’t get down, and we needed guys to stay ready, and work for that next goal. Luckily we got it, and then another pretty quickly after it too,” Beaune said.

Two goals thirty seconds apart: one from junior Josh Suzio and one from Beaune helped Stevenson extend its lead, 3-1, that it wouldn’t give up the rest of the way.

“He seems to understand the urgency of the situation or understand what’s needed. (Jake) can play simple hockey within himself or push the envelope to make a play that needs to be made,” Thompson said of his 6-foot-3 senior.

“He’s a great leader. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the ice or off the ice; he does all the little things right. He works hard in the weight room, and classroom and that hard work is translating into his game. We need our best players to play their best in big games, and he did that tonight. “

The lead grew with the help of first year player Cole Parkhurst who entered the game with one goal. The 5-foot-11 senior had a knack for being in the right place at the right time in the third period.

“Cole is a team first guy. Being a senior, he has a lot of skills, size and strength to move well on the ice. He works his tail off, and he got results tonight. Around the net there might not be anyone better on our team than him. He has a knack of getting his body in a position to get a quick shot off,” Thompson said.

After Northville got a goal from Owen Finkbeiner (his first of the year) that cut into the lead, 3-2, in the third period, Parkhurst’s ability to be around the net was in full display.

Four minutes into the period, Parkhurst floated to the far side of the night, and put away a clutch rebound for a 4-2 lead. Then he and two line mates created a full on rush seven minutes later for his second goal of the night extending the lead 5-2.

“We know that if anyone has a puck that we need to get back as quickly as we can, and we need to anticipate that too. It’s just seeing the ice, and knowing the situation to turn the puck around,” Parkhurst said.

Beaune earned his first hat trick of the season when play got chippie late in the third period. On a 4-on-3, Beaune buried a one-timer from Julian Decina (three assists) for a 6-2 lead.

Northville got a power play goal of its own with ten seconds to play from Cole Smith, his first of the year.