BY SAMANTHA ELLIOTT
The Grosse Ile varsity hockey schedule may look like a tough one this season, but the top guy thinks his team is ready.
Coach Jason Durbin is back on the bench for his fifth year as head coach and he is excited about the tough competition to prepare for playoffs after a long winter season.
“We’re coming off a very good year last year,” he said. “We’re gonna have a little bit tougher schedule this year and it’s going to be more challenging, but that was based on what we had done last year.”
A year ago the Red Devils fell to Chelsea in the regional final, but with many returning veterans, including a solid group of forwards, Durbin is optimistic about this season.
“I thought the team is ready for a strengthening of our schedule for this year,” Durbin said. “It’ll be a challenge and we’ll have to see how we end up doing.”
Of the group of 18, Durbin will look toward Chris Mihai, Devin Stroia, Cody Kennan and Chase Havens as strong forwards that will be relied on heavily. At the back end, Evan Napolitan and Jack Carter will help to take care of things with senior goalie Scott Lippert handling the game between the pipes.
“We’re going to rely on those four forwards to help us get some wins for this year, just like they did for us last year,” Durbin said. “We lost Blake Petterle and that was a large piece of the puzzle last year. Other guys are going to have to step up this year to help fill that void.”
It has been so far, so good for the Red Devils thus far this season. With two games under their belts as of press time, the team is 2-0 with a tight 4-3 victory over Ann Arbor Pioneer and an 8-2 rout of Gibraltar Carlson.
“I’m pleased that we were able to win both games,” Durbin said. “We haven’t played our best hockey (but) it’s early in the season so hopefully we can sharpen our passing, sharpen up our shooting and sharpen up on the defensive zone going forward.”
The Red Devils took on Ann Arbor Richard at home in their annual night-before-Thanksgiving game; a team new to the Metro League this season.
Durbin was looking forward to the competition from Richard as well as some new to the schedule local teams this season.
“This year we play Wyandotte and Allen Park,” he said. “Both of those programs have had some very good teams over the last handful of years (and) we’re going to finally get an opportunity to play both of them. We’re definitely excited to play.”