In sports, as in life, we say things that we don’t know to be true. We say them because they “feel” true, and they’ll help us make our point. I said one of those things during our section eight preview on This Week in Wisconsin Prep Hockey.
I said that the Brookfield/CMH Stars “weren’t your typical number 8 seed.” I said it because Brookfield gave up 2.62 goals per game during the regular season, putting them in the top quarter of the state. I said it because Brookfield had a winning record. I said it because they had regular season ties with Antigo, and Homestead. And, I said it because they didn’t have a single blow out loss.
So far this postseason, the Stars have beaten 9th seeded Germantown, 3-2, and 1st seeded Homestead, 4-3.
None of that makes my point any truer though. Is Brookfield better than your typical 8th seed? Well, after beating Homestead, I checked the numbers.
|Team||Section||Record||Schedule||GPG||GAPG||1G Losses||2G Losses||3G Losses||4G Losses||5+G Losses|
(Schedule based on the US High School Hockey Online Power Rankings.)
When looking at the numbers of the 8th seeds on the season, the depth of sections six and eight are readily apparent. Oregon and Brookfield are the only two 8th seeds to score more goals per game than they allow. They are also the only two with more wins than losses.
But when you look deeper, you’ll find that Oregon had a feast-or-famine season. They had 12 wins, including some very big wins, but when they lost, the typically lost badly with six of their 10 losses coming by five goals or more.
Brookfield on the other hand was in just about every game they played. Seven of their 10 losses were by two goals or less and what set them apart from the crowd was team defense.
Their offense produced just 2.83 goals per game, which is right in line with their 8th seeded peers, but as I mentioned earlier they allowed just 2.62 goals per game, and looking at their losses, it doesn’t seem to matter if they are playing the top end teams on their schedule, or the bottom end, they only allow a couple goals.
Brookfield played five teams that were Top Ten or Honorable Mention this season. Against Antigo, they held Robins leading scorer Alex Nagel to no goals in a 2-2 tie. In a 4-1 loss to University School they kept points leaders Duncan and Hayden Brown to no goals. In a 2-2 tie to Homestead they kept Ryan Mezera, the state’s 7th leading scorer, to one goal. In a 1-0 loss to Waukesha they kept Zed Dietrich to no goals.
It was only in a 4-2 loss to Cedarburg that Brookfield allowed multiple goals from the team’s points leaders as both Tyler Fisher and Nick Martin managed to tally goals for the Bulldogs.
I talked to Brookfield/CMH coach Steve Chapin about their season.
WiPH: How are your guys feeling after upsetting Homestead?
Coach Chapin: The boys were really excited and very emotional after the game. They worked hard and refused to quit. We've been in a lot of close games this year. They never felt as if they were out of it. I was real proud of them.
WiPH: You guys got the eight seed this season, how did you feel about that going into the tournament?
CC: We accepted our seed for what it was. We're not the most talented group. We try to compensate by sticking with our game plan and grinding it out. Based on our body of work, we didn't merit a higher seed. Though we felt that we could play with any team in our sectional if given the chance. It didn't matter where we were placed. After being left out of the playoffs last year because of the [checking-from-behind] fiasco, we're happy to be back and appreciate what we have.
WiPH: You're only allowing about 2 1/2 goals per game, which is in the top 1/4 of the state (something you don't see a lot out of an 8 seed). What is your plan on defense?
CC: Like any team, we try to limit opposing shots to the outside and defend against second chance opportunities. Again, were not pretty. We're grinders with an outstanding goaltender. We block shots and do what we need to do to survive.
WiPH: In your games against ranked opponents this year, you kept Alex Nagel (Antigo), the Browns (USM) and Zed Dietrich (Waukesha) off goal column, and you held Ryan Mezera (Homestead) to just 1 goal in your regular season meeting. Do you key up on specific players on the opposing team when you know their offense runs through specific players?
CC: We don't have the talent depth to slug it out with these top teams. Yes, we are aware of who is on the ice and who we need out there to minimize the threat. We don't lock up and shadow. We play the odds when matching our 5 against theirs but nothing is individual.
Brookfield/CMH's Robby Fosdick is one of five finalists for the Wisconsin Prep Hockey Davis Drewiske Award, given to the state's top blue liner.
WiPH: Robby Fosdick is a Drewiske Award finalist. What does he bring for your squad?
CC: Robby is a very deserving candidate. He's a throwback player from an earlier era. He plays with an edge and likes to play physical. He's a smart player. He plays on and off the puck equally well. He's quick on his feet as well as with his decision making. He's one of the most coachable kids I've ever had. He's an excellent teammate. Someone at the next level is going to get a heck of a player. In my opinion, he's been the best player on the ice in most of our games. I think the world of Robby.
WiPH: Do you have anything special planned for your matchup with Springs? Nearly all their goals go through Connor Blanck and Anthony Grebe.
CC: Springs is an excellent team. No question about that. We'll go into that game with the utmost respect for them. We do for all our opponents. Every game is a challenge for us. I don't see us changing in anything we do. No changes will be made for specific players. We'll show up and play as hard as we can and within our systems. We are who we are. We know our limitations, strengths and weaknesses.
WiPH: How do you keep your guys "up" going into that game? You see a lot of let downs in high school hockey after knocking off a "big" win.
CC: Like I said, we were on the outside looking in last year. We're grateful for what we have and the time we can be together. We need no external motivation to get "up" for any game.
By the way, we have zero CFB's this year with the same players and the same drills being taught in practice...
And there you have it. Brookfield/CMH turned a lot of heads by beating Homestead on Thursday night, next in their sights are the Saint Marys Springs Ledgers. Just a quick note for Springs: This isn't your typical 8th seed.