The Saginaw Heritage High School hockey team made the most of its holiday break by capturing the championship at the Scott Miller Memorial Tournament in Traverse City.
The Hawks, who came into the tournament unranked, battled stiff competition throughout the event and capped their title run with a 3-1 victory over Traverse City Central in the championship game. Heritage also beat Traverse City West, 5-2, and Plymouth Salem, 4-2, in the tournament to improve to 7-2 on the young season.
In the championship game, the Hawks controlled the play from the start. Sophomore Jacob Best netted his first high school goal with 3:32 remaining in the first period off an assist by senior captain Sam Spaedt.
The score remained 1-0 until Spaedt lit the lamp 5:44 into the second period. Matt Taylor assisted on the goal, giving Heritage a 2-0 lead.
That lead proved insurmountable, as Danny Yockey was solid in goal for Hawks. Traverse City Central finally got a puck past Yockey midway through the third period to make things interesting, but Heritage responded with a power-play goal just 44 seconds later to re-establish its two-goal lead. Brandon Ashley got the tally while Chris Cornford and Spaedt assisted.
Yockey finished the game with 17 saves, as the Hawks outshot Traverse City Central, 34-18.
Heritage opened the tournament with a 5-2 victory over Traverse City West. Freshman Brady Rappuhn led the way for the Hawks, notching a hat trick. Rappuhn scored late in the first period to break a 1-1 tie and tallied the final two goals of the contest in the third period just 14 seconds apart.
Clay Charbeneau put Heritage on top 1-0 less than seven minutes into the game. Traverse City West knotted the score four minutes later, before Rappuhn found the back of the net with the first of his three goals.
Spaedt added to the Hawks’ lead in the second period with a shorthanded goal off a feed from Ashley, who finished with three assists in the game. Heritage carried the 3-1 advantage into the final period, but a power-play goal midway through the third pulled West within a goal.
That’s when Rappuhn iced the game with goals at the 4:47 mark and at the 4:33 mark, with assists going to Spaedt and Ashley on each. Yockey picked up the win in goal for Heritage, stopping 22 of 24 shots in game, in which the Hawks held a 26-24 advantage in shots. The win did come at a price, as Heritage senior leader Mitch Wise suffered an injury that ended up keeping him out for the rest of the tournament.
The Hawks struck first against Salem as well, as Spaedt scored 7:21 into the first period. Charbeneau pushed the lead to 2-0 with a goal in the final minute of the first period.
Salem scored the lone goal of the second period, but David Helpap’s power-play goal 3:27 into the third period pushed the Heritage advantage back to two goals. Spencer Vondette earned his second assist of the game on the Helpap goal.
Salem answered less than two minutes later, but Heritage netminder Devin Wolfgang made the lead stand up. Wolfgang, seeing his first action of the season after returning from injury, stopped 22 of 24 shots in the win.
Ashley put the game away for the Hawks slotting home an empty-net goal from Spaedt. Heritage finished with a 25-24 advantage in shots.
For the tournament, Spaedt finished with three goals and five assists, while Ashley tallied two goals and four assists. The Hawks penalty kill was effective, yielding just two goals in 13 shorthanded situations, while Yockey and Wolfgang played strong between the pipes throughout the tournament.
Heritage returns to action 7 p.m. Wednesday at Saginaw-Bay Ice Arena when it hosts Midland Dow.