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Dow hockey blanks Davison, stays in contention for SVL title

By Dan Chalk MDN, 02/16/17, 8:00AM EST


Coach Dick Blasy’s Dow High hockey team is right where it hoped to be in the home stretch of the season — within striking distance of a Saginaw Valley League championship.

Jon Baillargeon and Casey LaRue scored and Jeremy Slasor earned a shutout in net as the Chargersbeat Davison 2-0 on Wednesday at the Midland Civic Arena.

The victory keeps Dow (5-1 SVL) just one game behind Flint Powers (6-0), which Blasy’s team will visit next Wednesday in the league finale.

“(If) we win, we tie for first. It gives us a chance at a Valley title,” Blasy said of the upcoming game with Powers, which is ranked No. 1 in Division 3.

In a game that had only two total power plays, Dow scored twice at even strength and outshot the Cardinals 26-18.

“I felt we got better as the game went on,” Blasy said. “In the first period, we were kind of sloppy and didn’t have a lot of energy. But our energy picked up, and our play picked up as the game went on.”

The first period featured several scoring opportunities for both teams — but no scoring and no penalties. Dow outshot the Cardinals 7-6 in the period.

The Chargers broke the scoreless tie 4:14 into the second period when Baillargeon, a junior defenseman, scored on assists by Brendan Holbrook and Jeremy Brookens. Baillargeon’s shot from outside the right circle got past Cardinals’ goalie Conner McDowell.

“Jon just came across the blue line and snapped one off,” Blasy said, adding with a smile, “I don’t know how many of us were expecting that one to go in, but it was a nice break to get things started.”

A few minutes later, Dow killed the game’s first penalty, even getting off a shorthanded shot in the process.

The Chargers ended up outshooting Davison 14-4 in the second period and put especially heavy pressure on McDowell late in the period.

In the final three minutes, Dow’s Shane Astrike hit the right post with a shot, then put another shot over the crossbar on a breakaway.

Meanwhile, a short time after Baillargeon’s goal, Slasor kept the Cardinals off the board with an excellent save on a point-blank shot by Jourdan Schmidt after Schmidt had stolen the puck.

“Jeremy (Slasor) was really sharp today,” Blasy said. “He didn’t have to bail us out too many times, but when we needed him to be big, he was big for us. He was seeing the puck really well.

“(If) they get a goal there, that gives them the momentum and maybe puts us back on our heels,” Blasy said of the difference that Slasor made with his save on Schmidt. “But because Davison never got that goal, they never had that goal to feed off of.”

The Chargers doubled their lead just 1:15 into the third period when LaRue scored from right in front of the net on a rebound, assisted by Brendan Sanders and Josh Storer.

“These days, if you want to score goals, it’s pretty rare that the first shot will go in,” Blasy noted. “You have to get that first shot on net to create second and third chances, and that line did a nice job of buzzing the net and creating chances (to set up LaRue’s goal).”

Just as Dow did in the second period, Davison got off a shorthanded shot with about two minutes left on its only power play of the game, but Slasor came up with the save.

The Cardinals pulled McDowell for an extra attacker in the final minute but to no avail.

Davison coach Doug Towler said his Cardinals (17-5-1, 4-2 SVL) lost some steam in the second period, but he also credited the Chargers.

“We struggled a little bit,” he said. “Dow did a nice job of taking away the ice on us. In the first period, we moved the puck well, which is kind of what we (tend to) do. We got sloppy as the game went on. Some of that’s us, and some of that’s (due to the play of) Dow.

“ ... You’ve got to be able to make things happen. Tonight we didn’t,” Towler added.

Dow (14-7 overall) heads to suburban Detroit to play Stoney Creek on Friday at the Onyx and Romeo on Saturday at Suburban Ice Arena.

The Chargers host Big Rapids on Friday, Feb. 24, to end the regular season. In the Division 2 pre-regional in Gladwin, they will face the Bay Area Thunder on Tuesday, Feb. 28, and the winner will take on Midland High on March 2 in a regional semifinal.