Throwback Thursday: Big Rapids Reaches 2009 State Finals

MISportsNow’s Throwback Thursday is looking back at northern Michigan’s greatest games, from buzzer beaters to state finals. This marks the fourth in the biweekly series.

BIG RAPIDS – Making its first appearance in a state final in a decade, the Big Rapids hockey program brought home the school’s second state runner-up finish with 4-3 loss to state powerhouse Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood in the 2009 MHSAA Division 3 title game.

One of four public school’s playing for a state championship at Plymouth’s Compuware Sports Arena that weekend, Big Rapids (17-12-1) took an early 1-0 lead in the first period on a goal from William McMullen, but trailed 2-1 after one.

The two sides combined for four goals in the second period, with Thomas Hancock registering a pair. Eric Saum recorded 20 saves in net for Big Rapids, tallying nine in the third period.

“You know, we fell one goal short,” Big Rapids coach Tim Blashill said. “As tough as it is, I’m proud of this team. I know our community and town is as well. It’s probably the farthest, our close to it that we’ve been as a program.

“It’s a great thing to see our fans, community and school supporting us like that. That helped us get to this game.”

The Cardinals reached the state title game via a 5-4 win against another Oakland County school, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, and were making their first appearance since 1999 and second in school history. Big Rapids dropped a 7-3 contest to Hancock in the 1999 Class B-C-D title game.

Big Rapids began its postseason journey just above .500 with a 12-11-1 record. The Cardinals picked up wins over Cadillac (1-0 2 OT), Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (3-1), Sault Ste. Marie (4-0) and Calumet (2-1) prior to reaching Plymouth.

Cranbrook-Kingswood has gone on to win three more state titles since that meeting, with its most recent coming in 2015. With 17 state titles to their credit, the Cranes are 17-2 all-time in state championship games.

The younger brother of Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill, Tim Blashill continues to serve as head coach at Big Rapids, a position he’s held since 2005.

Categories: Hockey