Brett Tome got his sixth shutout in 10 career playoff starts in Hartland’s hockey quarterfinal victory.
FLINT — What’s it going to take for Hartland to repeat as state Division 2 hockey champion?
Brett Tome being Brett Tome should suffice.
Hartland’s senior all-state goaltender has been nearly unbeatable as the No. 1 man during two long state tournament runs. The top-ranked Eagles’ 6-0 victory over 12th-ranked Ada Forest Hills Eastern in the state quarterfinals Tuesday at Dort Federal Event Center was Tome’s sixth shutout in 10 career postseason starts.
His numbers are staggering: Only five goals against on 143 shots during those 10 games for a 0.62 goals against average and .965 save percentage.
Numbers like those will win a lot of games – and, if they continue for two more starts, a couple of state championships.
“It’s awesome having a guy like Brett back there,” senior forward Joey Larson said. “When he has confidence, our team has confidence. We all build off of it.
“Right away, you can tell if he’s on or not. It seems like he’s been on for quite some time now.”
Tome made 15 saves for his latest shutout, his third in four playoff games this season.
The goaltender isn’t the only player responsible for those numbers, of course. It’s tough for teams to generate scoring chances when they can’t get the puck away from Hartland. During his six postseason shutouts, Tome has faced an average of only 7.8 shots on goal.
But, even in games his team dominates, he still has a knack of coming up with the big save when it matters the most. Tome deprived Forest Hills Eastern of the opportunity to gain some early confidence, stopping a breakaway by Ryan Endres 2 minutes and 57 seconds into a scoreless game.
“I’m the last line of defense and I’ve been able to hold my part there,” Tome said. “That was definitely a big save, considering it was my first save. It definitely got me under my feet and ready to stop some more.”
Tome stopped a shot in close by Cure Cumming a short time later before Hartland’s offense was able to click. Brenden Tulpa opened the scoring at 8:37 of the first and Trent Krause scored 13 seconds later.
It remained a close game — at least on the scoreboard — until Hartland erupted for three goals by Grant Pietila, Larson and Owen Pietila in a 5:02 span late in the second period. Gabe Anderson scored the final goal with 4:10 left in the game.
“It’s definitely a feel-good moment right now, but we haven’t won anything yet,” Tome said. “We still have to work, we still have to beat some pretty good teams to get what we want.”
Tome should see more pucks coming his way when Hartland plays in its sixth state semifinal in the last seven years against Birmingham Brother Rice at 5 p.m. Thursday at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth.
Hartland (25-4) beat Brother Rice convincingly, 5-1, on Dec. 15, but the Warriors have been one of the state’s hottest teams since the start of February. Brother Rice (16-8-4) is 9-0-1 in its last 10 games.
“Games in November and December mean nothing in March,” Hartland coach Rick Gadwa said. “It’s the second season. Rice, look at their last month. They’re arguably the best team in D2 at this point. We’ve got to be ready for them, that’s for sure.”
The Hartland-Brother Rice winner will face the winner of Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. game between Trenton and Marquette for the Division 2 championship at 10 a.m. Saturday at USA Hockey Arena.