Author: Dan O'Meara
Farmington Hills Mercy capitalized on its considerable depth, as well as its obvious talent, to win yet another girls hockey game Monday night.
The Marlins skated to their sixth consecutive victory with a 3-0 triumph over the visiting Walled Lake Wild at Eddie Edgar Arena.
Mercy (9-1-1) was in control of the puck and putting pressuring the opposing net for much of the game, outshooting the Wild by a wide margin.
"I think we've got a very deep team," coach Joe Jones said. "We've got a lot of players who can play, so we're able to take advantage of that depth.
"We played three lines all night long. We played six or seven 'D' the entire night, so we're going to keep our players fresh. I think that was the key to the game."
The teams also played in mid December; the result being a 2-2 tie. The Marlins are undefeated in 2015 and were the more dominant team in the rematch Monday.
"We were able to play with a lot of intensity," Jones said. "We were able to keep our shifts short and because of that I think we controlled the play a good part of the game."
That's where Mercy's depth comes into play and gives it a considerable edge over the competition.
"Our depth is huge," Jones said. "It's third day in a row we've played. All 21 players who were dressed played on Saturday. The girls on the fourth line played a ton, and that keeps our top line fresh.
"It makes it easier to play three days in a row. When you're able to roll that many lines with players who can play, it makes it a lot easier on all your players."
Freshman forward Maddie Rennie scored the winning goal Monday with 9:18 to play in the first period from sophomores Mary Reeber and Natalie Vaitas.
Sophomore Emily McCann made it 2-0 when she scored off a rebound at the opposite post with two minutes left in the opener. Sophomores Cassie Roberts and Maddie Jones assisted.
Senior forward Julia McAree netted the third goal 4:52 into the second period with Reeber picking up a second assist.
The Marlins spread the offense around, too. McCann and senior captains McAree and Anna Julien are go-to players, but Mercy doesn't rely on a select few to score.
"As good as our record is, we don't have anybody near the top of the league in scoring," Jones said. "(McCann and Julien) are two of the best players around. I'm not sure if either one of them is in the top 20.
"I'm fortunate; I can roll four lines when I need to and everybody can play. We don't have any 50-goal scorers, but we have a lot of depth."
Junior Caitlin Somerville was the Mercy goalie Monday and made some key saves to earn the shutout, but the team is blessed to have two good netminders, Jones said. Junior Katy Kourvaris is the other.
"Both have been playing since they were freshmen, and both have a lot of big games under their belts," Jones said, adding the two goalies alternate games. "They're a little different in style, but both have done a fantastic job for us."
Mercy being such a young team with four seniors, five juniors, nine sophomores and five freshman, Jones has been pleasantly surprised at how well the Marlins have played.
"I think I might have underestimated how good we were going to be this year," he said. "The girls have surprised me in how they've played and continued to evolve. They've gotten better and better.
"We're a young team, but we have a lot of talent. They've played a lot of hockey, and they're a mature group of girls. Their work ethic is good.
"From a chemistry standpoint, it's outstanding. The girls all seem to get along; they hang out together. I think, when you have that, you have a real chance of being successful."
Mercy is the defending Catholic League champion and will be a contender if not the favorite in the Michigan Metro Girls High School Hockey League playoffs.
The Division 1 and 2 tournaments will take place March 9-14 at Eddie Edgar. The Marlins will compete with seven other teams in D2.
Mercy will have its work cut out for it, according to Jones, but it has been consistently good throughout this season.
"We haven't slipped up," Jones said. "Every night we seem to come to play. It's been a little surprising that we've been that consistent."
Pleasantly so for the coach and the Marlins.