By JAMES COOK
TRAVERSE CITY — It's been a long time since Warren De La Salle didn't win the Traverse City West Thanksgiving Tournament.
Traverse City Central dominated the Pilots — who had won the last eight hockey tourney titles without a single setback — with an 8-2 drubbing Saturday at Centre ICE Arena.
"I've played four years and haven't beat them," said senior forward Cooper Macdonell. "It finally came together. We finally have the team to do it. It was a proud moment for everybody."
It had been a long time since the Trojans beat the Pilots — and this win took an extra-long time as it featured 10 goals and 22 penalties. It also gives Central a 2-0 start to the season for the first time in many years.
"I don't know that they have ever lost a game in this tournament — and they've been coming for quite a number of years," Central coach Chris Givens said of the season-opening tourney. "So with that being the case, that means everyone else hasn't started the season 2-0."
Macdonell opened the scoring, but it didn't stay 1-0 for long.
Central's senior captain put the Trojans up 1-0 with a short-handed goal, but mockingly tapped Pilots forward Anthony Lipari on the head after the goal for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that immediately put Warren on the power play.
"It was 5-on-3 and they lined up pretty offensively," Macdonell said. "I knew if I got around their center, I'd have a chance at the net. Once I got there, I brought it back to my backhand and beat him."
"That goal right off the face-off was huge," Givens said. "It gives you some momentum."
Not for long.
Sixteen ticks later, the Pilots knotted the game up 1-1 on a power-play goal by Lipari.
"That was just kind of a less-than-intelligent play by me," Macdonell said of his penalty.
Central would regain the lead on Brady Girard's shot from the point that skipped up the pads of goalie Joey Lopezzi for a 2-1 lead with 6:25 left in the first.
"They beat (TC) West 5-1 and we thought it was going to be a battle," Macdonell said. "We knew we had to come to play. We set the tone in the first period, and they were never really able to get back into the game."
Goals by Alex Oliver and Cam Givens gave the Trojans a 5-2 lead heading into the third period. Givens one-timed a nifty pass from Nico Saco and Oliver deflected a Shrank shot from the point for his first varsity goal.
"That no-look backhand pass to Cam was huge for us," Chris Givens said. "That put us up 4-2 and that was big."
"I saw him opening up and knew there was nobody looking at him," Saco said. "I just passed it on my backhand, and he was open."
Earlier in the second, Givens scored when his attempt to keep the puck in the zone took a bounce and resulted in a power-play goal. Lipari scored his second of the game to make it 3-2.
"We were hungry for it — and I know they were too — but we just overwhelmed them," Saco said. "It's been a long time."
Central piled on three more goals in the first eight minutes of the third period to make it appear as if a mercy was possible.
Rhys Adle kept the puck on a 2-on-1 rush and buried a shot for a 6-2 lead assisted by Macdonnell and Derek Shrank.
Jon Russell scored his first varsity goal off Givens and Saco power-play assists to make it 7-2 and Saco buried a wrist shot for the game's final goal with 9:03 remaining.
"Actually, I whiffed on that shot," Saco said. "I was trying to go glove side, but I whiffed and it went low. But it's still a goal."
De La Salle — which was 10-16 last year against one of the state's most competitive schedules — had forward Carson Hibner ejected from the game after he ran Central goalie Billy Vermetten with 7:18 remaining.
Vermetten made 17 saves in the victory — including a nice glove save on a Chuck Ziner rebound attempt in the first period when Central was clinging to a 2-1 lead — as Central had a 34-19 advantage in shots on net.
In the consolation game, Lake Orion topped TC West 3-1.
In the second period, the Dragons took a 2-1 lead as Nolan Page scored the game's first goal and Kurt Latshaw deflected in a knuckling shot by Jordan Stross. In between, West's Max Jenner jammed in a goal out front to even it up at 1-1 off Collin Peters and Nick Schultz assists.
Lake Orion added an insurance goal with 2:25 remaining by Latshaw.
The two teams combined to go 0-for-3 on three 5-on-3 opportunities, although the Dragons did capitalize once on a West penalty for the final goal.
Carter Edmondson made 23 saves for West, making several difficult saves to keep the Titans in the contest. The Dragons' Logan Aldrich had 17 stops on 18 shots.
West is off until a Dec. 7 date at Houghton, while TC Central's next action is at Cadillac on Dec. 5.