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Short Week, Lots of Picks

By Craig Peterson, 12/26/19, 1:45PM EST


Handing Out Winners During A Holiday-Shortened Schedule

Oh, what a week it was on the Westside! Went 4-0 in the picks, put a lot of miles on the Jeep for #WestsideWeek, saw a lot of players and teams in action that I wouldn’t normally get to see. Spent time with family and friends, and hopefully you were fortunate enough to do some of the same during the holiday season.


Just four days of games this week post-Christmas and lots of teams remain inactive through the weekend before getting back after it for the second half of the season. There’s lots of top teams in action though, multiple tournaments and fantastic matchups. I’ve got my eyes on a couple big ones, so let’s continue the spirit of giving and dish out some winners for your upcoming slate of games!


Salem vs. Saginaw Heritage

Thursday, December 26th at 6:00 p.m.

BREAKDOWN: In a battle between two of the top teams in Division-I, this matchup is one Hell of a way to come out of Christmas break. Probably safe to assume neither team has skated since last weekend, unless they managed to squeeze one in on Monday. Either way, that’s a pretty lengthy time to be away and the beginning of this game could be a clunky, sloppy period or two before these two teams get their form back. 

Salem is off to their best start to a season in recent memory, undefeated against in-state opponents and 7-1-0 overall. Four-year senior Alex Schaumburger is fuel to the Rocks’ engine, playing in all three phases and owning the middle of the ice at both ends. There’s lots of options with 12 different goal scorers, of which eight have tallied multiple strikes to this point in the season. Devan Grayshaw has one of the heaviest shots I’ve ever seen, doesn’t need much room and he snaps it off almost effortlessly. Coach Ryan Ossenmacher has done a great job instilling aggressiveness in his squad, winning puck battles, having strong second and third efforts from guys along the boards. 

While Salem has eight games under its belt, Heritage has only seen game action three times this season. Coming out of the holiday break though, I don’t see game numbers being much of a factor. As I mentioned, this will impact both teams and really equal the playing field in that regard. Captain Brady Rappuhn has seven goals and 10 points in three games, including back-to-back hat tricks against Bay City and Davison. Salem has done a pretty good job limiting the opponents’ top line but guys like Rappuhn, Matthew Cole and Ethan Houck present a pretty good challenge of size and speed. 

Real close one here, starts off slow. The two teams combine for more goals in the third period alone than they do the rest of the game. I’m gonna roll with the Rocks once both teams get up to speed.


Saginaw Heritage






Forest Hills N-E vs. Forest Hills Central

Saturday, December 28th at 5:00 p.m.

BREAKDOWN: A game I’ve had circled on my calendar since Week One. The War of the Woods. On the surface, I thought FHNE could take a bit of a step back this season. When they started out the year 0-2 on opening weekend, the Husky Hawks seemed to follow my projected course for the team. However, since then, they’ve ripped off seven straight wins while allowing just nine goals in that stretch, with star power on the rise in forward Tyler Nickelson and goalie Kyler Lowden

They’re not big in stature and won’t win any dunk contests, but there’s a good five or six other forwards up front that are virtually interchangeable and bring three lines of a buzzing forecheck. Sophomore defenseman Ryan Almassian has a ton of upside as well with a knack for pushing the pace, but can skate himself into some trouble at times. He’s young, he’ll learn and I’m confident he’ll figure out the flow of the game sooner than later. That would give FHNE weapons at all three levels and could make for another deep playoff push.

For as small and fast as FHNE is, Forest Hills Central is the inverse; big and powerful. Forwards Mason Kelly and Ryan Jeffreys are a pair of twin towers measuring at 6-foot-1 up front, and are terrors around the net. The duo has combined for 48 points in just 10 games, largely because of Kelly’s 19 goals and Jeffreys’ 15 helpers. The Rangers are scoring goals in bunches too, with five-or-more tallies in each of their seven victories and they’re getting plenty of secondary scoring outside of their dynamic duo. 

Final score may not feel close on paper, but I expect the crowds to show up, the environment to be intense and for this to be an exciting one between two rivals.


Forest Hills Central


Forest Hills N-E




Marquette vs. Canton

Saturday, December 28th at 7:00 p.m.

BREAKDOWN: A pair of Division-II teams, both on the rise this season. 

Calumet and Houghton are 1A and 1B as far as U.P. teams are concerned, and the case could be made that Marquette is 1C, right there in the mix with them. The Redmen’s only losses have been one-goal games to their Northern Michigan neighbors, and the Calumet contest came down to an overtime goal. Gaetano Cammarata and Cooper Anderson have been great for Marquette, leading the way with eight and seven goals respectively. Defenseman Jakob Peterson is getting it done at both ends as well, chipping in five goals and 12 points — five coming on the man advantage — adding to the Redmen offensive attack.

Canton isn’t travelling 450 miles just to lose though. Senior Hugo Fonovic is an effective power forward whose racking up a bunch of goals (10) and sophomore Tyler Husted has carried the Chiefs in some of their biggest games this season. Their path to victory could stem from the crease in the form of Jaxon Taylor though. He’s had some spectacular performances against their toughest opponents, including a 32-save effort against Hartland and a 41-save outing against Livonia Stevenson

There’s no guarantees he’s the starter on Friday, though, as all three goalies have seen action in multiple games this season. I like the Chiefs’ chances with Taylor between the pipes and if he gets the nod, the senior is dynamic enough to at least keep the game close and interesting, giving Canton a chance against a superior opponent.

Redmen have the talent, but Chiefs don’t get blown out. I’ll take Marquette in a much closer game than the experts think. (Experts? Unless Lee Corso starts handing out picks, I don’t think any of us are experts. Ah well, sounded good anyway.)








Whew! Took the picks into the final hours but I got them in just under the clock. Can’t wait for some holiday hockey and a great slate of games this weekend. Who are you watching? Shoot me a Tweet and tell me who you’re tuning into.