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Heavyweight Hockey

By Craig Peterson, 01/01/20, 10:15AM EST


Weekend's lineup looks like a championship PPV


New year. New decade. New Year’s Resolutions. That means we wipe the slate with the picks, right? A fresh 0-0 record to begin 2020. Nah? I gotta eat a couple tough losses from last week’s segment? Thanks a lot Heritage and FHNE...


The Hawks and Bird Dogs pulled off big wins against No. 11 Salem and No. 26 Forest Hills Central respectively. Gotta hand it to both programs earning gutsy one-goal wins — Heritage in overtime nonetheless — and adding to their regular-season resumes.

Looking ahead to the New Year, we’ve really only got two days worth of games but damn are there some great matchups on the fight card this week! I’ve got a fistful of heavyweight bouts I wanna get to, we’re gonna bring it with the picks to open up the second half of the season. Let’s check ‘em out.




Okemos vs. Cap City

Friday, January 3rd at 8:30 p.m.

BREAKDOWN: A great Mid-Michigan matchup here in Lansing and the first of two scheduled meetings over the next six weeks between these two foes.

Okemos comes in red hot, with an 11-1-0 record and winners of nine in a row. Cooper Derath, Casen Faustyn and Max Contreras are averaging a goal per game and the Chiefs could flirt with a 20-win season when the dust settles. The schedule hasn’t been too challenging yet and South Central Conference opponent Cap City will definitely present one of the tougher challenges the Chiefs have faced thus far.

After all, the Caps are the reigning king of the capital, as the only regional champion in the Lansing area from a season ago, and one of the highest-ranked opponents on Okemos’ schedule. I like captain Grant Uyl’s play-making ability and he’s off to a nice start with two goals and eight points through the first six games. 

Ultimately, the game will be decided by the performance of Janek Levandowski between the pipes for Cap City. He’ll face a flurry from Okemos’ high-powered offense and if he can answer the challenge with his 1.96 goals against and .904 save percentage, the Caps could pull the upset here. It could happen, but I’m not counting on it. I’ll take the Chiefs’ win streak to reach double digits.


#90 Cap City


#74 Okemos





Clarkston vs. Rochester United

Saturday, January 4th at 8:00 p.m.

BREAKDOWN: Just fascinated by both of these teams. The Wolves are 7-5-0 with impressive showings against Liggett, Brighton, EGR and Flint Powers to name a few. In the other corner is a severely underrated RU squad that is so much better than their 2-8-0 record would suggest.

There’s a pretty sizable gap between these two in MyHockeyRankings but I see them much, much closer. Two very similar teams that put together two quality lines of forwards with pretty high-end top guys. Logan McGivern leads the way for the Wolves with six goals and 14 points while Matt Kanaras’ silky smooth hands and flashy moves have compiled 16 points for RU in 10 games. 

Fully expecting a high-scoring slugfest with the two teams going toe-to-toe for three tough rounds. I could see them combining for 8-10 goals worth of offense and I really like the underdog in this one.


#65 Rochester United


#34 Clarkston




Flint Powers vs. Chelsea

Saturday, January 4th at 3:00 p.m.

BREAKDOWN: When Powers dropped their opening game of the season to Lumen Christi, I thought they could be in for a bit of a down season. Then I saw them go on the road across the state, take GRCC’s best punch and counter with an impressive, hard-earned 1-1 tie against one of the best teams in the state. Senior Tyler Lawrence has some exciting moments in his game where he makes something out of nothing and how about freshman forward Kyle Barbour whose off with two goals and eight points in the first eight games of his career.

Chelsea makes the 70-mile trek up US-23 with its five-game winning streak in tow. Powers will be the second-highest ranked opponent that the Chiefs have faced this season; the other being No. 31 Woodhaven resulting in a 4-2 loss on December 5th. Chelsea’s leading scorers, Gabe Vowles and Tyler Valik, check in with 29 points apiece and account for 29 of the team’s 56 goals this season. 

I love the pace that Powers played at against GRCC last week. The Chargers’ forecheck was very effective through long stretches of that game and I just can’t forget about that. If they can replicate those efforts, I think Powers could dominate in this matchup at home.


#41 Chelsea


#42 Flint Powers





Country Day vs. Allen Park

Friday, January 3rd at 7:00 p.m.

BREAKDOWN: Huge Metro League matchup between the Yellowjackets and Jaguars. Country Day is 5-0-2 in this series and Allen Park hasn’t claimed a win in this matchup since Dec. 18, 2015, according to the Hub. 

A good measuring stick game for Allen Park, as they’ve got a couple Top-Ten teams coming up in Country Day this week and Trenton towards the end of the month. Ioannis Moutzalias is a big goaltender that can eat up a lot of the net. He’s sound enough to keep the Jags in the contest here against an opponent with a bit more firepower in the lineup. Can he hold down the fort long enough for guys like Brendan Rachfal and Joey Mocnik to generate some offense?

DCD isn’t as dominant as they’ve been the last two seasons — a 52-6-3 record en route to back-to-back D-III State Championships — but I think they were getting back on track before winter break with five straight wins. This will be both teams’ first game action in two weeks, so I’d expect sluggish legs across the board. The experience needle should slant the Jackets’ way in this one and I’m a big fan of their deep defensive corps. Because of that, I’ll ride with the defending champs to come out of break refreshed and ready.


#30 Allen Park


#10 Country Day




Calumet vs. U-D Jesuit

Friday, January 3rd at 7:00 p.m.

BREAKDOWN: U.P. teams carry a slight edge over lower peninsula teams this season, with an unofficial 8-7-1 record in games where teams make the trek north across the Mackinac Bridge. Calumet has accounted for three of those games, including two wins and the lone tie, and its next four games will add to that running total.

The Copper Kings are one of my favorite teams in '19-20 and one of two teams still unbeaten at 9-0-1 this season. They’ve got elite game breakers in Scott Loukus, Dean Loukus and Tanner Rowe, who can all bust things wide open in the blink of an eye. They’ve got reliable depth up front and on the back end. Oh, and senior Alex Studebaker is playing like the best goalie in the entire state, allowing just eight goals in seven outings and totaling five, yes five, shutouts already this season. 

On the other hand, U-D may be a bit overrated checking in at No. 13 on MyHockeyRankings. The Cubs have some talented players, and I’m a big fan of guys like Max Marquette and Blake Nowak. However, U-D as a whole has struggled with consistency looking at losses to Country Day and Gabriel Richard but then wins against Trenton and Grosse Pointe South. So I think this matchup comes down to which U-D team shows up to the Calumet Colosseum on Friday night.

If the Cubs can keep it low-scoring, they could steal this one but I’ve got Calumet operating at a clip not many can keep up with. Copper Kings run away in this one.


#13 U-D Jesuit


#6 Calumet





Trenton vs. Grosse Pointe South

Friday, January 3rd at 7:30 p.m.

BREAKDOWN: And here… we… GO! Two Top Ten teams in the state. A rematch from December 4th, where Trenton escaped with a 3-2 win, courtesy of Collin Preston’s overtime goal. He had a monster game the last time these two teams met and has been influential in the Trojans’ 6-2-1 start to the season.

South having Trenton on the ropes was a surprise in the first week of December. They were looking to bounce back under first-year coach Paul Moretz after a rough 2018-19 campaign and I didn’t quite know what to expect from the Blue Devils. They now sit at 8-2-0 coming out of winter break, and appropriately ranked seventh in the state, with stone cold finishers like Keegan Spitz, Aaron Vyletel, Adam Strehlke and Dean Therriault providing one ferocious attack. 

Trenton hasn’t quite had that same juice up front. When you factor out eight-goal, mercy-rule victories against Woodhaven, Grosse Pointe North and De La Salle, the Trojans are producing just 2.8 goals per game. While they’ve lacked some offense, senior Joey Cormier has been excellent in net with a 1.40 goals-against average and .948 save percentage, keeping the Trojans on course this season. 

I thought GPS carried the play 5-on-5 in their first go-round, and are definitely capable of doing it again. It won’t be as easy, now going on the road and coming out of winter break but I’m gonna go with the Blue Devils to follow through on the upset this time and get the W.


#7 Grosse Pointe South


#3 Trenton




Hartland vs. Livonia Stevenson

Saturday, January 4th at 7:00 p.m.

BREAKDOWN: I hate to say it, but this game just doesn’t matter. I mean it does! You’re looking at two of the best teams in the state right here. But the outcome doesn’t matter. I think they’ll both meet again in February during the KLAA Crossover game, ultimately determining the conference champion at the end of the year. Then, the potential of colliding a third time during the playoffs with a bid to the Finals on the line. I could be wrong, but I think future matchups will mean far more than this one on Saturday night.

It’ll still be must-see TV, when you consider some of the primetime players in this one. Dakota Kott is electric to watch with next-level foot speed for Hartland and Stevenson’s Seth Lause is a powerful two-way forward. I’ve got both of these guys in the early running for Dream Team at the end of the year and they alone are worth the price of admission in this one. Sprinkle in Adam Pietila and Kieran Carlile as fantastic playmakers for the Eagles offsetting the Spartans’ Nick Justice and Brenden Heard who are just as dangerous. I’ve also gotta mention Ryan Piros for Hartland. Don’t judge a book by its cover here, as the netminder plays way bigger than his size and has put together some stellar performances this season against top teams.

Stevenson carries a 3-1-0 edge in this series going back to the 2017-18 season. I think we could see plenty of offense in this one, and I’ll go with the Spartans to have just a little bit more than the home team Hartland here.


#4 Livonia Stevenson


#5 Hartland




Woooo! Alright, can’t wait to see who proves to be champs of the weekend, upsets, favorites, stunners and big finishes coming out of winter break. What’d I get wrong? What am I getting right? Tweet me and let’s talk about it!