The MIHL Showcase features a lot of the top programs from around the state with the best players in the game, all under one roof for a three-day event at the Kennedy Recreation Center. With 23 of the top 25 programs in attendance, it is a who’s who of Michigan High School Hockey and is regularly packed with scouts from various junior, college and professional organizations.
There are 40 MI-HS schools expected to be in action, as well as the No. 1 team in Ohio, St. Ignatius, and the No. 1 team in Wisconsin, Notre Dame Academy. With three games going on at any given time from Thursday evening through Saturday night, the atmosphere in the building can feel like orchestrated madness. Close games, great coaching, fantastic pace and an electric environment. You do NOT want to miss any of the action, so I’ve got one player from every team that is worth keying in on during this weekend’s showcase.
He’s a playmaker from the back end that’s smart and maintains good positioning. Lippert has nine goals this season and logs a ton of minutes for the Eagles. I’d like to see him jump in the rush and push the back end a bit more but even so, he’s highly effective for Skyline.
Needed some work defensively when I saw him in the MDHL, but he’s got good puck skills and a nose for the net. The 5-foot-8 forward leads the Cardinals in scoring with 11 goals and they are 8-0-0 when Massy gets on the score sheet. Him, Thomas Crandell and Ben Carroll carry the water for Big Rapids.
Tendered with the NAHL Aberdeen Wings, Jentz has been a machine for the Bulldogs all season. He’s a big, strong power forward with an effortless wrist shot. Brady MacDonald has come on in the last few weeks with 12 of his 19 points coming after the New Year, making him and Jentz a very dangerous duo.
Personally, Marone is my guy, but the trio of him, Ryan Murphy and D.J. Dixon combine to be one of the best lines in MI-HS this season. I just like 5-foot-10 speedster’s ability to create plays and make things happen on the rush and execute at top speed.
A ton of potential with this Bulldogs squad and Davis is a budding star from the blue line. He’s a really good skater that can push the pace with the puck on his stick. He’s fashioned together 10 goals and 21 points, and quarterback of the power play with 12 points on the man advantage.
He’s tendered with the NAHL Maryland Black Bears and leading scorer Dean Loukus was drafted by the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit, plus Scott Loukus who’s got 108 career points. Throw in Alex Mattila who’s every bit as good and the Copper Kings are loaded with must-watch prospects.
The 6-foot defender is great patrolling the blue line with swift feet and eyes on the play as it develops. There’s a couple fantastic Cranes in the Class of 2021 with Stenman, Daniel Juzych and Jack Wineman.
Both Kyle Gaffney (Aberdeen Wings) and Enzo Tarducci (Corpus Christi IceRays) are tendered in the NAHL and Brendan Miles is back from spending the first half of the season with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. Dooley is a force below the hash marks and a bulldog around the net; likes to do the dirty work and very effective in small games situations.
Guys like Thomas are rare, with his size at 6-foot-4 and skating ability to get up and down the ice as smooth as he does. I give my 51 to Thomas, but lots of people rave about Gino Sessa as well and you really can’t go wrong with either. It’s an embarrassment of riches for the Yellowjackets when it comes to defenders.
Carries good speed through the neutral zone and can attack at a fast pace. Sikkenga is averaging a goal per game and has tallies against some of the Pioneers’ toughest opponents this season. A little more emphasis on the D-zone and he’ll really be trending as a top forward.
There’s a handful of solid forwards for the Chargers, like Joey Carpenter and Tim Washburn who are having strong campaigns. Personally, I like Lawrence and his knack for finding teammates on the rush. He makes good things happen and not shy around the boards.
He and senior Ryan Jeffreys are MI-HS’ version of Tim Duncan and David Robinson on skates. The “Twin Towers” are a force, both measuring in at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds. Kelly plays at a fast pace and has moments of explosiveness which has led to his team-high 24 goals.
Maybe an “off-the-board” pick with junior Tyler Nickelson and sophomore Nick Almassian having such nice seasons. Lowden is a little undersized but his footwork is pretty good with crisp cuts and strong pushes. He’s had a couple tough outings but also some awesome ones, so the key is consistency for the senior.
He’s been under siege this season and seen lots of pucks come his way, making 30-or-more saves in 10-of-18 starts. Fisher has a .937 save percentage and has a wide stance that eats up a lot of net; the 6-foot senior keeps Grandville in a lot of close games.
He’s tendered with NAHL Shreveport and If I’m picking, Onstott’s my Player of the Year right now. That could change, but he and junior Ryan Rollins mesh really well and Onstott is having a career year with 21 goals and 39 points in 17 games, consistently one of the best players on the ice in every outing this season.
He’s getting into penalty trouble and pressing a little too much when the team falls behind, allowing opponents to key in on him exclusively. When Bol keeps his game between the lines and plays structured hockey, the 6-foot-4 defender is awesome and can be one of the best in the 2020 Class.
He’s got a real nice burst and loves to push the pace — maybe a little too much at times. Weiss has 14 goals in 16 games, so he can be extremely effective in the offense. I will be looking for that same commitment to the defensive side of the puck and taking care of business in his own end first.
Really strong from the wing; he is a force on the forecheck, a skilled playmaker and buries the puck when he’s in space. Spitz leads GPS with 19 goals, which is pretty impressive given the amount of scorers they have in Aaron Vyletel, Adam Strehlke and Dean Therriault.
The 5-foot-11 forward is on the verge of his third straight 40-point season. He maintains an active nine-game multi-point streak heading into the showcase, basically strong-arming the Bulldogs to an 8-1-0 record. Older brother Colton Salani has been keeping pace with 19 points during that stretch as well.
Kott and the Eagles have been off a little bit as of late and the schedule only gets harder from here. He’s the key to the team’s success though, and influences Hartland immensely from the blue line. He's great at finding passing lanes and the team's leading scorer, Adam Pietila, has been on the receiving end of many of those.
Good size and fluid movements. Pietila made 43 saves against Brother Rice earlier in the year and maintains a .921 save percentage through 14 games. In a season where I don’t see any clear-cut favorites in between the pipes, the junior is certainly in the mix as one of the top netminders in the state.
He’s got a point in every game he’s played this season and I think Frantti is the most consistent player for the Highlanders. The 6-foot-1 center has 44 points in 18 games but what I like is that he’s strong defensively as well. Dominic Rossi is a solid contributor from the back end as well with 16 goals and 41 points of his own.
I would take an entire team of Brendan Finn’s on it and we would just forecheck teams to death, smother opposing offenses with relentless backchecks, constantly out-skate them and just get stuff done for 51 minutes. Love the way this kid plays and when you couple his game with skill guys like Kade Manzo and Thomas Reath, it makes for an exciting combo.
He’s like the MI-HS version of Sidney Crosby. I know, I know, I know… call me crazy if you want but his body language, the way he protects the puck, shakes defenders below the goal line and finds open guys, he’s DOMINANT with possession of the puck. Him and Nick Justice headline a loaded group of Spartans with next-level potential.
His aggressiveness and ability to be effective without the puck helped get Blasy tendered by the NAHL Austin Bruins. He’s awesome in the neutral zone reading plays as they develop, jumping into lanes forcing turnovers and putting defenders on their heels with his pace of play. Blasy coupled with rising young sophomore Billy Vansumeren make for a great duo.
He’s got 14 points in the Wildcats’ last 12 games and leads the team in scoring. Gibbs has good size, a nice shot and has made a smooth transition from D to forward this season. Maybe not the prettiest but definitely effective with possession, getting pucks through traffic to the net and creating opportunities.
He headlines a good top line with Chris Dundas and Matt Kuphal on either side. Petryla is a really, really smart player who thinks the game at a very high level. His vision and ability to create plays makes him and his linemates better, as the trio has accounted for 70 percent of the Eaglets’ offense.
I’ve heard rumors of OHL interest in Smith, which was a surprise to me at first. The more I watched the 6-foot senior, though, the more I noticed his fantastic shot, offensive awareness, aggressiveness on defense and killing penalties, and he’s having a monster year with 44 points. Still don’t know if it’s OHL potential but he’s definitely a promising prospect.
There’s a couple nice forwards in Brendan Dickinson, Cameron Barlass and Logan O’Flanagan, but Noetzel is my favorite of the bunch. He’s got a great motor and is a nice player without the puck, meaning he works his butt off to gain possession, breaks up passing lanes and finds soft areas to be a passing option.
He’s got an explosive first few strides and utilizes that speed to power his way to the net. Vazquez is a D-I-Yer and can create a lot on his own but is at his best when he can give, go and attack on the rush. He’s got at least one goal in eight of the last nine games and has the Pioneers rolling.
Some nice hands and clever moves with the puck. I’ve seen him create on the rush as well as a stationary set in-zone, so the offensive awareness is there. Kanaras provides good center support in the D-zone as well but worth keeping an eye on to see how he defends against some really talented teams.
There’s nothing quiet about 54 points in 16 games. The 6-foot senior, however, has flown under my radar a bit to put together one of the best performances of the ‘19-20 season. If Rappuhn, Matthew Cole and Ethan Houck can play well against tough opponents, their stock in the state will skyrocket over the weekend.
All the intangibles are there. Great vision, smooth hands, calm composure and a knack for making plays. I just want to see Schaum hit that second gear and utilize all those assets while playing at top speed. Quarterbacking the power play, he distributes to guys like Devan Grayshaw, who has one of the heaviest shots in the state.
The 5-foot-10 senior is a pot stirrer. Always in the mix and around the puck a lot, Metropoulos’ play has led to 26 goals and 42 points in 20 games, with 12 multi-point nights. Pace of play could be an issue, so two good tests over the weekend will be good measuring sticks for Metropoulos.
There is a lot to like about the Trojans, as they’re a young squad with a wealth of talented forwards. Charlie Douglass, Will Dawson and Carson Peters, plus Ethan Vander Roest on the blue line, but Sommerfield is my headliner because he’s been so consistent all season long. His 18 goals in 19 games is tied for the team high.
Really good lateral movement and plays a lot bigger than his 5-foot-10 frame, frustrating opposing shooters. A couple games have gotten away from the Trojans this season but Cormier has been there to keep them in it with 30-plus save performances on five separate occasions. His 1.66 goals-against average and .940 save percentage tell you everything you need to know.
He has points in all but one game for the Knights, and has only been held off the score sheet five times in 43 career games. Not a typo. Wood was easily the most dominant freshman a year ago and at it again in ‘19-20, with 44 points in 18 games. The captain can set up teammates and finish plays on his own as well, contributing to 44-of-64 team goals.
Has 11 points in eight games since the New Year, including an active seven-game point streak. Six of those marks have come on the man advantage, as Militello anchors the Eagles’ 27.5 percent effective power play unit. Eisenhower has turned the ship around after a bit of a rough start, thanks to the play of Militello and his senior classmates.
He’s a point per game guy from the blue line and I really like the way he defends in the D-zone. The 5-foot-9 righty leads by example for the Cubs and gets my attention here, but there’s a slew of noteworthy forwards as well, with Brendan Zemke, Max Marquette, Jimmy Gormley and Jake Gumbel.
An effective centerman that leads the Pilots in goals (six) and points (eight). It’s been a tough year for DLS at 2-15-0, but they’ve gotten some nice performances from Thomas Bechtell, Robert Vanderdonck and Gavin Milne at different times. Twombley started the season strong and he could get back on that track before the season ends.
It feels like Christmas. I look forward to the MIHL Showcase all year, and I’m ready to settle in and watch some great hockey. There’s TONS of great players, even more so than what I have here. So many games, so little time, but I’ll be dialed in and ready to go.
Who do you wanna see at the showcase this weekend? Tell me who I need to be watching on Twitter and let’s talk about it.
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