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The Game of the Year

By Craig Peterson, 02/14/20, 9:45AM EST


#1 vs. #2 in the state face off in a matchup for the ages

It’s Week 13. Most, if not all teams have played 90 percent of their schedule, some conference champions have already been determined and only a handful of games are left to be played. We’ve seen enough to separate the contenders from the pretenders, the real from fake and top from the bottom. I’ve been pretty heavily involved with MI-HS for the last six years, and after watching more than 90 games this season, I can quite confidently say that Livonia Stevenson and Detroit Catholic Central are undeniably the two best teams in the state of Michigan. 

It’s been a long time since two teams were undisputed at the top of the heap. Even now, I’m sure detractors will make the case for Brother Rice, as they’ve defeated DCC on two separate occasions this season and tied Stevenson to begin the year. After two losses this past weekend, I think that case has been put to rest. If you don’t want to take my word for it, though, maybe MyHockeyRankings will convince you. If that’s not enough, take a straw poll of literally any grouping of coaches around the state and have them weigh in. If that’s still not enough, size up the Shamrocks’ and Spartans’ resumes for yourself and tell me otherwise. If that’s still not enough, watch them with your own eyes and I dare you to come to a different conclusion.

When Stevenson and DCC face off at USA Hockey Arena on Saturday, it’ll be the first time in a long, long time that the bonafide No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the state will square off. 

There’s been some fantastic matchups over the years, and while there have been previous meetings of teams that were ranked 1 and 2 at the time, the case could always be made for a Brighton to be No. 2, or Brother Rice to be in the mix, or Hartland was overrated or Trenton was battling injuries. Whatever the case may be, there hasn’t been such a genuine 1-vs-2 matchup that I can remember, going as far back as the 2014-15 season. No caveats, no exceptions, no disputes…

No. 2 Livonia Stevenson vs. No. 1 Detroit Catholic Central

USA Hockey Arena, 7:30 p.m.

Livonia Stevenson

Detroit Catholic Central

MyHockeyRanking: 2

MyHockeyRanking: 1

Record: 21-1-1

Record: 16-5-0

      Top Wins:

     #4 Calumet

     #5 Trenton

     #8 Hartland                 

     #9 Salem

     Top Wins:

     #1 Notre Dame (WI)

     #1 St. Ignatius (OH)

     #3 Brother Rice

     #5 Trenton


It’s the game of the year in high school hockey. The two best teams, bar none. I’m making one prediction and one prediction only this week for Petey’s Picks. We’re going to break it down like no game has ever been broken down before because that’s how monumental this matchup will be. Here. We. Go.





Ethan Waldo

Seth Lause

Jaron Anderson

Dylan Dooley

Kyle Gaffney

Blake Salamon


The top lines almost completely offset one another. For as good as Kyle Gaffney and Dylan Dooley are offensively — 30 and 31 points respectively — the Spartans’ Seth Lause and Jaron Anderson are so sound defensively. These are two of the top five forward lines in hockey right now and it’s almost an even wash. Gaffney hasn’t quite boomed on the score sheet his senior year but there’s no doubt he’s one of the most dynamic players in the game this season. 




Dominic Glenn

Ryan Teets

Brenden Heard

Tommy Shea

Anthony Dmietrevski

Jack Estfan


When Brenden Heard is on his game, he’s one of the best juniors in the state. He’s so good, he can elevate this line to play against any opponent but only when he remains within the structure Stevenson has in place. That will be the challenge for both of these lines, as Anthony Dmietrevski makes the Shamrocks’ line a legitimate threat as well. The edge goes to whoever can stay committed to the game plan and execute accordingly.




Tate Kovacs

Tanner Liptow

Jack Smith

Brendan Cwiek

Nich Borchardt

Brock Swindall


This is where Stevenson separates itself from the rest of the state. The addition of Tanner Liptow in January means there are bonafide scoring threats on all three lines. He has eight goals and 16 points in just 11 games, and when coupled with Tate Kovacs and Jack Smith, they can play with any line CC throws at them and out-play their bottom six forwards.




Michael Pochini

Noah Turner

Carson Kleven

Brett Beale

J.C. Garbacik

Kyle Miller


Both teams will get good mileage out of the fourth lines in this matchup, as they have done so all season long. Bret Beale plays with good pace and can certainly have an impact, even in a limited role. However, after watching this Spartans’ trio and how effective they were on the forecheck against Saginaw Heritage, I think coach Dave Mitchell should have a lot of confidence in his grind line in almost any situation.




Mark Stefanick

Nick Justice

Gordie Husted

Brendan Miles


Brendan Miles is the best defenseman in the state. He alone would tip the scales in favor of CC, but Gordie Husted is a stellar defender in his own right, pushing the pair over the top. What Miles is to the Class of 2020, Nick Justice is for the Class of 2021. His 42 points are in the mix for most among defensemen in the state, and he’s done it against the second hardest schedule in Michigan. The Spartans’ top pair can score, but my question heading into this matchup is how will they defend?




Ayden Adamic

Adam Heard

Enzo Tarducci

Eli Brown


There’s not much of a fall off from the Shamrocks’ top pair to the second pair. Enzo Tarducci and Eli Brown are big bodies who defend very well, and eliminate odd-man rushes before they even get started. Ayden Adamic and Adam Heard are excellent puck movers and can push the back end on the rush, I just don’t anticipate many opportunities with the way CC defends through the neutral zone.




Kyle Robertson

Paul Clark

Kaden Hemme

Griffin Goodchild


Both pairings can be efficient when put in appropriate situations. This game is going to be FAST, maybe too fast at times for this group, so the key here is simplicity. Kaden Hemme and Griffin Goodchild are big bodies but have slightly limited experience in their first years, while Kyle Robertson and Paul Clark are small, but experienced. Whichever pairing can avoid damage and limit risky situations, while eating up important minutes can provide a huge swing of momentum for their team.




Brendan Stroble

Adam Blust

Louis Finnegan


Adam Blust and Louis Finnegan are the best 1-2 punch in the state. It’s really 1a and 1b, as the two are virtually interchangeable and coach Brandon Kaleniecki has a ton of confidence in both netminders. All three goaltenders here have a goals-against average below 1.55 while playing the toughest opponents in the state! I hadn’t seen Brendan Stroble in danger at any point this season until the Heritage game. The Hawks generated some Grade-A scoring opportunities and the first-year junior was there to answer the call. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a 1-0 final, even with the abundance of scorers on the ice.

Stevenson is undefeated against in-state teams with a 19-0-1 record. That run will definitely be tested against the last program to go undefeated in-state, as one might recall that DCC finished last season with a perfect 20-0-0 record. I like the Shamrocks to keep this game low-scoring and limit the Spartans from getting loose on the rush. A lot of Stevensons’s offense comes in transition, but DCC’s defense is good enough to minimize those opportunities. Heard, Lause and Justice will generate a couple chances, but it’ll come at a premium.

I’ll take the Shamrocks to get out to an early lead, forcing Dave Mitchell’s Spartans into an uncomfortable and unfamiliar situation playing from behind for a lengthy period of time. The atmosphere will be wild, players will be intense and there may be less than 45 shots on goal between the two teams because they’re both so responsible. It’s snug right down to the wire, and an empty-netter from the neutral zone seals it for the No. 1-ranked Shamrocks.


#2 Livonia Stevenson





#1 Detroit Catholic Central





It’s THE GAME OF THE YEAR in Michigan High School Hockey and you do not want to miss it! Tweet me your predictions and what your game of the year was for the 2019-20 season.