skip navigation

State Bound: D-I

By Craig Peterson, 03/04/20, 8:01AM EST



Region 1

Traverse City West is looking for its third Regional title in six years while Reeths-Puffer is after its first since 2014. Junior Matt Herniman had a three-point night to propel the Rockets past the Bay Reps, 3-2 in the semifinal. I think RP could bring the pressure, out-possess and out-shoot the Titans in this one, generating a couple good chances. However, I also like West to weather the offensive storm with guys like freshman Mason West, who has stopped 38-of-40 shots in the postseason and Tyler Esman whose accounted for five of the team’s 11 goals in Regional action. This should be a low-scoring affair, where TC West grinds this one out and runs down the clock, winning a tight one. 

Traverse City West





Region 2

I’ve counted out the Panthers in previous playoffs and they burned me significantly, winning Regional Championships when I didn’t have them making it out of the first round. Don’t overlook West Ottawa in this one either, as they’ve been playing some of their best hockey recently. The Region is Byron Center’s to lose, as they’ve been the favorite and should still remain that way heading into Wednesday, but Levi Sall will have to be at his best game for that to hold true. Senior Luke Linart has two goals and an assist in the previous two meetings of this matchup; he’ll bring his best to the table in a pivotal third game of the season. Ultimately, BC is able to key in on him, limit him and utilize its depth to pull away late to claim its second consecutive Wooden Mitten.

West Ottawa


Byron Center



Region 3

What a story. First-year program Kalamazoo staring down the barrel at its first Regional Championship just months after becoming MHSAA compliant. A ton of firepower out of this group averaging five goals per game. The offense led by Trent Stoner and Alexander Johnson should overwhelm Mid-Michigan in this one as well but there is a path to a potential upset for the Marauders if Kzoo doesn’t handle its business. I’ve been concerned about the Eagles’ bad habit of taking costly penalties — roughly 750 minutes of infractions — and that can be the ultimate equalizer. If it’s not Carson Finney and Mid-Michigan cashing in, it will certainly be someone else before the postseason is over. Kalamazoo gets ahead, stays ahead and finishes ahead.






Region 4

Wednesday will be a rematch between Saginaw Valley opponents as Saginaw Heritage and Bay City face-off. Game 1 was a 9-0 drubbing by the Hawks back in early December but I like Game 2 to be a lot closer, at least early on. Watch this game be a 1-0 or 2-1 game after the first period with the Wolves throwing their best punch in the first 17 minutes, as Zac Lewandowski and the top half of that lineup are on fresh legs. Heritage ultimately wears them down as the game progresses and that top line of Rappuhn-Cole-Houck pulls away from Bay City again.

Saginaw Heritage


Bay City



Region 5

Another regular-season rematch between conference foes, as Brighton and Howell face off in a cross-county clash. The Bulldogs won the previous meeting 5-2, but it was the Highlanders who carried the play at 5-on-5 and the contest could have been much closer than the three-goal spread suggests. Brighton is playing some of its best hockey with a top line that’s buzzing and getting big contributions from depth guys. Stefan Frantti from Howell is the pendulum in this one. If he produces, the Highlanders win but if the Bulldogs shut him down, the Wooden Mitten goes the other direction. I’m taking Brighton in a back-and-forth thriller.






Region 6

I’m gonna eat a big ol’ pile of crow in this Region. The sub-.500 L’Anse Creuse Unified with a chance at being one of the lowest-ranked teams in the state to claim a championship on Wednesday. LCU pulled off a huge stunner over No. 33 Macomb Dakota in the Semifinals and leading scorer Jeffrey Deriemacker could play some hero hockey to pull off another upset to get his team to the Elite Eight. Juniors Justin Chevalier and Steve Myers have six points apiece in the playoffs for Rochester United though, and the boys in blue won’t be going away quietly, having won 13-of-15 games down the stretch. I smell an overtime game in the making here so settle in for a nail biter.

L’Anse Creuse Unified


Rochester United



Region 7

It’s not Birmingham Unified’s fault. The Kings have had a fine season in a competitive OAA schedule and rank in the Top 50 in the state. It’s been a really good run for BU. It’s just that DCC is an unstoppable force in Division-I. The Shamrocks are outscoring Regional opponents 17-0 and I fear this one could get out of hand quickly. Kyle Gaffney has taken off in the last month with 18 points in the last five games after being a bit snake-bitten early in the season. With him heating up in addition to the wealth of other options that CC has, opponents should duck and cover because a storm is coming.

Birmingham Unified


Detroit Catholic Central



Region 8

On paper, this looks pretty lopsided. Salem ranks 12th, Northville ranks 39th. The Rocks’ goal differential is plus-39, the Mustangs’ is minus-29. Blue has eight guys in double digits, Orange has three. It was a 2-1 game when the two teams met on Dec. 12th, despite Salem outshooting Northville 31-13 and thoroughly carrying the play. I feel like the rematch is ripe for a repeat scenario where a puck off a shin guard or fluky bounce over a stick could open the door for a Mustangs upset. The Rocks gave up four goals to Jason Crossland in the Semifinals and Northville’s Nick McInchak could create some similar magic in the championship but with six days of prep time, I like Ryan Ossenmacher’s squad to survive the scare.