“Around the State”
High School Hockey Reports and Stories from around Michigan
By Ben Szilagy
Hockey is a game that is a bit of finesse, a little bit of hard work, passion for the game and being in the right place at the right time.
I can check off three of those boxes, while a fourth lags behind.
I’ve been covering high school hockey in the state of Michigan for ten years now. If you’ve read my work at my two previous stops, let me first say thank you. Like any kid growing up, I followed and played sports.
But hockey was always an outlier.
My family is a football and basketball family. But in 1995, the Detroit Red Wings were returning to prominence and it captured a ten-year-old’s attention. The Russian Five, The Captain, and The Grind Line’s Stanley Cup final run, after Stanley Cup Final run helped me fall in love with the game. I wanted to wear the winged wheel, and I wanted to skate. Skating took hard work, and I never caught on. But that didn’t stop me. I found another way to play the game. I found roller blades and floor hockey and stuck with it for as long as I could.
After my playing career dwindled (they didn’t have roller hockey leagues after middle school) and after a long absence, I found hockey again. Like two friends who hadn’t seen each other in a while, we never skipped a beat. It was when I was at The Oakland Press, then at State Champs, and now here on the Hockey Hub. It’s taken passion, hard work and being at the right place and the right time that allows me to bring you hockey content.
I have many people to thank for the opportunities given: Jeff Kuehn and Jason Schmitt from The Oakland Press, and Tom Markowski from State Champs, and the many, many hockey coaches that have welcomed me with access into their programs over the years, and finally, the coaches and staff members here at the Hub that has allowed me to continue covering one of my favorite sports.
But enough about me…let’s dive into what we’re getting into.
Across The State is here to bring you stories from the UP to southeast Michigan, to features on players who realize their dreams and commit to play hockey beyond high school, and more content.
Let’s start with some interesting upcoming games on Friday and Saturday.
Lake Forest Academy Prep vs No. 4 Brother Rice (7-7-1): Anytime a school from out of state comes into Michigan, it grabs your attention. This is the second team to come from out state this weekend, including Bay Port (WI) vs Hancock. Brother Rice is a team that when it’s on can beat anyone. Joe Serra, Dylan McNulty, DJ Dixon and Nick Marone are all players that can get their shots off, and pucks will have to be sniped against a quality opponent like Lake Forest. This game could be a turning point for the Warriors’ season. How do they rebound after a 6-1 loss to rival Detroit Catholic Central? It’ll be a good ticket to buy and find out.
No. 1 Hartland (14-1) vs No. 6 Plymouth (11-5): The defending D2 Champs are playing extremely good hockey under Coach Gadwa and the Eagles have two players that are balanced and has helped Hartland roll in Joey Larson and Gabe Anderson. But Coach Vento has two outstanding players as well in Jack VanDenBeurgeury and Adam Rebecca. These two teams played earlier in the season, and Hartland won 4-3. But if Josh Montroy is in net, he could provide enough breathing room for the Plymouth offense to get going, and it’ll need to.
Mid Michigan (9-4-1) vs Cap City (14-2): Can the newly formed Cap City Co-op be stopped? It’s a tall task, that’s for sure. The Capitals are running away with Capital Area Activities Confrence behind the play of Ethan Bond, Derek Hamp, Ryan Gilmore and Cam VanTighem. If Mid-Michigan can get through the first period, this game could get interesting. It’s a tough task though, as Cap City has outscored its opponents 30-7 in the opening frame.
No. 1 UD Jesuit (11-3) vs No.3 Calumet (9-4): The Copper Kings were the best team in D3 for much of the season when the rankings came out, but the Cubs have surged to the top with an 11-1 start to the season. The weekend series could be a preview of what we could see come playoff time. Calumet has faced three MIHL teams and haven’t fared too well against one of the top conferences in the state. A weekend split is likely as the road trip could stifle the Cubs. But either way, this match-up is going to be fun to keep and eye on.
No. 7 Saline (11-1-1) vs No. 12 Forest Hills NE (8-5-1): The Hornets are a very balanced team and have guys that not only pepper the net in Mikhail Lozovyy but they have guys that are loaded with assists. Four players have 15 assists or more for Saline, which tells you they move the puck and pepper the net frequently. Forest Hills, on the other hand, started the year slowly but have five straight games. The Huskies are figuring things out while goaltender Brendan Bogema has still been a stalwart in net. Good offense vs a good goaltender is always a must see in my book.
No. 5 Salem (7-8) vs No. 4 Brighton (6-9): Anytime the game goes outdoors, you easily pay attention. The annual Clark Park game is incredible. If you haven’t been there before, you have to go. Located in Mexican Town the rink is well maintained and has a nice cozy set-up. Coupled with the impending snow, it will be interesting to see how both teams handle the elements. Last year this game was decided by a single goal and Salem had a power play late, but failed to capitalize on it. This should be a close game too, just make sure you bring plenty of hot chocolate to keep warm and brave the elements.
No. 1 Catholic Central (14-1) vs Lake Forest Academy Prep: CC would have made the list earlier with a great game against St. Michaels out of Ontario, but this match-up will be just as good. These games are normally set in a showcase setting, and you can’t blame them. The Shamrocks’ only loss has come at the hands of another premier team in Culver Academy out of Indiana. It’s not a secret that Catholic Central is the best team in the state of Michigan. This weekend the mitten leads with it’s best foot forward against really solid competition. Get to USA Hockey for either game (Friday or Saturday), neither game will disappoint, as the Shamrocks offense is absolutely loaded.
Traverse City West (2-10-2) vs Gaylord (5-5-2) It’s been a tough year for a very young Titan squad. Las weekend in the North/ South Showcase, the Titans earned its second win of the year, and should be eager to get back on the ice. Though it has a tough task on Friday against Alpena and stud goaltender Cooper Black, Saturday is the perfect opportunity to get back in the win column. Gaylord and West skated to a 1-1 tie earlier in the year. The Blue Devils’ Jon Allen had the lone goal, and if the Titans can shadow him, it might be able to get another win to help boost the confidence of a young team.
This is only a very small sample size of the 78 total games that are being played this weekend, and I’d really like to fit them all in the inaugural column of "Around The State". It’s why this is one of the best sports at the high school level; it’s because of the parody.
The second half of season should be full of great storylines and games as we all prepare for a playoff push. Enjoy the games!
Article published: 1/18/2019
You can follow Ben on Twitter - @BenSzilagy