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Breaking Down The USHL

By Craig Peterson 05/23/2019, 8:00am EDT

Taking A Closer Look At The Top Junior League In The Country

The United States Hockey League (USHL) is the top junior league in the country and the primary launching point for players embarking on Division-I college careers. It is a complex league that has seen tremendous strides in player development over the last 10 or so years and tons of youth hockey players strive to one day compete in the USHL. However, getting there is an enormous mountain to climb, one that very few end up achieving.

I wanted to take a closer look at the USHL for a couple of reasons. First, in hopes of better understanding the league as a whole, the makeup of its players, where they come from and where they’re heading. Second, a byproduct of the first, educating those who may not know much more than the face value of the league. Finally, pairing the two together should help us all comprehend just what it takes to get there.

I examined each of the 17 teams’ rosters — including the U.S. National Development Team (USNTDP)  — on Elite Prospects and found that 628 players suited up at some point during the ‘18-19 season. I’ve learned that numbers can be called into question, so for sake of transparency, I’ve provided the Google Doc HERE so that you too can explore the numbers for yourself. To properly examine your typical USHL player, though, we’ve got to eliminate some outliers first.

Right off the top, I think it’s important to set a “minimum games played” restriction to consider a player as a member of the USHL. For sake of the article, I’m setting that requirement at five games played for the ‘18-19 season. There’s nearly 100 skaters who played less than five games this season and I want to separate them from the overall pool because a prospect who played one game during a weekend stand as a call-up should not carry the same weight as a full-time player who appeared in all 62 regular-season games. I’m setting the cap at five games  — but think this number is also open for interpretation — because I feel like that should be considered significant time in the league, as that would be roughly three weeks with a team and a compelling contribution.

Also, I think separating the USNTDP players from the overall pool is important as well. While they do compete in the USHL, these players are much more of an exception to the rule and not necessarily a ‘typical’ player in the league.

Of the 45 players to dress for the NTDP, 40 had Division-I commitments. While that is remarkable, it is a significantly higher percentage than the rest of the league in which 3-out-of-4 players have similar commitments. Couple that with the fact that every NTDPer is either an ‘01 or ‘02-birth year while the vast majority of the USHL  —  74 percent, to be exact — are ‘98, ‘99 or ‘00-birth years. When you consider those two main factors, hopefully you can see how those numbers would skew what we’re about to examine. I will, however, include a section just on the NTDP as far as player makeup.

So we’ve got our USHL sample size; 475 players, to be exact. But who are they? Let’s start with birth year...

1998 73
1999 134
2000 142
2001 88
2002 38 more than half the league (58.1 percent) consists of 18- and 19-year-olds. Worth noting, especially given the fact that the league selects many of these players at 16-years-old in the Phase-I Draft. However, the gap between draft age and playing age is more than likely explained by a large population of Minnesota high school players who finish their prep careers before pursuing life in the U-Show, but we’ll get into the State of Hockey a little bit later.

For 334 of them, the ‘18-19 campaign was their first season in the USHL. No that’s not a typo, that’s a 70 percent turnover in players from one year to another.

Another noteworthy bit is that for 334 of them, the ‘18-19 campaign was their first season in the USHL. No that’s not a typo, that’s a 70 percent turnover in players from one year to another. That does seem significant to me. Why the high ratio? Probably due to the fact that 246 of the league’s 353 college commitments are spoken for the ‘19-20 freshman class. So a large majority comes into the league for their first year and displace a large chunk that heads to the NCAA the following year.

Their destination is no surprise, but at the rate in which they’re heading to the NCAA is quite amazing to me anyways, but maybe I’m naive. Seems like quite the undertaking as a coach to refill 3-out-of-4 roster spots on your team every year. Whoa.

They’re generally 18- or 19-years-old and it’s their first year in the league (for the most part)… so where are they all coming from? Very interesting question, and the number one answer should come as no surprise with the state of Minnesota leading the way. But it does get pretty interesting after that…

Minnesota 76
Michigan 61
Illinois 30
Wisconsin 28
Ontario 23
New York 23
Massachusetts 20
New Jersey 18
Pennsylvania 17
Russia 13
Sweden 13

...Michigan being the second-most represented state in the USHL shouldn’t surprise me, but it is comforting to see the Mitten State so high on the list. Hockey folks around the country salivate over what Minnesota high school hockey is, and for good reason. It is an absolute spectacle and tremendous model that has produced 1,000s of college players, 100s of professional players and the hockey hotbed of the country for scouts looking to fill rosters. I’ve always contended that if not for AAA hockey in this state, Michigan’s high school product could rival Minny’s and be just as fruitful. These numbers I think validate those claims but with an oversaturated AAA presence, it’d be a challenge to put the genie back in the bottle in order to ever accomplish what Minnesota has done.

Interesting to point out that the top four states are in the center of the league’s map. Minnesota’s borders may not contain a USHL team but the neighboring states house nine teams and Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin each have two programs in their respective states.

It’s not just about geography when examining where a player comes from. It’s also worth noting what league propelled them into the USHL in the first place.

North American Hockey League (NAHL) 97
USHS-Minnesota 54
USHS-Prep 51
High-Performance Hockey League U16 (HPHL) 37
Tier-1 Elite Hockey League U16 (T1EHL) 37
T1EHL Elite Hockey League U18 (T1EHL) 25
Midget 17
Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) 15
Sweden 13
USHS-Wisconsin 11

These top ten leagues pushed players from the above locations directly into the USHL. Other leagues worth noting are the BCHL (nine), NCDC (seven) HPHL U18 (six), NAPHL 16U (five), NAPHL 18U (five), AJHL (three) and CCHL (three).

Michigan high school hockey had three former players in the USHL this year, which is low, as I’ve seen this number be around seven or eight in recent years. Only one (Jake Crespi, Brighton) made the jump from USHS-MI to the league while the two others — Jack Clement from Brother Rice and Alec Calvaruso from Detroit Catholic Central — made stops in the NAHL before debuting in the USHL.

I think that paints a really good overall view of the league as a whole but wanted to also break it down so that we can zero in on Michigan-born players specifically. Let’s focus on what really pertains to us here at home.

There are eight AAA organizations in addition to the 140 MI-HS teams around the state combining to promote 61 players to the USHL this season. In the spirit of full transparency, I wanted to know where these Michiganders played their final years of youth hockey before embarking on junior careers.

Honeybaked U16 9
Compuware U16 8
Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U18 6
Fox Motors U16 5
Honeybaked U18 5
Little Caesars U16 4
Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U16 3
Victory Honda U16 3
Little Caesars U18 2
Belle Tire U16 1
Compuware U18 1
Fox Motors U18 1
Meijer AAA Hockey U18 1
Meijer AAA Hockey U16 0
Belle Tire U18 0
Victory Honda U18 0


There were also six players who pursued opportunities outside the state at prep schools or other AAA entities after Michigan amateur hockey but before their junior careers.

So we’re looking at 52 MI-AAA players in the USHL during the ‘18-19 season, which, if we divide by their birth years, comes out to six ‘98s, seventeen ‘99s, seventeen ‘00s, ten ‘01s and two ‘02s. That seems to be right in line with a previous article suggesting that the eight AAA programs combine to produce about 16 USHL players each year.

Detractors will point out that AAA entities are broken up by organization as well as age group while MI-HS schools all getting lumped in together as one is “misleading.” Well, let’s chalk it up as a difference of opinion.

The way I see it, one AAA team competes against an opposing AAA team, recruiting and lobbying a certain player to skate for one organization over another. Whereas in high school, players are bound by geography, not sales pitches, and with the Michigan Developmental Hockey League (MDHL), TPH’s Top 80, Team Michigan, the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches’ Association (MHSHCA), among others, working to promote all of its players regardless of team affiliation, the high school model varies greatly from that of the AAA world.

Point being that, if I play for Honeybaked, I’m depending on that particular organization to develop, promote and advance my playing career. On the flip side, if I play for Big Rapids High School, I compete for my program in-season but I am not bound solely to that school alone for my development, promotion or advancement opportunities. I can represent all of high school hockey as part of Team Michigan and the MDHL, for instance, which develops, promotes and advances MI-HS players from across the state.

If you want to couple the U16 and U18 teams together under one program as opposed to splitting them as I have done above, I think that’s an option. However, I split them up because I think there’s value in knowing the drop-off from U16 to U18 teams.

It’d be hard to argue against playing U16 AAA. In most instances, I think the majority of hockey people would lean toward that route as opposed to being an underclassman on a high school team. The exposure and opportunities are there and a player should seize those options while they’re available to them. It’s obvious that it is a viable route to the next level given the numbers above. However, when your junior league draft year passes (the OHL’s entry draft also takes place at 16-years-old, similar to the USHL), and you’re not one of the lucky ones selected, it can be a tough pill to swallow. Eight AAA teams in the state and only 16 of those players move on to the USHL each year, what other options are out there for the 140ish teens that go undrafted? It could be highly beneficial for you to explore other avenues in order to avoid spinning your tires.

For that, I think it’s totally fair to compare MI-HS player advancement to that of U18 AAA teams in the state, as the vast majority of participants in both instances are in that 16, 17 and 18-year-old window. In that case, the three players that MI-HS has promoted to the highest junior league in the country this year is right on par with the Honeybaked (five) and Little Caesars (two) of the world. Some prospects even have the option to play out their high school careers and still play another year of U18 after graduation. Nick Blankenburg, for example, played three years for Romeo, scoring 86 goals and 161 points in 88 games, winning the Division-II state title as a senior and playing another season for Victory Honda after graduating. From there, Blankenburg spent one season in the AJHL before committing to the University of Michigan. If that’s not having your cake and eating it too, I’m not sure what is.

Now for the NTDP, I didn’t want to pour a ton of time into this because it’s just not a viable option for MI-HS players. The only kid that I've been made aware of to go directly from MI-HS to the Development Program is Cadillac's Dawson Cook in 2011, so it’s just not very practical in the circles we operate in and I don’t want to get too lost in numbers that don’t necessarily pertain to us.

However, of the 45 to appear in more than five games for Team USA, just three hailed from Michigan, with two stemming from Little Caesars and one from Honeybaked. That tied with three other states for fifth-most represented, behind New York (nine), Massachusetts (six), Illinois (five) and Minnesota (four). Prep schools were the primary feeder into Development Program, with HPHL U16 and T1EHL U16 following close behind.

Hopefully, there’s value in this and better understanding where these players come from, where they’re heading and understanding the process of getting to the USHL.

I would love to do similar breakdowns of other junior leagues like the NAHL, BCHL, AJHL, NCDC, OJHL and others. I think these leagues are much more attainable and applicable to the MI-HS player pool and such information would be better served. Starting with the USHL is important though, as it’s obviously the most recognizable junior league in the country and familiar at least in name to all youth hockey players. It is reserved for only the best of the best and to compete in such a league is extremely rare and difficult to attain. Making the jump from youth hockey to the USHL is drastic, that’s why 35 percent of the league needed to develop and play in a lower-level junior league before finally competing at the Tier-I level.

My biggest takeaway from all of this is the player turnover year-to-year. Obviously, it’s a one-year sample size but I do think it’s pretty telling and eye-opening, as I just didn’t expect that high of a number in new players from one USHL season to another. I would love to know what you get out of this data dump or what jumps out at you when breaking down the Google Doc. I’m always open to discuss things further on social media, so feel free to connect with me on Twitter!






State Tournament Predictions

By Craig Peterson 03/04/2019, 4:00pm EST

Confidence Points for the eight teams remaining in each division

Ah, what an exciting and action-packed opening week of playoffs! From starting with 138 teams, to only having eight remain in each Division as we enter the State Tournament on Tuesday. Be sure to check out this year’s Regional Champs HERE.

FULL DISCLOSURE follow-up to last week’s Regional Playoff Predictions

The Favorites: 17 Champions

Under The Radar: Four Champions

The Darkhorses: One Champion

Total Misses: Two Champions

All-in-all, a great week of worthy champions; some mainstays like DCC, Hartland, Stevenson, Trenton, Big Rapids and FHNE as well as some first timers in Petoskey, Cap City and the Bay Reps. Big shoutouts to Rochester United and Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard; two teams that proved me wrong and made us all pay for looking past them in Regionals, congrats on your well-deserved Wooden Mittens.

As we shift focus to the eight-team State Tournament, I wanted to change things up a bit and introduce Confidence Picks to the playoff projections. With so many great teams still remaining, it would be virtually impossible to limit potential contenders to just three teams in a Favorite, Under The Radar and Dark Horse format like last week. So this time around, I’ll rank teams in each division not by talent, skill or program history but by their likelihood of winning the entire tournament, given the potential matchups and path to a championship. Eight points to the ones I’m most confident in and one point to the longest shot of the division. Let’s get started…



  1. Salem: If the Rocks drew any other remaining team in the Quarterfinal, they could be as high as 5 or 6, but drawing DCC is the worst possible scenario here. The road to a D-I state title would involve wins against their three toughest opponents of the year and that is a tall task for Salem, who is 1-6-0 against teams ranked higher than them by MyHockey.
  2. Rochester United: They’ve got a major challenge in the Quarterfinals and an even bigger giant in the semis, should they survive OLSM on Wednesday. RU has had a tremendous run at 25-3-0 overall but I just don’t think there’s enough fight left to run with the big dogs.

  3. Cap City: The Cinderella of D-I, Heritage (No. 4) will be the toughest team the Capitals will have faced all year long. Jenison (No. 47) was their biggest test thus far, and that was a 5-1 loss back in December, however, if they shock the world in the Quarters there’s a chance CCC could qualify for the D-I Final.

  4. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s: I could be overvaluing the Eaglets here, as I don’t know that this is one of the stronger OLSM teams we’ve seen in recent history. However, I’m confident in their ability to get to the semis with a chance to play CC and of the eight teams in D-I, I think they’ve got the best shot — albeit a small one — to take down the favorite.

  5. Byron Center: They’ve never been “out” of a game this season. At 22-5-1, the Bulldogs have been one of the best west-side teams in ‘18-19 and all of their losses are by two-goals-or-less, so I’m confident they’ll compete with anyone they take the ice with. It’s not an easy road but a winnable game in the Quarters and another one in the semis, so look out for BC.

  6. Bay Reps: I said Byron Center could win at Ewigleben Ice Arena and they can, but I’d definitely lean towards the Bay Raps in the Wednesday matchup. I really like this Reps team and I think they’d give Heritage a better fight in a potential semifinal matchup than they did when the Hawks handled them 6-1 back in December.

  7. Saginaw Heritage: I fully expect them to be one-half of the D-I finale for a second consecutive season. I don’t think the outcome will be different than 2018 but hey, get to the title game and anything can happen! With three skilled lines, they’ll get up and down the ice with anyone left in the tournament.

  8. Detroit Catholic Central: There’s really no reason why the Shamrocks shouldn’t win the D-I title. Honestly, I think they’re three goals better than the other seven teams remaining. No disrespect meant to the field, this CC team is just that good. No team in the state has solved the Shamrocks this season and I don’t believe anyone will.



  1. Forest Hills Northern-Eastern: They’ve been living on the edge! Back-to-back overtime thrillers in the Regional semis and championship game but I think the well runs dry on Tuesday against Hartland. There’s plenty of offensive firepower in D-II and I highly doubt FHNE has the guns to go up and down the ice with the likes of Hartland, Rice and others.

  2. Port Huron Northern: Like the Husky-Hawks (is that what FHNE calls themselves?), I don’t know if PHN can score on Rice in their Quarterfinal matchup, let alone a Hartland or Trenton. It’s been a great run for Northern but a road to the finale gets real rocky here in the Elite Eight.

  3. Petoskey: They’re in unchartered waters. By my count, the program hasn’t reached this stage of the tournament in more than 20 years so they’re gonna have to elevate their game if they want to compete with the blue bloods. I think they have a small chance against Marquette in the Quarters, but they’ll need some more postseason magic to get to a title.

  4. Trenton: On paper, they’re intimidating but after watching their Regional Final I think talented squads like the ones below can out-class the Trojans. The 6-0 loss to Stevenson a month ago raises a red flag, even though I expect a closer game in the Quarterfinal rematch. Trenton is certainly capable of winning the whole thing but they could just as easily be eliminated by Tuesday.

  5. Brother Rice: I fully anticipate a rematch in the semis from the MIHL-KLAA Showcase when Hartland defeated Rice 5-1 in December. However, I expect that rematch in Plymouth to be much, much closer the second time around. If the Warriors are to make a serious run at a title, they’ll need next-level goaltending to give themselves a chance against the firepower they’d face in Elite Eight action.

  6. Livonia Stevenson: It’s gonna be boom-or-bust with the Spartans. Another team with a legitimate chance at the D-II title but could just as easily be knocked out by Trenton on Tuesday. They’ve already beaten the Trojans and Hartland — twice — but throw that out the window in playoff rematches. I like their chances a lot but it’ll require three intense games to get it done; a much tougher grind than I think other contenders would have.

  7. Marquette: I said before the tournament started, if there’s one team in D-II I don’t want to face, it’s the Redmen and I’m sticking to it. They’re “U.P. tough” with a stingy defensive effort that allows less than two goals against per game and will bring the support of an entire peninsula with them to Plymouth. They’re not the best team in the division but Marquette may be the hungriest, most balanced team in the field with a great path to the title.

  8. Hartland: Maybe they shouldn’t be the favorite. Losses to Trenton and Stevenson, I don’t know… Literally 4 through 8 could be interchangeable in D-II but the Eagles are the most talented of the group, with the best goalie among the eight, arguably the easiest road and a title to defend in a fourth straight trip to Plymouth. Why WOULDN’T they be the favorite?



  1. East Grand Rapids: It’s not so much their Quarterfinal matchup that hinders their chances but the potential Semifinal draw that has me concerned about the Pioneers’ title hopes. Big Rapids will be a tall task on Wednesday and the winner of Country Day/U-D at Plymouth would be monumental. I just don’t know if East has enough gas left to get to a title, let alone bring it home.

  2. Big Rapids: Same concerns as above, but the Cardinals won me over with their Regional Championship run so much so that I’m looking at them to knock off EGR in the Quarters. I didn’t think they had enough firepower to make it this far… and then they hung a six-spot on Dow and an eight-spot on Powers. Their top is really good but depth may be what holds them back in Plymouth.

  3. Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard: Their path isn’t as rough as some others in D-III, and the Irish have played stellar in the playoffs so far. The Quarterfinal matchup is pretty balanced and could go either way but if they survive the Battle of Gabriel Richards, coach Clint Robert will have to push his kids to the next level if they’re going to hold their own with the competition at USA Hockey Arena.

  4. Riverview Gabriel Richard: I’m giving the Pioneers a slight edge in that Quarterfinal, as they’ve played a tougher slate in ‘18-19, priming them for this time of year. I still don’t think there’s enough steam to get over the next hump but GR has played Alpena and Country Day — twice — tough enough to prove they can skate with everyone remaining in the D-III playoffs.

  5. U-D Jesuit: I like the Cubs a lot. I hate their Quarterfinal matchup more though. This is another boom-or-bust as U-D could potentially win it all or they could be cut out of the playoff picture by Wednesday. I do believe whoever wins that tilt will be one-half of the D-III finale and most likely be the favorite to win against whoever comes from the other half of the bracket.

  6. Houghton: Their top is really good and may be the best among the eight teams remaining but a path to a title would involve going through the two best goalies in high school hockey. This time of year in a matchup between high-powered offenses and stingy goaltending, I’m giving the nod to the netminders here but you could swap 5-6-7-8 and wouldn’t get an argument from me.

  7. Alpena: I’ll admit, I’m picking with my heart on this one. They’ve been a great story all year long but they have certainly earned every bit of it on the ice, building up an impressive resume. If the Wildcats get to the D-III final, we could end up playing all night long because I don’t know if anyone’s scoring in a Cooper Black v. Sam Evola showdown.

  8. Detroit Country Day: If there’s a reason why they shouldn’t be the favorite, please let me know. For starters, they don’t have to play Woodhaven, a team that’s handed the Yellowjackets two of their four losses, so that’s a big plus! In all seriousness though, I think they’re one of the most complete teams I’ve seen this season playing in front of the best goalie in the state. That U-D matchup is certainly the biggest concern but I think that game could be quite similar to DCD’s’ low-scoring affair with Cranbrook earlier in the playoffs.

Well, this is it folks! Whether you win or lose, it’s the final week of the season for everyone remaining. I wish all teams nothing but the best down the stretch here. Take some time to truly enjoy the little moments this week and appreciate what you’ve accomplished. Only three teams earn the privilege of ending their seasons — and in some instances, careers — with a victory, so make the most of final practices, bus rides and memories with the boys while you can!

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter and argue my picks 140 characters at a time! 



State Bound!

By Craig Peterson 03/03/2019, 10:30am EST

All 24 Regional Champions heading to the state tournament

Regional playoffs concluded on Saturday evening, as we've crowned 24 new champions bound for the State Tournament slated to begin on Tuesday. Check out all of our champions as they enter the Elite Eight.

DIVISION-I Champions


REGION 1: Bay Reps

The Reps carried their late-season momentum into regionals, allowing just one goal against in each of their three playoff games. It has been nine games since the Reps have allowed more than one goal in a game and that stingy defensive effort has mounted 11 consecutive wins. That streak has led to the co-op program’s first regional title (I think? Feel free to call me out if I’m wrong).

REGION 2: Byron Center

The Bulldogs scored three unanswered goals to cap off the come-from-behind 5-3 win in the regional championship against Jenison. Byron Center relied on five different goal scorers in the finale and have now gotten strikes from 12 different players already in the postseason.

REGION 3: Capital City

In its first year as a co-op, Cap City is heading to the Elite Eight after a thrilling 3-2 victory over Lowell/Caledonia. the Capitals have won two different one-goal games in the final moments of regulation, as senior defenseman Cam Van Tighem has led the charge with three goals and 10 points in the playoffs.

REGION 4: Saginaw Heritage

An offensive surge led the Hawks to a second consecutive regional title, scoring 23 goals in their three-game run. Matthew Cole and Brady Rappuhn lead the way for Heritage with eight points apiece and 15-of-18 skaters have picked up at least a point thus far in the playoffs.

REGION 5: Orchard Lake St. Mary’s

Multi-point nights from Preston Hazelton and Bryce Kallen propelled the Eaglets past Brighton 2-1 in the regional semifinal, both credited with a goal and an assist en route to knocking off defending D-I state champ. OLSM rolled in the final to claim its first regional championship since the 2011-12 season.

REGION 6: Rochester United

The biggest shocker in D-I, Rochester United upset Utica Eisenhower in Round 1 and then shocked regional favorite Macomb Dakota in the championship with a late third-period goal. Domenico Munaco has been strong between the pipes, turning away 35-of-37 shots faced in those two games with Mantzios, Streng and Zyrek leading the offensive attack.


REGION 7: Detroit Catholic Central

The Shamrocks outscored regional opponents 21-to-3, posting back-to-back shutouts in the semis and championship game. In fact, DCC hasn’t surrendered a goal against since the 13:38 mark of the third period in Round 1 and has gotten contributions from plenty of guys up front, with Zach Borchardt leading the way with seven points.

REGION 8: Salem

The Rocks return to the State Tournament in dramatic fashion, as senior Logan Sowa scored the game-winning goal in overtime to eliminate Northville and claim the program’s first regional title in four years. Salem will face its biggest test of the season next week in a rematch from when DCC eliminated the Rocks in the first round of last year’s playoffs.




REGION 9: Marquette

The Redmen are rolling! It only took two wins to claim the regional title but they did it in impressive fashion, posting consecutive shutouts against Kingsford and Escanaba. Tanner Phillips kicked off the postseason with a hat trick and Marquette will look to him to continue that success in the State Playoffs.

REGION 10: Petoskey

They survived Traverse City Central the first night of the tournament with a come-from-behind third-period victory thanks to Kyle Hebner’s three-point night. Petoskey then rolled in the championship game, eliminating Mona Shores 7-3 to win the first title in the players’ lifetime (MHSAA records indicate no regional championships for the program since 2000).

REGION 11: Forest Hills Northern-Eastern

Well, well, well… Make it four consecutive trips to the State Tournament for FHNE, as they pull off back-to-back OT thrillers to keep their season alive. Gabriel Gunneson scored in quadruple overtime to knock off Portage Northern 2-1 in the semis and Reed Almaissian scored the lone goal in double overtime to defeat Grand Rapids Christian in the championship game.

REGION 12: Hartland

The defending D-II champs are a runaway train right now and poised to repeat, flexing on the region with a 25-to-1 goal differential in three tournament games. No stats on The Hub for the boys, but it’s a talented squad and I’m sure there’s a wealth of contributors to that offensive onslaught.

REGION 13: Brother Rice

Not a fan of the stoic faces here, boys! I know you’ve got other aspirations but you just won a wooden mitten, it is okay to enjoy the moment. Reserving a spot in the State Tournament for a fifth consecutive season, the Warriors are a serious contender for a title in 2019. With wins of 8-2 and 6-1, Rice handled their region with ease but competition is sure to pick up next week, as D-II is yet again the most competitive of the three divisions.

REGION 14: Port Huron Northern

Back in the State Tournament after a five-year absence, the Huskies claimed the regional title in stunning fashion, a 3-2 double-overtime victory against Stoney Creek. That sets the table for an MIHL grudge match in the quarterfinals, as PHN will look to get its first win of the season against Rice on Tuesday.

REGION 15: Livonia Stevenson

Make it five straight Regional Championships for the Spartans with consecutive wins over fellow KLAA schools Plymouth and Howell. FOUR different players have recorded multi-point games already in the postseason, and Stevenson will square off against Trenton (again) in what is sure to be a battle of postseason heavyweights.

REGION 16: Trenton

The program’s first back-to-back regional championships since 2009 and 2010, Coach Chad Clements has the Trojans back in a big way. They survived a first-round hiccup with Ann Arbor Pioneer but Trenton has plenty of sharp shooters like Nolan Szczepaniak, Brandon Clark and Ethan Holt to score goals in bunches, especially against the top teams at the State Tournament. Also, someone’s gotta explain the bleached blonde hair to me. I know its tradition this time of year but there’s gotta be an origin story behind it and how it started, no?




REGION 17: Houghton

It’s a damn shame one of these two powerhouses have to be eliminated from the playoffs so soon. The eighth ranked team in the state, Houghton, had just enough left to stave off a late comeback by the fifth-ranked team in the state, Calumet, as the Gremlins win the Regional Final 3-2. The win sets the table for a big quarterfinal against Alpena.

REGION 18: Alpena

Can anyone crack Cooper Black? The Wildcats goaltender has allowed just seven goals against in his last 11 games and has given up three goals just once all year. With offensive contributions from Colby Plowman, Kyle VanDusen and Owen Limback, Alpena is gonna be one tough out in the State Tournament next week.

REGION 19: Big Rapids

Big Rapids with the big upsets! First, the Cardinals eliminated regional contender Midland Dow in impressive fashion 6-2, and then handled regional favorite Flint Powers with an 8-goal onslaught. Coach Tim Blashill has quietly built a Northern Michigan powerhouse with their third straight regional title, as they get set to face East Grand Rapids in the quarters.

REGION 20: East Grand Rapids

The Pioneers pulled off a 5-4 thriller to defeat Grand Rapids Catholic Central in the semis and then rolled in the regional finale to claim their first title since the ‘12-13 season. Credit senior Colin Stecco and his 13 multi-point games for EGR as they look to continue their playoff run.


REGION 21: Detroit Country Day

Last year’s Mr. Hockey, Sam Evola, gets all the attention for the Yellowjackets but this is one of the most complete teams in the entire state, as they look poised to return to Plymouth. Credit coach Frank Novock with a fantastic job; a great goalie can take you a long way but having systems and structure in place leads to a big win over Cranbrook in the semis and back-to-back regional titles.

REGION 22: U-D Jesuit

Taking care of business like none other this week, U-D posted back-to-back shutouts to get to the championship and then handled University Liggett 9-1 to punch the Cubs’ ticket to the State Tournament. It is their first regional championship since 2016 and U-D looks to carry that momentum into next week’s matchup with defending D-III champ Country Day.

REGION 23: Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard

After a big upset in Round 1, knocking off Allen Park 4-3, the Irish dominated their next two games — both by a score of 6-0 — against Chelsea and Cabrini. Quite possibly the biggest surprise of D-III, first-year coach Clint Robert’s squad looks to continue the role of spoiler at States next week.

REGION 24: Riverview Gabriel Richard

Top dogs getting it done for the Pioneers, as Nathan Vazquez and Chance DeSana lead the boys to a second consecutive regional championship. Don’t look now, but they’ve won seven of their last eight and will be itching for a return trip to Plymouth.


Only eight teams remain in each of the three divisions with the Final Four and Championship games in sight. We are in the home stretch of the season and just three teams will get to end their '18-19 season with a victory. Best of luck to all remaining teams!