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Recent Region 19 News

Big Day for Alumni at Entry Draft

By Craig Peterson 07/21/2020, 8:00pm EDT

Banner Year for MI-HS Players Heading to the NAHL

In a year where 10 Michigan High School Hockey players signed North American Hockey League (NAHL) tender agreements to play the 2020-21 season in the United States’ top Tier-II junior league, 10 additional players with ties to MI-HS were also selected on Tuesday during the league’s entry draft. 2020 proved to be a banner year for MI-HS hockey, with a record number of NAHL tenders and draft picks in a single season.

To recap the 10 players already committed to NAHL teams prior to the entry draft…

Additionally, four more players active in MI-HS last season were selected on Tuesday, including Howell’s Stefan Frantti with the 68th pick (Minnesota Wilderness), Midland’s Matthew Babinski with the 70th pick (Chippewa Steel), Saginaw Heritage’s 2020 Mr. Hockey Recipient Brady Rappuhn with the 85th pick (New Mexico Wolves) and Country Day’s Logan Gotinsky with the 116th pick (Shreveport Mudbugs). 

After spending the 2019-20 season in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), both the 2019 Mr. Hockey recipient Joey Larson out of Hartland and Dawson McKay from Houghton were chosen with the eighth overall (Jamestown Rebels) and 81st overall (Lone Star Brahmas) picks respectively.

Kingsford’s Daunte Fortner and Lake Orion’s Gabe Potyk both forgoed their senior seasons to begin their respective junior hockey careers in the 2018-19 season. Two years later, both Fortner and Potyk were selected with the 135th pick (Lone Star Brahmas) and the 222nd pick (Corpus Christi Ice Rays).

Lastly, Luke Beerman from Marquette and Parker Rey of Flint Powers were several seasons removed from their sophomore years with their respective schools, yet both were called on draft day with the 35th pick (Lone Star Brahmas) and 177th pick (Kenai River Brown Bears). 

In total, 14 current MI-HS players from the 2019-20 season are slated to make the jump to the NAHL this fall for their first taste of junior hockey. Six more alumni in the midst of their junior careers will also have NAHL options for the 2020-21 season, bringing the total to 20 MI-HS players joining the league this fall.

Did I miss anyone? Let’s talk about it on Twitter to keep tabs on these alumni and all MI-HS players moving on to junior hockey this fall.


Craig Peterson’s comments and opinions are that of his own, and are in no way directly tied to that of the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches’ Association (MHSHCA), its member coaches, or board members. Any questions, comments or concerns regarding his work can be addressed directly to the author of the article.






Mock Draft: NAHL

By Craig Peterson 05/09/2020, 8:00am EDT

Players Still On The Board Heading into Three-Round Event

In April, the NAHL amended its 2020 Draft proceedings due to the impacts of COVID-19 and the ripple effect it’s had on organizations’ offseasons. Because of that, the league decided to add a supplemental draft with three rounds on May 11th, with the standard entry draft taking place on July 21st. The ‘draft before the draft’ affords teams the opportunity to begin filling out camp rosters and addressing needs as an alternative with the status of pre-draft camps and combines currently hanging in the balance.

With the use of NAHL tender agreements, several of MI-HS hockey’s top prospects are already spoken for and have signed with various league teams, slated to join them in the fall. Here’s a quick recap of whose already off the board and where they’re heading…



Luke Blasy, Senior Forward, Midland Dow

Tendered with the Austin Bruins on November 16, 2019


Kyle Gaffney, Senior Forward, Detroit Catholic Central

Tendered with the Aberdeen Wings on November 1, 2019


Will Jentz, Senior Forward, Brighton

Tendered with the Aberdeen Wings on November 21, 2019


Daniel Juzych, Senior Defenseman, Cranbrook

Tendered with the Fairbanks IceDogs on February 22, 2020


Dakota Kott, Senior Defenseman, Hartland

Tendered with the Jamestown Rebels on February 11, 2020


Brendan Miles, Senior Defenseman, Detroit Catholic Central

Tendered with the Fairbanks IceDogs on March 20, 2020


Jacob Onstott, Senior Forward, Grand Rapids Catholic Central

Tendered with the Shreveport Mudbugs on November 14, 2019


Tanner Rowe, Junior Forward, Calumet

Tendered with the Maryland Black Bears on November 28, 2019


Enzo Tarducci, Senior Defenseman, Detroit Catholic Central

Tendered with the Corpus Christi IceRays on November 8, 2019


Jacob Thomas, Senior Defenseman, Detroit Country Day

Tendered with the Amarillo Bulls on March 23, 2020



1. Dylan Dooley, Detroit Catholic Central

Senior Forward, 2001

He’s certainly got the size and strength for the NAHL, and could see him plugging right into a third-line checking unit type of role. Dooley scored 20 goals and 43 points on the Shamrocks’ top line this season; he’s a force below the hash marks and around the net in close quarters. As the best unsigned player in MI-HS, he’ll be playing junior hockey next year, the only question is where he lands.


2. Seth Lause, Livonia Stevenson

Senior Forward, 2001

My personal favorite on this list, Lause brings just as much value to a locker room as he does to the ice. He’s a low-maintenance, ‘yes, coach’ type of guy who would run through a brick wall for his team. He's got an extremely high hockey IQ and understands the game, great puck skills and a quick release. Can be used in a variety of roles in the lineup. 


3. Brady Rappuhn, Saginaw Heritage

Senior Forward, 2001

High school’s reigning Mr. Hockey, Rappuhn has a finisher’s touch and a quick release. Around the net, he’s a slam dunk, producing 44 goals and 89 points in 28 games his senior season. Give him an open look and it’s over. His frame is good at 6-foot, and as he develops and fills out, he’ll round out into a strong forward at the next level.


4. Matthew Babinski, Midland

Senior Forward, 2002

Another kid with the size and speed to fit at the NAHL level. Babinski functions at a fast pace and makes plays on the move that few can in high school. His senior season was cut short due to injuries, which is why I think he’s flown under some people’s radar to this point. Babinski put up 30 points in just 11 games for the Chemics this season, 36 in 49 for the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies’ 16U team last season, and 50+ as a sophomore for Midland. Kid produces everywhere he goes. 


5. Adam Blust, Detroit Catholic Central

Senior Goalie, 2002

Unpopular opinion: CC goalies were some of the most overshadowed players in MI-HS this season. Blust had a 1.27 goals-against average and .933 save percentage — while counterpart Louis Finnegan had a 1.26 and .918 — which quickly gets dismissed by the stacked team they played behind. Blust is rock solid though, rarely in distress and has great potential. If he lands in a good situation, the ‘02 netminder’s value could totally take off.


6. Scott Loukus, Calumet

Senior Forward, 2001

A lot of U.P. kids tend to migrate towards the western Canadian leagues like the AJHL, MJHL and SJHL, and I could see Loukus follow that same arc. However, he’s still fully capable of landing with an NAHL team come Tuesday. He’s a little light, but all it takes is a good offseason to fill Loukus out into a heavier, stronger player. What I love is his ability to carve through opponents at top speed — ‘run through the smoke’ as they say in football — and maintain possession of the puck with his head up. 


7. Joey Cormier, Trenton

Senior Goalie, 2001

What’s different about Cormier than some of the other top goalie prospects to come out of MI-HS most recently? At 5-foot-10, he fits a similar mold to the Sam Evola’s and Will Tragge’s that have come before him. However, the three-year netminder plays with a tremendous aggressiveness towards shooters to compensate for any perceived size discrepancies. He’s got great body control and almost seems to be at his best when under siege.


8. Krzysztof Petryla, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s

Senior Forward, 2001

'Cerebral' is the only word in the English language that does Petryla justice. He's very intelligent on the ice. Petryla is a big-time playmaker whose consistently a step ahead of the play. In two seasons with the Eaglets, he posted 29 goals and 74 points. As a native of Poland, a team may have to utilize one of its imports to bring in Petryla but as smart and fast as he can play, it’d be well worth the investment.


9. Gino Sessa, Detroit Country Day

Senior Defenseman, 2002

Much of the attention at Yellowjackets games was directed toward Thomas as a big-bodied D-man, but his counterpart in Sessa is just as capable of reaching the next level. He has decent size at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, and is an agile defender with a wiry shot. Sessa is a big point producer from the back end as well, racking up 14 goals and 35 points in 27 games as a senior.


10. Mason Kelly, Forest Hills Central

Junior Forward, 2002

He’s just a powerful player, strong on the puck and around the boards. Not only that, but Kelly can buzz around the ice, moving one direction, passing another and attacking the net before opponents know what hit them. He’s similar in size and style to that of Dooley and he’s a year younger, finishing his junior season with 35 goals and 54 points in 25 games. If there’s one underclassman other than Tanner Rowe that could be ready for Tier-II junior hockey, it’s Kelly.


There’s plenty of MI-HS prospects with NAHL potential. This year’s class already consists of 10 tender agreements and a handful of additional players that should be selected during the league’s draft proceedings, as well as a few main camp invitees with the possibility of playing their way into roster spots. The NAHL has continually been a popular landing spot for top MI-HS prospects and that pipeline grows stronger with each passing year. The 2019-20 season saw more than 40 alumni compete for 22 different organizations. 

What are your thoughts on this spring’s North American junior drafts and where do you think some of Michigan’s top prospects could end up? Connect with me on Twitter and let’s talk.

Craig Peterson’s comments and opinions are that of his own, and are in no way directly tied to that of the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches’ Association (MHSHCA), its member coaches, or board members. Any questions, comments or concerns regarding his work can be addressed directly to the author of the article.






The End Of The Road

By Craig Peterson 04/03/2020, 8:15pm EDT

MHSAA Announces Cancellation of 2020 Winter Season

The anvil finally dropped.

A decision that hung over our heads for the last three weeks came crashing down on all of us. On Friday, the MHSAA announced via press release, the cancellation of the remaining 2020 winter and spring sports seasons.

I don’t think it comes as much of a surprise following Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s announcement earlier this week regarding the closing of K-12 students in the state of Michigan. If the current global climate is deemed unfit for academics, then it’s virtually impossible to justify the continuation of youth sports. While they were two separate decisions from two completely different entities, they very much go hand-in-hand with one another. It doesn’t make accepting either decision any easier, and my heart hurts for the 12 teams who are left forever with the burning question of, “What if?”

Byron Center, Detroit Catholic Central, Howell, Saginaw Heritage.

Brother Rice, Hartland, Marquette, Trenton.

Calumet, Country Day, Gabriel Richard, Midland Dow.

We talk a lot about how special it is to end your season with a victory. How hard it is to climb the mountaintop. People can speculate how the Final Fours would have shook out and who would have reigned supreme in 2020, and heartbreakingly, we will never know. Now is probably not the time to speculate; we are all hurting in a time like this and crowning a hypothetical champion isn’t going to do anyone any good.

It’s no consolation and won’t make this any easier to accept, but right now, I think it’s important to acknowledge and appreciate those teams who never got to finish. 

The players who didn’t know it was their last game. How different would warm-ups have been at Otsego Sportsplex on March 7th, if Marquette knew that its 5-2 victory over TC Central would be its last? What would Brendan Miles and Kyle Gaffney have said to each other before taking the ice, knowing that the Salem game would be their finale? What would Frank Novock’s final message be to his 10 Country Day seniors in the locker room before their game against University Liggett that Saturday? As coaches, we tell our kids all the time to play every game like it's their last because you never truly know when it’ll be. No one could have ever envisioned this.

What about the coaches and the many hours they put in? To win a state title is a lifetime’s worth of work. Sure, Taylor Keyworth will likely be back with Byron Center next season and it was Rocky Johnson’s first year as head coach for Howell, but that exact moment in time with that group of players and staff is gone forever. People will be quick to say that coaches will have another crack at it and that powerhouses like Hartland and Trenton will be in the mix again in the future, but shouldn’t today’s current climate be an indicator that just about nothing is guaranteed anymore? I can’t sit here and say with confidence that coaches like Dan Giachino and Dick Blasy will for sure get another crack at a Final Four in the future. For their sake, and all 12 coaches’ sakes, I sure as Hell hope so.

For the seniors, I just can’t imagine what you’re going through. At 17- and 18-years-old, you’re being forced to learn one of life’s toughest lessons. It might be the first time you experience this, but I can promise you it won’t be the last time you’re forced to accept that life truly isn’t fair. It’s not any one person’s fault; there’s no one to blame. It’s okay to be mad at the world and scream, “Why me!?” It’s important to know that you are not alone though. It’s not just you, or your team, or the state of Michigan even… ITS AN ENTIRE WORLD of teenagers who have been robbed of some of the most special moments of their lives. Let that sink in for a second. 

What you’ll come to learn is that life does go on. The sun will come up tomorrow. There is no reset button in life like there is on your PS4, and you only get one shot at things. It’s not gonna happen today or tomorrow or next week or next month, but I promise you, when you can come to terms with this and accept it, an entire generation of kids will come out of this stronger and smarter than any other graduating class in our lifetime. That internal strength will serve you well in college and trade school, and some day, with your careers and families. 

Parents are in a similar boat. You want what’s best for your kids, and you’re heartbroken that they’re heartbroken. Senior years are just as much your swan song as it is theirs and playoff runs are probably more nerve-racking for you than for them. Clinching tightly to blankets while sitting in the stands, biting your lip watching behind the glass, religiously wearing the same outfits as if your wardrobe somehow affects your son and his team’s performance on the ice. If there’s any silver lining, maybe the next few weeks with teenagers forced to stay at home, away from their friends and “stuck” with their families. I know patience will wear thin with our young kids in the house 24/7 for two straight months. Years from now though, I hope you all can look back on long-lasting memories of daily family meals at the dinner table, movie nights, a series of board games and quality time like we’ve never experienced before.

It’s unprecedented times, and we’re experiencing something no one has ever dealt with... ever. Each day, it feels like we’re experiencing something as a community, as a country, as a society, that only exists in novels and movies. Mandatory stay-at-homes? Schools canceled? Professional and college sports in limbo? It doesn’t make the cancellation of the 2020 playoffs any easier to accept, but I feel for all those affected by the decision and know that we are all in this together. Connect with me on Twitter to continue the discussion.






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