Ice Hockey

Preview: Ice Powers Rise Again

March 12, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

There’s a perception that hockey is one of those sports in Michigan highlighted by the same powerful programs each season.

Often that may be true. But not this winter.

Nine of 12 teams playing in Semifinals on Thursday and Friday didn’t make it to Plymouth’s Compuware Arena a year ago – including near-annual favorites Birmingham Brother Rice and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood.

In fact, it's guaranteed that at least one of this weekend's contenders will play in an MHSAA championship game for the first time. 

The pairings are as follows:

Division 2 – Thursday
Escanaba vs. Livonia Stevenson, 5 p.m. 
Grosse Pointe South vs. Birmingham Brother Rice, 7:30 p.m.

Division 3 - Friday
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood vs. Riverview, 11 a.m.
Flint Powers Catholic vs. Houghton, 1:30 p.m.

Division 1 – Friday
Detroit U-D Jesuit vs. Detroit Catholic Central, 5 p.m. 
Bay City Central/Western vs. Grandville, 7:30 p.m.

FINALS – Saturday
Division 2 - 10 a.m.
Division 3 - 2 p.m.
Division 1 - 6 p.m.

All Semifinals and Finals will be streamed live per subscription basis on MHSAA.tv, with live audio available on MHSAANetwork.com

Click for a full schedule of this weekend's games plus full results as they come in. Players statistics below are through the Regional round and were submitted by participating schools, except for Escanaba stats, which are through Quarterfinals.

Division 1

BAY CITY CENTRAL/WESTERN
Record/rank: 
17-10-1, unranked.
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Coach: Mike Kayner, 19th season (271-167-22).
League finish: Third in Saginaw Valley Association.
Best wins: 4-3 over  No. 14 Holland West Ottawa, 3-0 over Saginaw Heritage, 4-3 over Grand Blanc in the Regional Final, 1-0 over Division 3 No. 7 Flint Powers Catholic.
Players to watch: Carson Eby, senior forward (27 goals, 28 assists), Trenton Pashak, senior forward (20 goals, 18 assists), Hunter David, junior forward (16 goals, 19 assists).
Outlook: After back-to-back Quarterfinal losses, the Wolves broke through this season for their first trip to Finals weekend. They are 9-0-1 over their last 10 games, a run that has included arguably their three best wins this season. Eby, Pashak and David make up the top line and sophomore Kyle VanOcten (10 goals, 15 assists) is part of the top defensemen pair, but the team also gets a nice dose of offense from freshman forward Tyler David (14 goals, 14 assists).

DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL
Record/rank: 
22-4-1, No. 1.
Championship history: 11 MHSAA titles (most recent 2014), four runner-up finishes.
Coach: Danny Veri, first season (22-5-1).
League finish: Second in Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League North.
Best wins: 4-2 over No. 7 Brighton, 5-1, 9-5, 7-1 and 8-0 (Regional Final) over No. 10 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 4-0 over No. 2 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 4-1 over No. 6 Grandville, 4-0 over No. 8 Northville, 7-0 over No. 13 Troy in the Quarterfinal, 4-2 over Division 2 No. 1 Birmingham Brother Rice, 6-5 and 4-3 over Division 2 No. 5 Trenton, 5-0 over Division 2 No. 2 Livonia Stevenson.
Players to watch: Mitch Ossowski, senior forward (13 goals, 17 assists); Ryan Burnett, senior forward (11 goals, 23 assists), Spencer Wright, senior goaltender (1.39 goals-against average, .929 save %, seven shutouts).
Outlook: The Shamrocks are coming off their first MHSAA championship since 2010 and haven’t slowed a bit; their only losses were to Culver Academy of Indiana, twice, and top-ranked Division 3 teams Cranbrook Kingswood and Forest Hills Central. Ossowski and Burnett were all-state first team forwards last season and again man the top line, but junior JoJo Mancinelli has added 14 goals playing with them and senior Evan Rochowiak has scored 14 on the second line.

DETROIT U-D JESUIT
Record/rank: 
21-6-1, No. 2.
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Coach: Rick Bennetts, 20th season (256-230-33).
League finish: First in the MIHL South.
Best wins: 
4-2 over No. 11 Salem in the Quarterfinal, 3-1 over No. 9 Plymouth, 5-2 and 3-2 over Division 2 No. 5 Trenton, 3-2 over Division 2 No. 1 Birmingham Brother Rice, 4-1 over Division 2 No. 14 Muskegon Mona Shores, 4-2 over Division 3 No. 2 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central.
Players to watch: Jack Deines, senior goaltender (1.62 goals-against average, .916 save %); Christian Wirth-Karbler, senior forward (15 goals, 23 assists); Sam Knoblauch, junior forward (16 goals, 26 assists).
Outlook: Jesuit has played in Semifinals the last two seasons and nearly broke through to its first championship game last season before falling in overtime to Brighton. The Cubs are loaded offensively, with 10 players scoring at least 11 goals this season – leading goal scorer Matt Morgan has 19 goals and 21 assists as a defenseman. Deines is the team’s returning all-stater and remains a force in the crease.

GRANDVILLE
Record/rank: 
24-3-2, No. 6.
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Coach: Joel Breazeale, fifth season (87-46-5).
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Tier 2. 
Best wins: 9-1 over No. 14 Holland West Ottawa in the Pre-Regional, 4-0 over No. 12 Traverse City West in the Quarterfinal, 6-4 over Division 2 No. 9 Traverse City Central, 4-2 over Bay City Central/Western.
Players to watch: Brandon Rozema, senior forward (26 goals, 26 assists), Mitchell Parsons, senior forward (22 goals, 40 assists); Thomas Breazeale, junior defenseman (3 goals, 17 assists).
Outlook: Grandville has won four Regional titles in Joel Breazeale’s five seasons, but this team has six more wins than any of the other three previous champs and will play in a Semifinal for the second straight winter. The Bulldogs are loaded with scorers; seniors Gianni Vitali (24 goals, 39 assists) and Jacob Baum (25/31) and juniors Noah Weigle (14/19) and Ryan Wolfe (12/12) are among those also keeping the offense humming. Rozema made the all-state second team last season, and Thomas Breazeale earned an honorable mention.

Division 2

BIRMINGHAM BROTHER RICE
Record/rank: 
22-6, No. 1.
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2012), two runner-up finishes.
Coach: Lou Schmidt, 12th season (214-101-18).
League finish: Third in MIHL North.
Best wins: 4-3 over No. 2 Livonia Stevenson, 3-1 and 5-4 over No. 5 Trenton, 8-0 and 4-3, 4 OT (Quarterfinal) over No. 4 Hartland, 5-3 over Division 1 No. 7 Brighton, 3-1 over Division 1 No. 1 Detroit Catholic Central, 7-0 and 7-3 over Division 1 No. 10 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 2-1 over Division 1 No. 8 Northville.  
Players to watch: Nick Rosa, senior forward (20 goals, 26 assists), Joey Vassallo, senior forward (19 goals, 24 assists), Matthew Manning, senior forward (7 goals, 21 assists).
Outlook: Brother Rice is back in Division 2 after two seasons in Division 1, but has beaten most of the best from both – and with some incredible goal totals. The Warriors have scored five or more goals in 12 games and had four players with at least 10 goals this season at of the end of the Regional. Manning was a second-team all-state selection last season and teams with Rosa and Vassallo on Brother Rice’s top line.

ESCANABA
Record/rank: 
18-10-1, No. 12.
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Coach: Matt Hughes, second season (34-18-4).
League finish: Fifth in Great Lakes Conference.
Best wins: 4-1 and 4-2 over No. 8 Marquette, 6-3 over No. 13 Berkley, 7-3 over No. 9 Traverse City Central in the Quarterfinal, 4-2 over Bay City Central/Western.
Players to watch: Levi Wunder, senior forward (45 goals, 46 assists), Nicholas Aird, junior forward (12 goals, 28 assists), Chris LeMire, sophomore forward (19 goals, 21 assists).
Outlook: The Eskymos are making their first trip to the MHSAA Semifinals and after coming back from a rough streak that included eight losses in 11 games through mid-January and early February. Wunder is a dangerous scorer and was a first-team all-state selection last season – and also is the only senior on the team. Junior defenseman Calvin Pinar adds size at 6-foot-3 and additional scoring with 14 goals and 23 assists this season.

GROSSE POINTE SOUTH
Record/rank: 
21-4-1, No. 7.
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2007, two runner-up finishes.
Coach: Bobby McKillop, third season (56-19-3).
League finish: First in Michigan Metro League East.
Best wins: 8-2 over No. 3 Romeo in the Quarterfinal, 5-0 over No. 10 Port Huron Northern, 5-2 and 2-0 over Division 3 No. 6 Detroit Country Day, 4-1 and 4-2 over Division 3 No. 4 Wyandotte Roosevelt, 3-1 over Division 3 No. 14 Dearborn Divine Child.
Players to watch: Adam Pitters, sophomore forward (16 goals, 17 assists); Ian Corbett, senior defenseman (12 goals, 15 assists); Jonathan Theros, junior forward (9 goals, 17 assists)
Outlook: South carries a 10-game winning streak into the Semifinals and has won at least 20 games two seasons in a row. Corbett made the all-state second team as a junior and helps keep order in front of senior goaltender Andy Jakub, who has stopped nearly 93 percent of shots he’s faced and tallied five shutouts.

LIVONIA STEVENSON
Record/rank: 
18-5-5, No. 2.
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2013.
Coach: David Mitchell, seventh season (130-45-15).
League finish: Tied for third in Kensington Lakes Activities Association Central.
Best wins: 2-1 over No. 4 Hartland, 4-2 over No. 9 Traverse City Central, 8-5 and 4-3 (Regional Final) over No. 5 Trenton, 5-2 and 5-1 (Quarterfinal) over No. 6 Novi, 2-0 over Division 1 No. 7 Brighton, 5-1 over Division 1 No. 10 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 3-1 over Division 1 No. 9 Plymouth, 5-2 over Division 1 No. 12 Traverse City West, 4-1 over Division 1 No. 2 Detroit U-D Jesuit. 
Players to watch: Andrew Rozenbaum, senior goaltender (1.74 goals-against average, .918 save %); Alex DeFlorio, senior forward (14 goals, 10 assists); Mick Sinclair, senior forward (9 goals, 14 assists).
Outlook: Stevenson made a big splash in 2013 with the first MHSAA title in Livonia’s illustrious hockey history, but fell to eventual champion Trenton during last season’s Regional. The Spartans have beaten most of the state’s best on the way back to the Semifinals, despite finishing third in the loaded KLAA Central. Junior Ben Kowalske and senior Vince Glenn both have scored 12 goals to give the second and third lines some added punch, and Rozenbaum made the all-state first team in 2014.

Division 3

BLOOMFIELD HILLS CRANBROOK KINGSWOOD
Record/rank: 
23-3-4, No. 1.
Championship history: 16 MHSAA titles (most recent 2013), two runner-up finishes.  
Coach: Andy Weidenbach, 22nd season (438-149-38).
League finish: First in MIHL North.  
Best wins: 9-4 over No. 4 Wyandotte Roosevelt in the Quarterfinal, 4-0 over No. 5 Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 5-2 over No. 7 Flint Powers Catholic, 4-1 over No. 6 Detroit Country Day in the Regional Final, 5-4 over Division 1 No. 1 Detroit Catholic Central, 2-0 over Division 1 No. 2 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 4-2 over Division 2 Birmingham Brother Rice, 2-1 over Division 2 No. 2 Livonia Stevenson.
Players to watch: Spencer Applebaum, senior goaltender (1.77 goals-against average, .918 save %); Cooper Stahl, senior defenseman (7 goals, 19 assists); Jack Blumberg, senior defenseman (15 goals, 11 assists); Austin Alger, senior forward (24 goals, 31 assists).
Outlook: After being stunned in the Quarterfinal last season by eventual champion Farmington, the Cranes are back at Finals weekend and have beaten the favorites in both Divisions 1 and 2. The slate of teams Cranbrook Kingswood has defeated as a whole is simply incredible; the Cranes also own wins over Division 1 No. 10 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and Division 2 No. 5 Trenton (twice). Applebaum, Blumberg and Stahl all made the all-state first team last season and lead the defensive effort, while Alger also made the first team and centers the top line.  

FLINT POWERS CATHOLIC
Record/rank: 
20-8, No. 7.
Championship history: Seven MHSAA runner-up finishes (most recent 2010).
Coach: Travis Perry, ninth season (184-58-12).
League finish: Second in Saginaw Valley Association.
Best wins: 3-2 OT over No. 2 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central in the Quarterfinal, 3-2 over No. 6 Detroit Country Day, 3-0 over No. 12 Chelsea, 5-1 over Division 1 No. 15 Farmington.
Players to watch: Mike Forman, senior forward (30 goals, 33 assists); Jeff Polakowski, senior forward (16 goals, 37 assists); Austin Kane, senior goaltender (2.09 goals-against average, .906 save %, seven shutouts).
Outlook: Powers has won seven straight Regional titles under Perry and finished MHSAA runner-up in both 2010 and 2008 under his leadership. The Chargers have caught fire over their last five games; in addition to upsetting Forest Hills Central in the Quarterfinal, they’ve outscored their last five opponents by a combined 38-4.

HOUGHTON
Record/rank: 
23-4-2, No. 3.
Championship history: Class B-C-D champion 1982, three runner-up finishes.
Coach: Corey Markham, 16th season (253-151-7).
League finish: First in Great Lakes Conference.
Best wins: 4-1 over No. 15 Sault Ste. Marie in the Quarterfinal, 4-3 over No. 8 Hancock, 6-3 and 4-0 over Division 2 No. 6 Escanaba, 5-0 over Division 2 No. 8 Marquette, 7-2 over Division 1 No. 15 Farmington.
Players to watch: Tristan Foltz, senior defenseman (4 goals, 15 assists); Jon Bostwick, senior forward (15 goals, 23 assists); Reid Pietila, junior forward (26 goals, 22 assists); Cale Markham, senior forward (19 goals, 21 assists).
Outlook: Houghton is 93-19-2 over the last four seasons with four league and Regional titles and was Division 3 runner-up in 2012. The Gremlins are tested both against most of the best of the Upper Peninsula and also against some of the elite from downstate (lost 2-1 OT to Brighton and 4-2 to Trenton, and tied Traverse City Central). Junior Wyatt Liston and senior Spencer Donnelly both add 12 goals from the second line to pump up the offense, and Foltz earned an all-state honorable mention last winter.

RIVERVIEW
Record/rank: 
24-5, No. 10.
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Coach: Al Taurence, fifth season (80-54).
League finish: First in Huron League Division 3.
Best wins: 4-3 over Okemos in the Quarterfinal, 1-0 over No. 12 Chelsea, 2-0 over No. 14 Dearborn Divine Child.
Players to watch: John Clemente, junior forward (22 goals 31 assists); Dalton Sutherland, senior forward (37 goals, 44 assists), Jacob St. Andre, senior forward (25 goals, 47 assists).
Outlook: Riverview came back from a 3-0 deficit to Okemos on Tuesday to make its second MHSAA Semifinal in three seasons and continue a 12-game winning streak. Sutherland, Clemente and St. Andre man the top line, but senior Noah Vowell has added 18 goals centering the second line, and senior goaltender Thomas Proudlock has a .941 save percentage and six shutouts.  

PHOTO: Detroit Catholic Central goalie Spencer Wright prepares to stop a shot by Brighton during last season’s Division 1 Final; he’s expected to be in net again this weekend for the Shamrocks.