I love high school hockey.
It might be one of the biggest things I miss in my hometown. Comes in as a close second to pasty’s.
We are only a few weeks away from the Copper Island Classic, and I am pretty bummed this will be the first time that I can remember missing it.
But overall let us take a look at how the preseason rankings are for the Division 3 level of high school hockey in Michigan.
*Rankings are from Michigan High School Hockey Hub*
10. Chelsea Bulldogs
Chelsea is coming off a overall solid year. They had a record of 18-8-2, and won their region this past season. It is also a big plus that they have Brennan Wright coming into his senior year after leading the team with 56 points (25G/31A). Overall this looks like a solid hockey club. With eight seniors coming back for the Chelsea, it should not be a surprise if they win their region back to back seasons. Only concern I have is strength in schedule. Toughest game they really have is Flint Powers, and playing a weaker schedule all season can come back and haunt you in the long run.
9. Livonia Churchill
The old stomping grounds for Duck’s center Ryan Kessler finds themselves at the number nine spot in Division 3. Churchill is coming off a great year as well with a record of 20-9 and winning their conference. They have a big slot to fill though with losing their top score John Doyle. Doyle put up 78 points last season, and is now playing is the WSHL. A player like Tyler Haydu needs to step up for Churchill, who put up the second biggest point total. Overall they play a well rounded schedule. Playing teams like Brighton, Northville, and Hartland will help them prepared when it counts.
8. Grand Rapids Catholic Central
First private school to make the list. And not to get into that debate whether or not they should play against each other, they should. When it comes to private schools, they always have solid clubs coming into the season. It is just whether or not they can figure it out when it counts. This seems to be the only team that doesn’t have their record from last year anywhere to be found, but I was able to watch them in Trenton at the MIHL Showcase. They were playing Detroit Catholic Central, and power house in high school hockey. And were hanging with them. Also they lost to Hancock in the finals two years ago, so this team has been consistent the past few seasons.
Ahhh nice to see a U.P. team on here, and luckily there are two more still to come. Houghton is coming off a 15-11 season, which is not anything to get excited about. However, they play some solid hockey clubs throughout their season. Hancock, Calumet, Brother Rice, etc. That is why they are ranked higher than the three previous teams. Dawson McKay and Kevin Bostwick are great players, and will be the backbone of the team. They most likely will not win the conference or their region, but they will give every team a hell of a fight.
6. East Grand Rapids
I will be honest, never heard of this school. There will always be a wild card school in the rankings that is not your traditional hockey power house, and I love it. East Grand Rapids is coming off a good season with a record of 20-6, along with winning their conference. I am a little skeptical of if they should be ranked this high initially. Their only challenging games seem to come against Forest Hills Central, which in the three times they met, they lost. They do have some players who lead the scoring for them come back, but should they be ranked at the number six spot?
5. Forest Hills Central
Speaking of Forest Hills Central, they come in at number five. Last year was a great year for Forest Hills, coming in with a record of 23-3-2 and winning their conference which includes: Grandville and Mona Shores. Their season came to an end against Flint Powers in the quarter finals last season, but just lost 3-2. Flint Powers was tremendous last year, and to lose only by one says something. They only red flag there is they have lost their five top scores from last season. They are going to need some other players to step up big time this season to start where they left off. Somewhat surprised that with losing so many players that are top scorers they are ranked this high still.
Good to see the hometown boys this high. Calumet had a great year last season, even though losing in the state finals. Really young team this season, and that is my biggest concern. The only good thing with that is they play a tremendously difficult schedule. Brighton, Cranbrook, Jesuit, Novi. etc. This will help those younger guys in the end be ready to make another push for a state finals. Also I like Voelker in the pipes. If he plays how he did in the playoffs, this team will be tough to beat. I expect struggles at first with a tough first four or five games, but hopefully it pays off in the end.
Slightly surprised they are not one or two in this preseason ranking. But, they will give the benefit of the doubt to downstate teams, it is just how it works. Love Randell, Nordstrom, and Kero. Great players who have won before. Now that they are older, they should be able to go back and do it again. They are my favorite to win their conference and out of the U.P. Also they have a solid chance to win it all this season.
2. Flint Powers
Listen, they are always going to be high in this ranking. But they literally cannot win when it counts. I think they have been to 22 semi finals and state finals, and have NEVER won. They had a great team last year, and probably should have won. They for some reason cannot find a way to win in the big moments. They lost one game last season, and probably will go almost perfect again this season. Will this be their year? Maybe, but I will believe it when I see it. They are a great hockey club year in and year out, so this is a fair ranking.
1. Warren DeLaSalle
The reigning state champs find themselves at the top of Division 3 for this preseason ranking. The Pilots finished the season with a 20-9-1 record. Being in the MIHL conference, they will play a tough schedule that will better prepare them for the playoffs. They have lost a lot of players from last season, but private schools usually reload instead of rebuild. Probably will not repeat state championships, but then again most people counted them out last season in the final game.