Top 25 Michigan hockey rankings for Feb. 18: Calumet, Brother Rice, Livonia Stevenson climb into top 5, while Clarkston, Capital City Caps debut in top 25
With just one more week of regular-season play before regionals start, here is how our we see the top contenders shaking out:
1. Novi Detroit Catholic Central — The Shamrocks are now 18-0 against in-state opponents, and have outscored them by a 99-17 margin, playing one of the toughest slates in the state.
2. Saginaw Heritage — The Hawks have rolled up a 20-1 in-state record, and coach JJ Bamberger is getting them ready for the playoffs with games against three good teams this week: Howell, Flint Powers and Hartland. Junior Brady Rappuhn is one to watch, with an incredible 21 goals and 34 assists in only 22 games.
3. Calumet — The Copper Kings sit atop of the Division 3 ranks for now, after a big 4-2 victory at home over Houghton. Senior Brent Loukus is putting together a player of the year type of season with 24 goals and 23 assists in only 23 games.
4. Birmingham Brother Rice — The Warriors are riding a six-game win streak with wins over Saginaw Heritage, Detroit Country Day, Orchard Lake St. Mary's, U of D Jesuit, Plymouth and Cranbrook-Kingswood. They might be the hottest team in the state right now, just in time for the playoffs.
5. Livonia Stevenson — The Spartans are champions of the very tough KLAA for the second year in a row after a 5-2 victory in Hartland on Saturday. The Spartans are one of the teams to beat once again in Division 2, but Coach Mitchell went out of his way after the game to give his staff the credit: “My staff has been amazing this year, its been a total team effort, on and off the ice.”
6. Trenton — The Trojans are champs of the tough MIHL South, after a 2-0 victory over U of D Jesuit on Saturday. With the depth they employ, and the schedule that they play, the Trojans are one of the favorites yet again in the Division 2 ranks.
7. Houghton — The Gremlins bounced back from a 4-2 loss at Calumet, with an impressive 6-1 win over ranked Marquette, and showed again why coach Corey Markhams's squad will be a formidable opponent for anybody come Division 3 playoff time.
8. Hartland — The Eagles are the defending Division 2 champions, and as the rankings show, there is not a lot that separates the top four in D2. Nobody should be surprised if any of the four ends up as champion at years end.
9. Detroit Country Day — There will be plenty of potential hurdles once the Division 3 playoffs start, but the Yellowjackets have shown that they can beat anybody, and that they can finish first in the marathon that is the MHSAA playoff grind, as defending Division 3 champs.
10. U of D Jesuit — The Cubbies are certainly in that rather large group of teams that can claim Division 3 supremacy when all is said and done, and one long-time opposing coach in the MHSAA ranks recently told me that senior Ben Charboneau is the best forward he has seen all year.
11. Cranbrook-Kingswood — The Cranes are hosting Trenton this week in a can't-miss MIHL battle, and are being led by Connor McGrath, who has put up 22 goals and 15 assists in 24 games. One of his coaches told me that McGrath “works hard and competes every night, and thus leads by example.”
12. Warren DeLaSalle — The Pilots bounced back from losses to Houghton and Trenton with wins over Grosse Pointe North and South, and are part of what I am calling the “Bracket of Doom” in Division 3 that contains Cranbrook, U of D, and Country Day, all vying for a single spot at USA Hockey arena in the Division 3 semifinals.
13. Saline — The Hornets have won four straight, and should not be overlooked at Division 2 playoff time, as they have shown that they can play with anybody. They have a big playoff primer on Wednesday when they travel to Hartland.
14. Rochester United — The winning streak has grown to 13 games now, and head coach Bryan Kowalski is making a case for Coach of the Year honors in Division 1.
15. Byron Center — The Bulldogs are 19-5 on the season, and are a serious threat to end up as one of the four semi-finalists in division one. Senior Jake Froysland is leading the way with 22 goals and 25 assists in 24 games.
16. Brownstown-Woodhaven — The Warriors are another team that is capable of knocking off one of the favorites come playoff time, and they are a part of Division 2's region of doom, with Livonia Stevenson, Plymouth, Trenton, Saline and Woodhaven among the teams all vying for a single spot at USA Hockey Arena for the D2 semifinals.
17. East Grand Rapids — The Pioneers have put up a fine season as they sit at 18-5-1, and must be considered one of the favorites to punch a ticket to the Division 3 semifinals at USA Hockey Arena.
18. Marquette — The Redmen are 15-2 in their last 17, and must be considered a favorite in their Division 2 bracket to get to USA Hockey Arena for the semifinals.
19. Alpena — The Wildcats continue their outstanding season with a Big North Conference championship. With Cooper Black in goal, they are going to be a tough out for anybody come Division 3 playoff time. Coach Chris Limback and his staff have done a tremendous job in a community with such a rich hockey history.
20. Brighton — The defending division 1 champs have now won four straight, and have a massive test on Wednesday when they host No. 4 Brother Rice.
21. Forest Hills Central — The Rangers finished the season 17-5-2, and on a four-game unbeaten streak. Coach Kevin Zaschak has a squad that is capable of a run to the Division 3 semifinals at USA Hockey Arena.
22. Davison — The Cardinals have compiled an impressive 19-3-1 mark on the season, and are being led by Gage Thrall, who has a remarkable 50 goals and 36 assists in just 23 games.
23. Clarkston — The Wolves make their debut in our rankings by virtue of a 10-game win streak, that has pushed their overall record to an impressive 18-5 on the season.
24. Salem — The Rocks went 2-2 since our last rankings, but with wins over Marquette, and a good Howell team, Coach Ryan Ossenmacher's squad stay in our top 25.
25. Capital City Capitals — The Capitals are 21-3-1 and Champions of the CAAC, while they still may have a lot to prove, they have a goaltender in Ryan Gilmore who might just be able to prove it when the opportunity presents itself with his 18-2-1 record, with a 1.91 goals-against and .926 save percentage. A good story up in Cap City, that is still developing.