Monday, November 3, 2008

A New Blog for the 2008-09 Season

Tryouts are mostly done and scrimmages start soon. It's a new season, and we're kicking off a new Blog at a new web address: http://thewmhsh.blogspot.com/

Without getting into the minutia, we needed to change the address and wanted to do a Web address that wouldn't give you carpal tunnel every time you needed to type it in. So we made it simple. Bookmark it. Write it down. Pass it on.

The new site will be like the old one with a few differences. We've figured out how to use technology so we can post live-in game updates on the site via text messaging and email. And we'll be expanding the use of photos and video throughout the season. Most importantly, we have more bloggers coming on board...fans and followers of teams around West Michigan who are going to blog, post and update all on what's up in West Michigan High School Hockey.

All are being asked to maintain our philosophy of "positive objectivity" -- a phrase coined by one Bill Hicks of Mona Shores that has become our credo. There's enough bad news and snarkiness in the mainstream media and on MLIVE. The Blog wants to keep it real and keep it positive. If you want to Blog about a team or a conference, please send me a note: brian.h.edwards@gmail.com.

We'll keep on keeping on with many of the mainstays from last year, including Players of the Week, Hockey Night in West Michigan (moved from Saturday to Friday this year), updated standings, stats and news pulled from a variety of sources and linked here for your convenience.

Before we kick off next year, the Blogger spent a few minutes going back through last year's WMHSH Blog to remember what it was we did exactly. The quick stroll down the digital memory lane helped me remember some of the 100+ games I went to, and all the great people I got to meet and stories I got to watch unfold. The OK2 conference race going down to the wire. East GR losing its first 10 and then turning it around to be the hottest team in town. EK pulling its goalie in a tie game against Mona. The Portage Classic. Dallas Covasos, the senior equipment manager who got into a game and scored an empty netter. Clayton Brackett, in tears, after GRCC was eliminated in the quarters. And I will never forget the surreal yet joyous game played by Forest Hills Northern/Eastern in the D-2 quarterfinals, just days after two classmates had passed away unexpectedly. I still get a lump in my throat thinking about it.

But that was last year, and a new season is upon us. Let's get it started. Visit the new blogsite and say hello.

Monday, October 27, 2008

First Day of Tryouts

It's here.

Tryouts started today, with some kids hitting the ice at 5:45 a.m. Guess I could have done the Dickie V thing and had a big "midnight madness" blog, but to my knowledge, no one was on the ice at 12:01 a.m. today.

The next few days will be a tough time for players and coaches alike. Some players will have their best performances and some will not. Coaches will see things and miss things. Some kids on the bubble won't make their team, and some will. Parents will bitch about "politics," and coaches will make some decisions that they'll second-guess. It's an imperfect process, tryouts are. Kind of like electing a president. All you can do is show up, do your best and let the rest sort itself out.

Good luck to players and coaches. When you're done at the end of tryouts, take a moment to reflect on something the great coach from the University of Wisconsin -- Badger Bob Johnson -- used to say every single day: "It's a great day for hockey!"

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Big North Conference Predictions

Okay, let's just put it on the table: The Blog didn't do a very good job covering the BNC last year. And that's a shame. Because the teams from Traverse City West, Traverse City Central, Petoskey, and Cadillac clearly are from the west side of the state. They are West Michigan teams -- and very good ones at that. And despite its location smack dab in the middle of the state, Gaylord is like an adopted sibling for West Michigan, especially the D-3 teams that make the trip to the 45th parallel each December. Even Alpena has a place near and dear to the heart of West Michiganders who've made the 4.5 hour trip northeast for the showcase tournaments at Northern Lights.

So the Blog pledges to do a better job covering the Big North Conference teams in 2008-09 season. But, as the great Jerry McGuire said: "Help me, help YOU!" Use the comments section here to fill in your predictions and thoughts on the players and teams from the BNC.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

OK Tier 3 Predictions

There will be lots of new faces skating in OK Tier 3 this season, with the addition of Grand Haven and three City League programs: Christian High, Ottawa-Union, and Creston-Central. Those four newbies will join West Ottawa, Northview, Wayland and South Christian to round out the 8-team conference, which should be very competitive in 2008-09. West Ottawa returns a lot of talent from the team that finished second in the league last year, and Grand Haven is expected to be a powerhouse with the addition of some strong kids who played travel hockey last year. Christian High has a youngish team, and Wayland will be working to integrate it's new co-op school (Hastings) into the mix. Northview and South Christian return key players from last year and look to improve, while Ottawa-Union and Creston-Central hope to show that City League play has prepped them for the OK Conference.

What are your thoughts on the T-3 race? Who are the teams and the players to watch in the coming season? Share your comments below.

Monday, October 20, 2008

State playoff schedule posted

We haven't even done tryouts yet, but the MHSAA is all over it. The playoff schedule, including pre-regional assignments are posted here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

OK Tier 2 Predictions

Last year's OK Tier 2 race was down to the wire, with Forest Hills Central wrapping it up in the last game of the season. Reeths-Puffer, Kenowa Hills and Hudsonville all battled down the stretch and will be looking to reload in 2008-09. Jenison should be improved under a new coach. The returning teams also have challenges from the tier's newest entrants. The combination of of Grandville moving down from T1 and Lowell-Caledonia moving up from T-3, plus the addition of West Catholic from the City League should make for another interesting season. What's your take on the Ok Conference Tier 2 this season?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

OK Tier 1 Predictions

Time for you to give your input on how things will shake out in the OK's Tier 1 this season. East Kentwood, East Grand Rapids and Rockford will all have senior laden teams, while Forest Hills N/E, Forest Hills Central and OK newcomer GR Catholic Central will be in rebuilding mode after graduating hugely successful senior classes last season. Oh yeah, there's that team from Mona Shores, which is always force to be dealt with, regardless of whether its players are young or old. Use the comments section to share your thoughts on the OK-1 conference race this season.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

SWMHSHL Predictions

From what I've seen this summer and fall, it looks like the Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League is going to be uber-competitive this season. Perennial powers PC and PN will be strong, and I've seen some talented kids in the fall league from Mattawan. Plus, the Blades looked pretty darn good at the Lakeshore Shootout in August. Both United and the Eagles (last year's surprising team) return a lot of players from last years teams. Plus, fans will be able to check the teams on a fancy new league website.

Here's the question: What do you think about the SWMHSHL this season? Who will be the teams to watch and the players that make a difference?

...and now, a word from our Blogger

Wanted to update everyone and let you know we're getting ready for the upcoming season. We're going to have a new web address that will be easier to type and we should have lots more news and updates on the site each day. I'm still looking for bloggers to post on the teams around West Michigan.

Could really use the help because things have been tremendously busy these days with another venture that I'm involved in: REVUE, which is an entertainment magazine and website filled with things to do in West Michigan. (Okay, let me restate that: Things to do when you're not obsessing about hockey.)

Anyway, check out the REVUE website or the REVUE blog (once a blogger, always a blogger) and you can win free tickets, gift certificates to restaurants, gift cards to shops, CDs and other stuff. There is no catch. You enter and we give stuff away. As you know, the Blogger loves to give away free stuff.

Only about two weeks until tryouts. Man, I can hardly wait.

WMHSH grads playing college hockey

Got an update from a hockey mom who I'd vote for as VP: Patty Alexander, whose son Eric played for East Kentwood and will soon be suiting up as a Ferris State Bulldog. Patty writes: "Just a couple updates for you on West Michigan Alums. First of all, Ben Dykstra is playing for the Davenport University D2 ACHA team and is having quite a season. Ben decided to play for Davenport making it four EK players on the team with Adam Thomas, Kenny Jacobs, and Jeremy Bultema. I have gone to a couple games and it's exciting hockey that is a very competitive level."

Patty also notes that Jeff Anonick (Mona Shores) and Erik Hoffman (Portage Central) are playing for Grand Valley State's DII team. And that there are a bunch of West Michigan high school hockey players who'll be logging ice for Davenport's D-3 team, including:

Taylor Keyworth, FHC
Mike Dakesian, FHN
Adam Farr, Jenison HS
Sam Swardenski, FHE
Jon Kuzava, Caledonia HS
Jordan Stegar, Caledonia HS
Andrew Hofert, Caledonia HS

Finally, we would be remiss to leave out former EK Falcon and WMHSH Blog poster boy (he of the goal-preventing uncalled hooking penalty seen on our masthead above) Ben Grover, who is guarding the blueline for Lansing Community College's D3 club team. Congrats to all.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Janny represents his WM roots

GRCC grad and three-time all-stater Adam Janecyk shot me a quick note with this picture attached. It's his team photo for the Sioux City Musketeers, and if you look closely you can see he's wearing a Hockey Night in West Michigan t-shirt he earned as one of last year's Players of the Week. He wrote: "I have to represent my roots!" Way to go, Janny.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Traverse City Update

There's tons of high school hockey news coming out of Traverse City these days, including new coaches and new co-ops that will compete in the 2008-09 season.

The Bay Area Reps have a new coach, Scott Gardiner, after long time coach Rex Luxton stepped down a few weeks ago. Scott is the former coach of the Traverse City Enforcers and Traverse City North Stars. His son, Derek Gardiner, plays for TC Central. The Reps have also added Mancelona High School to their co-op hockey program. Check out this story in the Record-Eagle for more details. And be sure to read this story about Rex Luxton, who is the only coach the Bay Reps ever had and is one of Michigan's great high school hockey guys.

Also, there is a new seven school co-op that will begin play in the 2008-09 season. They are called the Northwest Warriors and their first coach is Charlie O'Hearn, who played his high school hockey at TC Central and served as an assistant coach at TC West last season. The Warriors co-op includes Benzie Central, Glen Lake, Frankfort, Kingsley, Traverse City Christian, Traverse City Prep and Grand Traverse Academy. They have reportedly scheduled 14 games so far, and will be looking for more.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

FHC coach on board

Where does the time go? Robin Feenie was named the coach of Forest Hills Central about a month ago, but the Blogger failed to Blog it. Apologies. Robin is a great hockey guy, as evidenced by the play and leadership of his son, Morgan, who was one of FHC's senior leaders last season. He's also got an impressive hockey resume of his own: Played his youth hockey in Canada, then four years of juniors in the BC Jr League, which earned him a 4-year hockey scholarship at University of Illinois-Chicago. He had a few pro tryouts, but ultimately got into the work world rather than play pro hockey.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Announcement to Coaches

The Blog is looking for information from West Michigan high school coaches about their teams. If you are a head coach or assistant coach for one of the 36 teams listed on the right, please contact me at brian.h.edwards@gmail.com as soon as possible. (And if you're not a coach, but have contact with them, please put them in touch with the Blog ASAP!) Thanks, The Blogger.

Bloggers Wanted

The WMHSH Blog is looking for parents, students or fans to blog about their favorite teams this season. The pay scale sucks, but you can probably get a Hockey Night in West Michigan t-shirt, and you'll earn the adulation (or, in a few cases, the loathing) of 25,000+ visitors to the Blog. If you're of legal age and the right mindset, there might even be a few malt beverages in the deal, courtesy of the Blogger. Contact brian.h.edwards@gmail.com with your qualifications and the team(s) or topics you'd like to blog about.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Manistee nets new coach

The Manistee Chippewas hockey squad -- a five team co-op -- has a new hockey coach. Fifty-eight year old Fountain resident John Raatz…will take over for former coach Jeff Patulski, who left the position after his purchase of Muskegon’s IHL hockey team, the Fury. The Chippewa hockey team includes students from Manistee, Ludington, Mason County Central, Hart and Shelby high schools.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fuzzy tending for the Owls

Kenowa grad and two-time honorable mention all-stater Zac "Fuzzy" Smith will be minding the nets for the Grand Rapids Junior A Owls this fall. The Owls, who are coached by longtime travel coach Greg Geldart, kicked off their season this weekend with a pair of games at Queen City.

Max Grover = USHL Captain

Former East Kentwood Falcon Max Grover has been named captain of the Sioux Falls Stampede. That's according to an email I got this morning from Max's younger brother, 2008 all-state d-man Ben Grover. The coach of the Stampede calls Max: "Tough minded, excellent penalty killer...handles rushes extremely well. You will love him as a dedicated teammate (and good guy). Will be there when the going gets tough." Congrats!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Northview seeking JV goalie

Northview's junior varsity team is looking for a goalie -- or two -- as well as a few skaters. The team plays in the WMJVHL (it's actually classified as a Midget A team, if I'm not mistaken), so player needs to be in 8th to 11th grade and does not necessarily have to attend Northview high school. The team practices at Griff's (Sun, Mon, Wed) and they're willing to go 1/2-price for goalies. If you're interested or want more information, shoot an email to either Alisa Warning or Jim Dodge.

WM players selected for Motor City Cup

The Michigan Development Hockey League (MDHL), which includes teams from around the state including Team West Michigan, is entering 2 teams (green & white) in each age bracket of the Motor City Cup this weekend in Detroit. Team West Michigan players competing for the Midget Minor Green Team are Lance Fredrickson (MCC), Mike Hickson (BR) and Matt Ragains (PC). Those on the Midget Minor White Team are Ken Babinski (Mid), Kyle Hicks (MS) and Brogan Vandevelde (PC). Two West Michigan players were selected for the Midget Major White Team: Chris Sandmeyer (PC) & Luke Swardenski (FHN/E), and two were chosen for the Midget Major Green Team: Billy McMullen (BR) and Jeff Sanders (EK). For the tourney website goto: www.shootouthockey.com and click on 'AAA Tourneys'

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Grandville's Grypma to Soo Thunderbirds

Looks like there will be some serious West Michigan rivalry up in the Soo this winter, as another local player has signed with an NOJHL team up north. Andy Grypma from Grandville high school has just signed with the Soo Thunderbirds Jr A hockey team in the NOJHL. Andy lead the Bulldogs in scoring for the last two years and earned first team all conference and second team all state honors in 07/08. Andy will be competing against fellow Grandville teammate Tom Lorenz (Soo Eagles) this upcoming season. Off the ice, will be classmates at Lake Superior State University. Grandville coach Mike Bynski sends this note: "The Grandville coaching staff and hockey boosters wish both Andy and Tom the best of luck this year in their both athletic and academic pursuits."

Saturday, August 30, 2008

GRCC's Boman to Sioux Eagles of NOJHL

Just got off the phone with GRCC Coach Alan Kranzo, who tells me the 2008 graduate Kevin Boman -- the Cougars all-time leading scorer -- has signed to play with the new Saulte St. Marie Eagles of the NOJHL. The move adds more West Michigan flavor to the team, which already includes BR's Nick Goodfellow, Cadillac goalie Micky Mamborg and Grandville d-man Tom Lorenz. He'll also potentially be playing against former Cougar teammate, Warren Webster, who played for the Soo Thunderbirds last season and is expected to roster there again in 2008-09.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Former EGR player succumbs to cancer

Had two emails in my inbox about Reid Vangelderen, an East Grand Rapids grad and former high school hockey player who passed away this week from cancer. Vangelderen won the MHSAA's 2004 Perseverance Award for his battle against the disease while he was in high school. The cancer had gone into remission but recently returned, and this was one battle he couldn't win. Reid was a member of the East Grand Rapids hockey and lacrosse teams, graduated in 2004, and was currently attending the University of Michigan. He was 22 years old.

I was forwarded an email from retired Kentwood Hockey Coach Ron Baum, who wrote: "Among other things, Reid will be remembered as a mild-manner Christian gentleman, outstanding student-athlete, strong leader, and a young man who never gave up. He epitomized every aspect of [the] Perseverance Award."

Team West Michigan Selected

Coach Jeff Wressell has chosen the 2008 Team West Michigan, which will represent the area in fall hockey over in Detroit. About 110 players tried out for the teams, and the final selections represent 12 different schools. "That is amazing," Wressell wrote. Anyway, here are the final selections (in no particular order):

Defense-
1. Ryan Mylenek
2. Brett Bergy
3. Brendan Giffel
4. Chris Sandmeyer
5. Joshua Light
6. Doug Wheelright
7. Billy McMullen

Forwards:
1. Jeff Sanders
2. Matt Ragains
3. John Kersaan
4. Michael Hickson
5. Luke Swardenski
6. Ken Babinski
7. Anthony Pino
8. Chris Norkus
9. Drew O'Brien
10. Kyle Hicks
11. Lance Fredrickson
12. Michael Soto

Goalies:
1. Zach Bresko
2. Scott Tiefenthal
3. Brogan Vandevelde


Congrats to all players and good luck!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Koenigsknecht to play at Lawrence Tech

Hot off the email from Lawrence Tech's hockey program: "Recently graduated GRCC defenseman Mark Koenigsknecht will suit up for Head Coach Kevin Gee and the Lawrence Technological University Blue Devils in Southfield, MI this fall. The Blue Devils compete in the North Division of the ACHA. Koenigsknecht will major in Civil Engineering and will return home when the Blue Devils take on west side foes Calvin College, Davenport University, Hope College and Grand Valley State. "We are looking forward to adding Mark's skill and energy. He's very creative with the puck and should develop into a key player for us over time." said LTU Coach Gee. Koenigsknecht adds to the West Michigan flavor of the Blue Devils joining Senior James Oh ( East Grand Rapids ) and Grand Valley transfer Levi Parkinson. West Catholic forward Eric Judy has been skating with LTU this summer as well and it seems likely that he will attend Lawrence Tech and play for the Blue Devils for the 09-10 season, following his upcoming senior year."

Sunday, August 3, 2008

East Coast vs West Coast (Hockey not Hip Hop)

An early season word from our raving Mona Blogger, who was raving about East Coast/West Coast rivalries and Tupac Shakur circa early '90s. I'm surprised he missed the obvious lyrical parody opportunity ("I don't give a Puck, they done push me the the limit. The more I live, I might blow up any minute!"). Anyway, it's the first weekend of August and "tha Lunatic" from up north is dropping wisdom about hockey already:

A long Spring/Summer lay-off from hockey naturally results in sloppiness, mental mistakes, confusion, indecision, frustration, crisis in confidence, and ultimately, chaos. But enough about my blogging, it was Hockey Night in West Michigan, and when that phone rang at 3am, I answered the call from the Blogmaster and agreed to terms and an end to my brief life of leisure, travel and temporary retirement from the greatest sport on earth.

Friday August 1, a day that will live in infamy, featured the coaching debut of Level 3 USA hockey coaches and first time varsity bench generals Paul "Chainsaw" Tiefenthal and Bill "I’m Bigger Than Barack In Germany" Hicks. Unlike the East Coast/West Coast rap battles, the only shots fired this weekend were vulcanized rubber, which are non-lethal but can be devastating nonetheless. Expectations were high, with a fast Sailors team featuring somewhere around 300 hopefuls and a visiting Lakeland Eagles squad making their first ever trip to the home of the Sailors. Lakeland Coach Chuck Kennedy, no relation to Sailor hopeful Ryan Kennedy, was also banished from the bench, and initially feared for the safety of his depleted (15 strong) squad as the Sailors came out firing in the first period of the West Coast Shootout, the annual pre-season tourney hosted by the gracious Eric Sikkenga and the Reeths Puffer Rockets, which has grown into Rothbury-type proportions and now featured sixteen teams.

As the Sailors are prone to do, they brought it in the first period, unleashing eleven shots vs. just two for the Eagles. Strong end-to-end play by Chris "I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It" Norkus, son of former Heights Tiger hockey standout Mike Norkus, included a diving poke at the puck to steer it to the net at the 6 minute mark. On the next trip up the ice for the Sailors, Taylor "Give Me" Moore was on the receiving end of a tape to tape pass from fellow forward Tyler McCarl, which Eagle goalie (no rosters to be had by the Mad Blogger for the visiting Eagles) #31 refused from close range. 8:36 into the first, an alert David Coppock picked up a drop pass at the circle and used his off-season improved upper body strength to unleash a guided missel, absorbed by the anonymous Eagle netminder. It wasn’t until the 10 minute mark of the 1st that the Sailors conceded the first shot on goalie Scottie "Blogger in Training" Tiefenthal. The frantic Sailors ran around like Comcast high speed internet rats in the first, and it appeared the virgin Sailor coaches were a lock for generous contracts offered by the Sailors Administration and their lawyers and a looming coaching controversy for the upcoming season.

Then, the proverbial roof fell in. With the first period ending in an Eagle shot which clanged off the post and left Tiefenthal momentarily tone deaf, the Eagles seized the momentum in the second. Coach Kennedy, unable to address his Eagles during intermission due to MHSAA pre-season restrictions, conducted his speech to the players in sign language from across the rink, and it was all Lakeland. 3:35 into the second, #22, who may have been Jr. Nick Sokoll if the internet can be trusted, deposited the puck halfway up the stick side of Tiefenthal’s net to open the scoring. Sailor Tyler McCarl took this personally, and matched Sokoll’s effort a minute later with 10:12 remaining, assisted by Mike Soto and Moore. As the period waned, goalie Tiefenthal made a diving save which tested the stitching on his sweater during an Eagle PP to keep the score tied at 1 to 1. The momentum turning play and death knell for the Sailors occurred with 3:14 remaining, while time stood still as the puck sat for what seemed like days but was only seconds in front of the Lakeland net, uncovered and mocking the Sailors Moore and Soto, who both took unproductive turns trying to force it to its home in the Eagle net. The second period ended, and Sailor fans began to turn on the new coaches, with one vocal mom shaking her head and catcalling to Hicks and Tiefenthal as they hurriedly made their way to their locker room under a hale of snack foods and beverages from fickle fans.

The third period favored the visitors, as they figuratively undressed the Sailors, pouring shots on Tiefenthal and making the Sailors look about as comfortable as Chris Crocker in a biker bar. Just over 3 minutes into the third, defenseman Ryan Mylenek stayed with his man and kept him from shooting on net, but momentarily lost sight of the puck as it came off his foot like a Freddy Adu centering pass. This resulted in an easy game winning goal by #12 of the visitors from White Lake, MI, who may have been Trevor Lloyd, in the corner pocket. Missed passes, puck chasing, individual play, offsides, and poor shooting were just a few of the Sailor highlights in the third. The Eagles finished off the scoring with 5 minutes remaining from # 19, assisted by #’s 88 and 5. The contracts which had been prematurely prepared after the first period for coaches Hicks and Tiefenthal were quickly shredded and used for confetti to shower the winning Eagles as they exited the ice and headed for their lockeroom in the 3-1 victory. Frustrated Sailor coaches huddled in their plush offices and decided it was time to call in a hired gun, who would join them on the bench for game 2 in an effort to turn the tides.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sunday Schedule for West Coast Shootout

Final results:

10:00 Utica 4 Hudsonville 1
10:30 Lake Orion 1 Marquette 0
11:30 Avondale 3 Rockford 3
12:00 Lakeland 4 GRCC 2
1:00 Novi 3 Macomb 3
1:30 FHNE 3 Kalamazoo 2
2:30 Mona 3 Southgate 3
3:00 Riverview GR 3 Puffer 2 (OT)

Saturday Night Shootout Results

The hockey looked much better today out at Lakeshore. Of the games I saw, there was just better flow and puck movement today. Missed the early games with Rockford and FHNE, but caught a lot of the Kalamazoo Blades win over Avondale. The Blades are a young team, but balanced and they hustle. Likewise, GRCC is a young team with a ton of freshman and sophomores playing around a core of 7-8 upperclassmen. They lost 2-1, but outplayed RGR for much of the second and third period. Hudsy looked much stronger than yesterday and kept it close against a tough Macomb team. Mona was pretty dominant against Utica-Eisenhower, and Reeths-Puffer played Lakeland tight, but gave up a 5-on-3 and two shorthanded goals ("We didn't work on special teams in practice this week," said RP Coach Eric Sikkenga.) Scores were:

Southgate 4 Novi 0
Lake Orion 3 Rockford 1
Marquette 3 FHNE 2
Kalamazoo 6 Avondale 3
Lakeland 3 Reeths-Puffer 1
Riverview 2 GRCC 1
Macomb 3 Hudsonville 0
Mona 4 Eisenhower Utica 1

Friday Shootout Results

West Michigan teams didn't fare too well in the Friday night games of the West Coast Shootout, with no wins and only 1 tie in seven contests. (The 8th team in the West bracket is Novi, which doesn't really qualify as West Michigan). The hockey was definitely "summer league" caliber -- it was, in a word, sloppy -- though there was some obvious talent on the ice. And there were no coaches on the benches, as the MHSSA clarified its rules about having coaches in tournaments after August 1st.

I saw parts of four games: Rockford looked very strong against Marquette, especially in the D-zone and the goaltending from Forrest Andrus, but 10 penalties in the last two periods killed them in their 4-1 loss. Forest Hills Northern/Eastern also got some great goaltending from junior to be Ian Jester in their OT loss. GRCC's game against Southgate Anderson was penalty filled and neither team got much flow in a 4-3 win for Southgate, with the game winner coming late on a deflection off a player. A young Hudsonville team was overmatched against a strong Lake Orion team.

I had to leave early, so I didn't catch Mona, Reeths-Puffer or Kalamazoo, but got reports on them. Mona Shores lost 3-1, but the caveat is they played a bunch of kids and, as a result, there wasn't much continuity. Puffer lost 2-0, with the goals coming on a penalty shot and the first shot after the coaches swapped goalies. "It looked like they never played together before, which is true," said RP coach and tourney organizer Eric Sikkenga. The Kalamazoo Blades were the only team from the West that managed to stay out of the losing column, managing a tie against Utica Eisenhower in what was described as a "fast and freewheeling, run-and-gun kind of game."

Don't have a final on the Novi vs. Riverview game, but Novi crushed their opponent and appears to have a great collection of talent this year. Scores, as reported to me, were:

Lake Orion 8 Hudsonville 0
Marquette 4 Rockford 1
Southgate 4 GRCC 3
Macomb Dakota 4 FHN/E 3 (OT)
Avondale 2 Reeths-Puffer 0
Lakeland 3 Mona Shores 1
Kalamazoo Blades 1 Utica- Eisenhower 1
Novi vs. Riverview

Friday, August 1, 2008

West Coast Shootout starts today

CHECK OUT THE 2009 SHOOTOUT'S BLOG HERE!

Not really sure if the summer hockey season is ending or just beginning for high school hockey players. In either case, this weekend Reeths-Puffer hosts the West Coast Shootout up at Lakeshore in Muskegon. Teams from the West Side play teams from the East Side. Looking forward to seeing my bloggers from Rockford, Hudsonville and, of course, Mona for some high school hockey and maybe even a beverage or two. Will be posting updates tonight and tomorrow.

West Division

Hudsonville
GRCC
Rockford
Reeths-Puffer
Mona Shores
Kalamazoo Blades
Forest Hills Northern/Eastern
Novi

East Division
Macomb Dakota
Southgate
Lakeland
Lake Orion
Riverview GR
Avondale
Marquette
Utica-Eisenhower

Friday August 1st
4:00 PM Hudsonville vs. Lake Orion
4:30 PM Rockford vs. Marquette
5:30 PM GRCC vs. Southgate
6:00 PM Forest Hills Northern/Eastern vs. Macomb Dakota
7:00 PM Reeths-Puffer vs. Avondale
7:30 PM Mona Shores vs. Lakeland
8:30 PM Kalamazoo Blades vs. Utica- Eisenhower
9:00 PM Novi vs. Riverview GR

Saturday, August 2nd
4:00 PM Marquette vs. Forest Hills Northern/Eastern
4:30 PM Rockford vs. Lake Orion
5:30 PM Kalamazoo Blades vs. Avondale
6:00 PM Novi vs. Southgate
7:00 PM Reeths-Puffer vs. Lakeland
7:30 PM GRCC vs. Riverview GR
8:30 PM Hudsonville vs. Macomb Dakota
9:00 PM Mona Shores vs. Utica Eisenhower

Sunday, August 3rd
10:00 AM # 8 seed of each division
10:30 AM # 7 seed of each division
11:30 AM # 6 seed of each division
12:00 PM # 5 seed of each division
1:00 PM # 4 seed of each division
1:30 PM # 3 seed of each division
2:30 PM # 2 seed of each division
3:00 PM # 1 seed of each division

Seeds are determined by points in first two games; win = 2, tie/overtime loss = 1, loss = 0. Tie breakers are: Goal differential, Goals For, Least penalty minutes, coin toss

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sports guy Figurski recovering from heart attack

Griffins radio color man and WOOD TV reporter Larry Figurski is recovering from a heart attack that he suffered shortly after playing in a men's league game. According to the news reports, he suffered a minor heart attack and went to the hospital, where he had a massive attack while in doctor's care. Doctors inserted a stent in his artery, which was 100% blocked. A story on the WOOD-TV website says he expects to be back at work within a month. He's a hockey player.

WZZM features EGR hockey team

Click here for a link to a nicely produced story on how the East Grand Rapids hockey team is integrating yoga into its off-season training program. Pioneers coach Joe Day, who played in the NHL, recommended the program as a way to help the EGR team take its performance to the next level. The classes are taught by instructors at Seva Yoga. As a relative newcomer to yoga myself -- that's right, the Blogger does yoga -- I can attest to the amount of sweat that gets induced from a yoga session, and it does build strength and flexibility, especially in the core and the legs.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

GRCC's Dery to Vermont Jr. Team


Just chatted briefly with John Dery, who graduated from Grand Rapids Catholic Central this spring. John confirmed that he'll be playing for the Green Mountain Glades in Burlington, Vermont in the fall. The Glades play in the Eastern Junior Hockey League, which includes teams from throughout New England. A good number of EJHL players end up playing D-1 or D-3 hockey, primarily at schools on the East Coast. Dery says he intends to take some courses while he's playing this fall, but his ultimate hope is to make it to a Division One school to play hockey.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cadillac's Malmborg to Join Soo Jr. team

Looks like a hat trick of Michigan high schoolers will play hockey in the Soo next season. Recent Cadillac grad Mickey Malmborg will join the new Soo Eagles team of the NOJHL next season, joining Big Rapids' d-man Nick Goodfellow and Grandville blueliner Tom Lorenz. Malmborg plans to attend Lake Superior State University in the fall.

PC's Ragains to Sample Some Chowder

Portage Central forward Matt Ragains, who will be a junior next year, was selected to represent Michigan in the 2008 Chowder Cup, held in Boston starting on the 24th. The tournament is a showcase, especially for players who are interested in playing hockey "out east" after high school. Last year, the tournament drew 125 junior, college, prep and NHL scouts, according to an email from one of the Michigan coaches.

Monday, July 7, 2008

TEAM WEST MICHIGAN TRYOUTS SET

Once again, high school hockey players in West Michigan will have the opportunity to try out for Team West Michigan, a select team that will compete in the Michigan Developmental Hockey League (MDHL) during September and October, prior to the beginning of the regular high school season. The tryout dates and times are outlined below. All ice times will be at Kentwood Ice Arena. This is a change from last year. Each player will participate in 3 scrimmages: One on Friday and two on Saturday. Select players will be invited to a third tryout on the following Monday.

Friday August 15
6:00 – 7:15 pm or 7:30 – 8:45 pm

Saturday August 16
am session: 10:00 – 11:15 am or 11:30 am – 12:45 pm
pm session: 3:00 – 4:15 pm or 4:30 – 5:45 pm

Monday, August 18 (by invitation only)
7:00 - 8:30 pm

The cost of the tryout will be $75 to cover the cost of ice time, jerseys (player will keep) and officials. In order to tryout, players must complete the registration form and mail it along with a check made payable to “Team West Michigan.” Registration and check are to be mailed to:

Team West Michigan
c/o J. Murray
1310 E. Wetherfield
Portage, MI 49002

With a limited amount of time for tryouts, the number of players that can be accommodated will be limited. get their information in as soon as possible. Coaches have been encouraged to send top players to attend.

In addition to Team Michigan, the organizers will once again be conducting West Michigan Developmental League. With Team West Michigan and the West Michigan League, there should be a place for all High School caliber players to play. More detailed information regarding the West Michigan League will be sent out in the very near future.

Players interested in trying out for Team West Michigan are encouraged to talk to their coaches. Any additional questions can be directed to Coach Jeff Wressel (Jeffrey.Wressell@53.com) or Portage Central Coach Jim Murray (Jmurray@PortagePS.org). Double-click on the form below to supersize it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Grandville's Lorenz to NOJHL

Grandville's Tom Lorenz joins the ranks of recent West Michigan grads who will be playing Junior A in the fall. Bulldog coach Mike Bynski sent me a note this afternoon that Lorenz will be playing with the new Soo Eagles team, joining Big Rapids' Nick Goodfellow. Lorenz was a senior defenseman for Grandville last season and made first team all conference and the honorable mention all state team in 2007-08. He will be attending Lake Superior State University in the fall.

BR's Goodfellow to NOJHL

Looks like recent Big Rapids grad Nick Goodfellow is heading to Saulte St. Marie next year to play for the new Junior A team called the Soo Eagles. My Big Rapids blogger sends this update:

"Nick a two year defensive player is known for his intensity and pure love of the game. Nick is a fierce player with excellent “all around “skills and should provide an immediate impact to this newly developed team. His former teammates from Big Rapids call him “Deeds”, taken from the Adam Sandler movie “Mr. Deeds”. His new team is located in the Soo and the word on the street is that they will be playing in the historic Pullar Ice arena in SSM Michigan. (If you have never been to SSM and the Pullar Arena, you need to make the trip – it’s truly hockey history at its best.) The NOJHL is a Junior A league based in the providence of Ontario, CANADA. Coach Paul Theriault will be pleased with this West Michigan product as “Deeds” is introduced to NOJHL. His family coaches and wish him well…and “Walter” too!"

Sunday, June 15, 2008

EGR's Glendenning to play at UM

East Grand Rapids center Luke Glendenning will join the University of Michigan hockey team next season as a walk-on, coach Red Berenson announced this week. A three-sport star in high school, Glendenning graduated in 2007 and spent a so-called "13th year" at Hotchkiss, a prep school in Connecticut. The story has it that U of M coaches were out east, scouting another player when they caught a look of Glendenning and found out he was a homegrown Michigan kid. Luke's younger brother, Joe, will be a senior at EGR next season.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Abdelkader Hoists the Cup

My blogger buddy from Mona Shores checked in for the first time in a few months and sent me a pic of Sailor alum Justin Abdelkader lifting the Cup after the Red Wings win. Wondering if he'll try to bring it home for the upcoming Mona Shores golf fundraiser at the Oakridge Country Club in Norton Shores. BTW, that event is being catered by Above & Beyond Banquet, Catering & Events, which I co-own with the mom of my two children. (Yes, that is a shameless plug.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mona's Carlston Headed to USHL?

Just got a note from one of my lakeshore sources that Mona Shores junior Brock Carlston may be headed to the USHL, having been selected to the preliminary roster of the Cedar Rapids Roughriders. The preliminary roster of 28, including 17 newcomers, must be reduced to 25 players by July 1.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lo/Cal's Hayes Wins WMHSH Blog Scholarship

In a race that was as tightly contested as last season's OK Conference championships, Lowell's Ken Hayes has earned the first annual West Michigan High School Hockey Blog Scholarship. Hayes, a forward for the Lowell-Caledonia co-op team that won OK Tier 3 last season, was one of 23 seniors from around West Michigan that applied for the $1,000 scholarship.

It's kind of an understatement to say the competition was tough. The average GPA of all applicants was a 3.7 and the number of extra-curriculars (including volunteer work) that players participated in truly stunned me and the other people who helped me review the applications. For his part, Hayes carried a 4.2 (adjusted) grade point average, was a member of the National Honor Society and spent a fair amount of time volunteering as a math tutor, a mentor for elementary school students, in his church, at school, and as a student athletic trainer.

In addition to hockey, Hayes also ran cross country and played varsity baseball for two seasons. He was Academic All-State in both baseball and hockey. (Ironic note: when the Blogger posted the Academic All State list on the site, I overlooked Hayes' name -- a fact that many readers quickly noted in the comments). Hayes played all four years for Lo-Cal, an experience that had its downs and ups, especially last year. While he didn't score as many goals as his linemates, Justin Story and Drake Chittenden, he says playing with them and, frankly, all of his teammates last season was the highlight of his hockey career, which started at age 9 over at GRAHA. He also played for two years in the now-defunct Grizzlies travel program.

"Last season was the most fun I've ever had playing hockey," he told me. "With the combined schools, you could have had conflict because we're rivals in all the other sports. As teammates, we just all got along and had a great time. For me, personally, it was so great to have a winning record and do as well as we did in the playoffs after the 5 and 8 win seasons during my first few years on the team."

His coach, Mike Ballard, doesn't mince words in praising his four-year player: "He's a whiz kid [academically] and just a very well-rounded kid. On our team last year, he was really more of a role player, and he is the kind of kid who would do anything and everything you'd ask him to. At our banquet I said that if I could coach a team of AAA kids with attitude or a team of Ken Hayes-type players, I'd choose the latter because I'd get more out of the team."

Hayes plans to attend Central Michigan University next year, where he'll study pre-med. He hopes to become a surgeon some day. He says he'll probably play in a local men's league in Mt. Pleasant next year, and hopes to stay involved in the game, including helping out with the Lo/Cal program in the future.

Congrats to Ken, and to all the applicants. I was surprised by the number of applicants this first year and even more surprised by the quality of the applications. The essays, in particular, were great because they were well-written and showed how much hockey has positively impacted your lives outside the rink. I hope you all carry those lessons with you throughout your lives. Thanks for taking the time to apply for the scholarship, and be sure to check your mail in the coming weeks.

Finally, to all those folks who called, emailed and talked to me about making the scholarship an annual thing...all I can say is: "Let's do it." The funds this year came out of my pocket. If you'd like to contribute your "time, talents or treasures" in the future, then get in touch with me and let's discuss. The email is: brian.h.edwards@gmail.com.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Muskegon High Schoolers Drafted by NAHL.

A couple of former high school players from the Muskegon area were selected in last week's North American Hockey League (NAHL) entry draft. Former Mona Shores forward Jeff Anonick, an all-stater who lead the Sailors in scoring in 2007, was picked by the Motor City Machine.

And Reeths-Puffer hockey coach Eric Sikkenga sent me a quick note to alert me to the fact that former Rocket Josh Munford was selected in the 5th round by the Alexandria Blizzard during the NAHL Entry Draft last week. "Good hockey player and even better kid," Sikkenga says of Munford, who played last season for the Soo Midget Major.

Munford joins Bo Jacobs, another former RP player, in heading to the NAHL. Jacobs was tendered by Traverse City earlier this year. The TC team roster also looks like it will include former EK Falcon Ben Dykstra and last year's Mr. Hockey: Josh Miller of Trenton.

Hickson Selected for National Selects

Big Rapids center Mike Hickson was selected at the regional, state, and now will attend the 2008 national Selects camp in New York this summer. The sophomore played mostly house hockey growing up, but has been on the Cardinals high school squad since his freshman year. He's reportedly been skating with the Little Caesar's Midget Major team this spring, and has also been skating with his cousin, Rick Pinkston, a senior defenseman who was recently picked in the 4th round of the USHL draft by the Tri-City Storm. A very reliable source tells the Blogger that Hickson will stay at Big Rapids to finish his high school career.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Janecyk Picked #65 in USHL Entry Draft

Grand Rapids Catholic Central senior Adam Janecyk was chosen as the 65th pick overall in the United States Hockey League entry draft a few minutes ago. Janecyk, a three-time All-State goalie for the Cougars, was picked by the Sioux City Musketeers. If I'm not mistaken, he is the first Michigan high school player selected in this year's draft, though there are other travel players from Michigan who were chosen. He will be joined on the Musketeers by Brent Darnell from Detroit Catholic Central. Darnell was selected 123rd overall. More information to come.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Grandville & Wayland Updates

Have been hearing about some changes at Grandville as well as Wayland and wanted to post updates here. Coach Mike Bynski of Grandville has confirmed his team will co-op with Byron Center next season. That move helps expand the number of potential players for the Bulldogs, who only had 19 kids try out for the team, which rostered 18. The short bench was problematic when players got hurt or were trying to nurse injuries.

Bynski said: "With injuries to a few key players last year and not having the depth on the roster to support these injuries, I felt it was in the best long term interest for our hockey program to seek an alternative source to help draw players from."

The Byron Center-Grandville alliance also solves a potential problem for the Wayland co-op team, which BC had been aligned with over the past few years. The combined enrollment of the four schools in the Wildcat Co-Op program last year -- Wayland Union, Byron Center, Hopkins and Thornapple-Kellogg -- was inching toward the 3500 student maximum occupancy limit for state playoff eligibility. Teams that exceed the maximum cannot participate in the state playoffs.

The timing seems good. BC had only two players on the Wildcat team last year that will be eligible in 2008-09, so leaving now isn't a crippling blow by most accounts. That said, there are a few Byron Center kids coming up through travel hockey at the moment that will have a good shot at making the Grandville team in the fall. Bynski told me in an email that several players from Byron Center are on Grandville's spring hockey team, have participated in its off ice spring camps, and are registered for its summer on ice training sessions.

Hastings is the most likely candidate to replace BC on the Wildcat co-op team. Wildcat coach Ryan McLeod shot me a note that said: "Sorry, I don't know a whole lot at this time. I do know that we are trying to add Hastings and that everything was approved on their end. It looks like it's going to happen, but it's not 100% yet."

Monday, April 21, 2008

South Christian JV Player Killed in Crash

The West Michigan hockey community lost a young high school player yesterday in the car crash down in Caledonia. 16-year-old Nikkolas Carmean was one of the two kids killed in the two-vehicle crash that happened down on 68th Street. Carmean was a sophomore at Thornapple Kellogg High School, and he played junior varsity hockey with the South Christian Hockey Association last year. There is a story on MLIVE here. The Blog offers its condolences to the Carmean family and Nikkolas' friends and teammates. Please feel free to post a comment.

Team Michigan Loses in Semis

Team Michigan got beat 2-0 on Saturday evening by eventual champion Wisconsin in the Chicago Showcase. GRCC's Adam Janecyk put up 30 saves, but the Michigan team couldn't get on the scoreboard. The team had advanced to the semis after a 3-1 win against Northern New England on Saturday morning. For stats and scoresheets, click here.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Team Michigan Update

Team Michigan is an undefeated 1-0-2 (4 points) after the first three games over at the Chicago Showcase with a win over Missouri and a couple of ties against Wisconsin and Northern New England. The two West Michigan players on the roster have contributed, with GRCC forward Clayton Brackett picking up two assists and Cougar netminder Adam Janecyk in the nets for both ties. In the first game, Team Michigan dug itself a 3-1 hole after two periods but rallied behind Janny to earn the tie. In the game against undefeated Wisconsin last night, Janny had 27 saves to preserve the 2-2 tie. Michigan's "Mr. Hockey" (ie, Josh Miller of Trenton) is among the pool leaders in scoring with 4 goals and 2 assists in three games. For complete stats and coverage click here. Rumor is that the top 5 teams in the pool play in the quarters, and TM is playing against Northern New England again in the quarters this morning.

Mona Honors Zimmerman

Was talking with a Mona dad the other day, and he told me to check out the Sailors new website, which includes an update on the team's year-end awards. In particular, he wanted me to read about the Warren Award. Here's what it said: Warren Award is an award give out by the Mona Shores Hockey Club to an individual who has dedicated his time and efforts in the advancement of the Mona Shores Hockey Program. There have only been four recipients of this award over the past 20 years. This is the highest award the club can present. This year we have presented this award to Shawn Zimmerman for his years of service to the team and for his efforts in the advancement of Mona Shores Hockey. Shawn has coached the team to one State Title, two finals appearances. Numerous regional conference championships over his 9 year span as head coach of Mona Shores Varsity. Shawn has had multiple players move from his program to play Tier One Juniors, Division 1, 2 & 3 College Hockey as well as play in the NHL. Congratulations Coach Zimmerman and Thank You for all you have done for the program.

Congrats to Coach Zimmerman. Hope that 2008-09 finds you back on the bench for a local high school team.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hockey Afternoon in Southern Minnesota

Grandville junior goalkeeper Ryan Wysocki donned a tie-dyed HNIWM shirt during a recent campus visit to Minnesota. Check him out hanging around the Gopher's Mariucci Arena.

A note to all Players of the Week: I still owe a few of you t-shirts. If you were named a POW during the season and did not receive your t-shirt, please send me an email with your name and address. Send to: brian.h.edwards@gmail.com.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Scholarship Update

Hey there, hockey blog fans. Wanted to let you all know that I've received about two dozen applications for the inaugural West Michigan High School Hockey Blog scholarship. We will be thoroughly reviewing the applications over the next few weeks with the intent of announcing the scholarship winner in early to mid-May. (Previously, we had said by June 1, but we're ahead of the game for once). Thanks to all who took the time to apply and tell us about how hockey has positively impacted your lives. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Advance Selects All-Area Team, Highlights EK grads

The Advance papers have selected their All Area team for the year. It's an all-senior affair. For the story, click here. The Advance had also done a nice round-up of former East Kentwood players who had a great month in March, including Eric Alexander's scholarship to Ferris and Matt Jones' contact with the San Jose Sharks.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Mona's Abdelkader signs with Red Wings

Looks like Mona grad and MSU player Justin Abdelkader, who was Michigan's Mr. Hockey a few years back, is going to be a Red Wing. The forward signed a tryout contract with the Wings and is expected to be in the lineup tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can read about it here in his hometown paper, the Muskegon Chronicle, or here in the Detroit Free Press.

Friday, March 28, 2008

EK's Jones Signs with NHL's Sharks

Former East Kentwood player Matt Jones, who played two years of high school hockey for the Falcons, has signed an NHL contract with the San Jose Sharks, according to this report. The 6-foot-4, 220 pound forward has played the last two seasons at Merrimack College in Massachusetts. He lead the team with 15 goals this season and netted 7 assists. He's been assigned to their AHL affiliate in Worcester and could play his first professional game this weekend.

Big Rapids Awards

You are a D-3 High School hockey team, you play some of the best teams in the state every year (2 of those in state finals this past year), you are not in a conference, not in a city league, you don’t have all conference selections or all area selections, your independent …you are Big Rapids High School Hockey.

Big Rapids held its annual Hockey Banquet on March 25th and celebrated another successful season. Next year is Big Rapids’ 25th year of High School Hockey and it should be a great celebration for the community, fans and High School. While certain excitement certainly filled the banquet room in anticipation of next year’s team and 25th year celebration events, other expressions from graduating seniors reminded us all that road trips, hotel stays, and locker room antics, as well as your high school hockey career, come to an end for most seniors at the conclusion of the banquet.

Big Rapids had six graduating seniors this year, Goalie Bob Butterfield, defenseman Matt Farnsworth, defenseman Nick Goodfellow, forward Brandon Madaj, forward Paul Goggins and defenseman Tony Ruppel. To each of you – your fans, friends and family say thank you and best of luck in all of your future endeavors…you are truly Big Rapids High School Cardinals forever!

2007-08 Big Rapids High School Hockey Banquet Honors:
Rookie of the Year: Eli Adams, Junior Defenseman: a transfer student from Idaho who held the blue line firmly and consistently all year. The Cardinals look forward to having him back next year, bigger and stronger than ever.

Most Improved Player: Tom Hancock, Sophomore Forward: a playmaker whom can score, Tom went from 2 points his freshman year to 34 points in his sophomore year. Tom’s commitment to the off season demonstrated to many that size and class rank really don’t matter.

Most Improved Player: Billy McMullen, Junior Defenseman: a 2 year blue line player whom demonstrated his toughness and leadership all year and finished as the top defenseman scorer. Billy will surly help anchor the defensive corps next year.

Scoring/Points Leader: Tom Hancock, Sophomore Forward: may have been a surprise to some but not to coaches and others whom know he can play the complete game. His 34 points lead the team and his commitment to his team and teammates shows with every shift. He will look to return and improve those numbers again next year.

Academic Awards: Bob Butterfield, Senior and Jordan Defever, Junior: both players demonstrated their leadership on and off the ice while holding high academic standards in the classroom. Simply put, these guys know how to get it done and demonstrated what a student/athlete is all about.

Defenseman of the Year: Nick Goodfellow, Senior Defenseman: a team Captain whom provided leadership and game intensity to players, fans and opposing teams. Nick’s desire was unmatched on the ice every game, every shift, every practice. His love for the game and leadership will be missed.

Coaches Award: Paul Goggins, Senior Forward: a tough, hard hitting competitor whom came off a knee injury midseason and helped provide the Cardinals with a strong year-end push. Paul’s contributions to the team go beyond his ice time play.

MVP: Mike Hickson, Sophomore Forward: a team Captain who can score (team leading 20+ goals) and demonstrated his ability to change the outcome of games. Mike’s commitment, leadership and desire will help lead this team for the next two years. Returning with fellow sophomore line mates Billy Clark and Tom Hancock, Mike will surly look to improve those numbers.

West Michigan High School Hockey Blog Players of the Week: Tom Hancock, Bob Butterfield and Jordan Defever

All State Honorable Mention: Mike Hickson and Nick Goodfellow

Thanks to the blog, the fans, the coaches and the readers of this site for a spectacular year of hockey, blogging and new friendships. See you next year (or is it next week) on the ice in West Michigan! Doug Hancock-(All Rookie Team Blogger 2007-08)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Brackett, Janecyk make Team Michigan

Looks like GRCC seniors Clayton Brackett and Adam Janecyk will be traveling to Chicago to play as part of Team Michigan. They were the only West Michigan players selected to the team, which includes seniors from around the state and plays in the National High School Hockey Showcase April 16-20.

Should be some interesting conversations in the locker room and some spirited practices for Janny, who'll be teaming with two kids who scored game-winners against him in two of his best-played games this season: Carson Curran of Flint Powers, which beat GRCC 1-0 in the quarters, and Steven Brancheau of Wyandotte, who got an OT winner in the East-West Invitational.

Congrats to both Cougar players and good luck in Chicago!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Muskegon All Area Hockey Awards

Received an email a little while ago from one of the coaches up in the Muskegon area. He and his fellow coaches in the Greater Muskegon Area Coaches Association have selected an all-area hockey awards. The selections include:

First Team

Forwards:
Luke Reenders- GH
Adam Pieczynski- MCC
Ben Sikkenga- RP
Adam Meloche- MS
JC Boyd- MS
Ryan Fedo- Manistee

Defense:
Chris Kendro- MCC
Jake Hambidge- RP
Joey Tomczyk- Manistee
Brock Carlston- MS

Goalie:
Eddie Young- RP

Second Team

Forwards
Noah VanBergen- MCC
Jeff Musselmen- MCC
Ryan Burmeister- MS

Defense:
Dan Brady- GH
Erin Cutter- MCC

Goalie:
Scott Tiefenthal


Honorable Mention

Forwards:
Kyle Zeppenfeld- MCC
Matt Medema- RP
Logan Rohdy- Manistee

Defense:
Jared Panozzo- MCC
Andrew Ulfsax- MS

Goalie:
Thomas Marine- MCC

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Coaching changes

A couple of quick coaching changes to Blog. Got a note from Kevin Zaschak of Forest Hills Northern/Eastern yesterday, who said he has resigned from coaching the hockey team to pursue his doctorate degree at MSU. He admits to becoming a Spartan is "weird" having grown up in the shadow of Ann Arbor as a Wolverine fan. No word on his replacement.

Also over in Forest Hills, Scott Titus has stepped down from the head coaching job at FHC to focus on family -- his wife is reportedly pregnant -- and teaching. Titus teaches at East Grand Rapids High School, where he also coaches the JV baseball team. Over at West Catholic, Pat Thompson and his staff will not be behind the bench next year. Have heard that WC's JV coach Curt Wildman will take over.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

GRCC's Kane wins Perserverance Award

Congratulations to senior Matt Kane, the senior from the Grand Rapids Catholic Central Cougars. Earlier today, Kane was named the 2008 winner of the MHSCHA Perserverance Award, given annually to a high school hockey player who has overcome a significant happening in his/her life and through their courage, determination and desire not to quit, have made the most of their situation. There were three winners this year, though the award is typically presented annually to one player, inclusive of all divisions, who exhibits the following qualities:

  1. Courage
  2. Determination
  3. Over come adversity
  4. Perseverance
  5. Dedication to H.S. hockey
  6. Positive example to others
  7. Minimum 2.0 GPA
Kane, who was a captain for the two years, has had multiple surgeries to treat a brain tumor that was discovered when he was 12 years old. The Grand Rapids Press provided a nice account of his illness and determination to overcome it back in January.

Any one who knows Matt knows what a great kid -- and a great hockey player -- he is. A prototype captain who works hard at practice, leads by example and is great in the locker room, too. The MHSCHA couldn't have chosen a better recipient for the award.

MHSCHA Dream Team Announced

The MHSHCA unveiled its annual Dream Team today at a banquet in Livonia. The Dream Team represents the 6 best players as voted by the member coaches of the MHSHCA. This year's team includes:

  • Josh Miller - Trenton
  • Nathan Milam - Livonia Churchill
  • Steve Brancheau - Wyandotte
  • Arthur Griem - Grosse Pointe South
  • Carson Curran - Flint Powers
  • Trevor Sattelmeier - Grosse Pointe South

No West Michigan dream teamers this year, though three players were nominated: Adam Janecyk and Kevin Boman of GRCC, and Ben Grover of East Kentwood. Of course, the Dream Team is typically dominated by teams from Southeast Michigan. Since its founding in 1999, eight West Michigan players have been named to the Dream Team, including two-time winner Eric Alexander of East Kentwood.

Additionally, the MHSHCA also named its 2008 Mr. Hockey: Josh Miller of Trenton. The senior forward from the Division 2 champions, considered by many to be the best team in the state this year, had 86 points over the past season (43 goals, 43 assists). The Detroit Freep did a nice write up on him earlier this month.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

GR City League Honors

The Grand Rapids City League voted on its all-conference honors last week, and the following players were honored for their play in CL contests:

1st Team
Paul Ziemke, Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Matt Kane, Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Clayton Brackett, Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Tyler Spiering, Grand Rapids Christian
Kyle Carpenter, Ottawa-Union
Matt Woronko, West Catholic
Lucas McShosh, Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Mark Koenigsknecht, Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Jeff Zahm, Ottawa Union
Adam Janecyk, Grand Rapids Catholic Central

Honorable Mention
Mike Judy, West Catholic
Spencer Boorsma, West Catholic
Jordan Rose, Grand Rapids Christian
Scott Plakmeyer, Grand Rapids Christian
Mitch Bryant, Grand Rapids Christian
Tim Zmudka, Ottawa Union
John Dery, Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Kevin Boman, Grand Rapids Catholic Central

Congratulations to all City League players for representing their teams in the last year of CL play. Good luck to all as the teams integrate into the OK Conference next season.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Reminder: $1000 Hockey Scholarship

Just a quick reminder that the deadline is fast-approaching for the scholarship being offered by WMHSH Blog. The $1,000 scholarship will go to a graduating West Michigan senior who plans to head off to college in the fall. Application deadline is March 30, 2008. You can download the form here, or send me an email and I'll shoot you a PDF of the form.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thanks...

Back in the '70s, I was a die hard Philadelphia Flyers fan who used to play street hockey every day of the week. I never even owned a pair of ice skates, though. In fact, I don't think I ever went ice skating until I was in about 8th grade. But man, I knew quite a bit about the Broad Street bullies: Bobby Clark's point totals, Bernie Parent's goals against and Dave Schultz' PIM.

On Mondays, there was no street hockey because I had piano lessons. I liked the idea of playing piano, and can remember hassling Mrs. Wheeler to go easy on the Mozart and let me try some Stevie Wonder. Once, at a recital, I banged out a version of "You are the Sunshine of My Life" that was met with blank stares and polite applause. Still, my musical limitations didn't stop me from soaking up everything there was to know about Stevie, the Beatles, Boston and a thousand other bands. Back in the day, we had the long-playing (LP) record albums, which usually had the lyrics (so you could sing along) as well as some liner notes with triva about the music, the players, the sessions and, of course, the thank yous.

The net of it is this: Whether it was a game I didn't play or music that I couldn't play, I've always been a fan and always been a bit obsessive. So watching nearly 100 high school hockey games and blogging about them isn't really a stretch for me. What has shocked me is how people have responded to it. The site has been "hit" almost 120,000 times since I put a counter on the day after Christmas, and I long ago lost track of the number of people who've stopped me at the rinks or sent me emails.

The #1 question people ask me is: How do you find time to do all this?

The answer: I don't.

The Blog may have been my creation, but it is the work of many people throughout West Michigan. That is the beauty of it. It's a community thing. Hell, it's a beautiful, groovy thing, and I can say that because I'm from the '70s. And here is the part in my "liner notes" where I do the thank yous to all the awesome hockey people who've made this first season of the WMHSH Blog so much fun.

Thanks to my bloggers in the field, especially Gary Guest, Bob Wheelright, Doug Hancock, Jim Valk, P.J. Scott, and Scott Whitman. Oh yeah, and that raving lunatic up in the Mona Shores area, who I've decided needs to stay anonymous for his own personal safety. Seriously, these guys have the sickness just as much as me. They don't just go to their own kids' games. I see them at other games, and they send me blog dispatches. Bob Wheelright followed Portage Central all the way to the quarterfinals -- even though his son plays for PC's biggest rival, Portage Northern. That, readers, is dedication.

Plus, thanks to all the folks who've sent me pictures to post on the Blog, including, but not limited to, Shane Hansen, Eric Sturr, Randy Ellen, Dan Dewitt, Jon Post and the budding 12-year old hockey star & photojournalist Connor Sullivan.

Special thanks to a couple of Mona Shores dads -- Bill Hicks and Jeff Zaloga -- who helped set the tone for the Blog (and never failed to crack me up). My conversations and email exchanges with them early on helped me figure out "how" I wanted the Blog to portray what was going on. In fact, Mr. Hicks himself sent me an email with this line: "The positive objectivity which you exhibit in your write ups adds to the value of the webpage." I loved that phrase -- positive objectivity -- and have made it a credo of the WMHSH Blog. There's enough bad news and snarkiness in the mainstream media and on MLIVE - the Blog wants to keep it real and keep it positive.

Lowell-Caledonia coach Mike Ballard also deserves a ton of credit for keeping me (and everyone else) updated on the OK Conference results and standings. There wasn't a Sunday morning all season that I didn't open my email and find the updated results, standings and upcoming week's schedule waiting. He's the reason I was able to figure out which games to go to every week.

Thanks also to the coaches, referees, rink managers, hockey dads and hockey moms who gave me their time, thoughts and help throughout the season. This is a partial list because my memory is fading and besides, there isn't enough bandwidth to thank everyone who deserves it. Thanks to Ed Van Portfliet, Dan Gadbois, Kevin Zaschak, Jason Caster, Joe Day, Mike Bynski, Dave Adams, Eric Sikkenga, Pat Rabbit, Jeff Huizenga, Andy Soper, Ryan McLoed, Scott Titus, Kevin Hausch, Pat Thompson, Darrick Brown, J.D. Kalleward, Jim Murray, Chris Givens, Jason Rintala, Mike Neuman, Brian Parsons, Bret Baker, Pete Piatek, Rob Clark, Kim Allen, Andy O'Brien, Steve Afendoulis, Jim Bresko, Kathy Harwood, Carri Shipalia, Kelli Meloche, Don Ziemke, Doug Vandevelde, Pat Ragains, Patty Alexander, Jeff Peel and all of the GRCC parents.

A special tip of the hat to the GRCC coaching staff -- Al Kranzo, Kurt Romero, Matt Milanowski -- for their help, insights and for helping turn the SOB (son-of-a-blogger) into a young man.

While I know some of you think they're blind, the on and off-ice officials have helped me cover hockey more thoroughly and more accurately. Special thanks to Randy Sheahan, Dave Rost, Joel Potter and the aforementioned Kurt Romero (who's also a ref) for educating me on the game. And I could not overlook Mr. Tom Jones, the king of off-ice officials, who's become a good source of information and a good friend of the Blog.

Special thanks to the folks in the West Michigan media who stepped up their hockey coverage this year, especially the boys at FOX 17, who made prep hockey a regular part of their sports coverage -- and made it quickly accessible on the Web. Huge thanks to Tim Dye, Tim Doty, Brent Ashcroft, Matt Kucinek and the camera guys who shot games, especially Kent.

Likewise, others in the media increased their prep hockey output this year and deserve our thanks, including WOOD-TV (Jack Doles and Larry Figurski), WZZM (Peter Ross), the Muskegon Chronicle (Troy Ruel), Grand Rapids Press (Steve Vedder and Kelly Hill), and Kalamazoo Gazette (Dave Jenkins). And to the folks at the Advance papers -- great job covering hockey in West Michigan! Likewise, thanks to the Grand Haven Tribune, Traverse City Record Eagle, Channel 9/10 and Holland Sentinel for giving me content to link to

On a personal note, I would like to thank my lovely and talented daughter, Madison, who lent me her camera all season and who has, over the past 10 years, had to endure trips to the rinks, weekends away at tournaments and endless conversations about hockey. Just when she thought my hockey-time was on the wane, I started the Blog, which upped the amount of hockey-talk exponentially.

Finally, the WMHSH Blogger thanks two people who have taught me more about hockey than anyone else: my good friend, Todd Bell, and my son, Quinn Edwards. One of them is a master of the game, the other is a student of the game. Most importantly, they always remember that it is a game and they help me keep it in perspective.

And last, but certainly first, thanks to each and every one of the kids who played varsity hockey in West Michigan this year. Whether you were all-state or just your mom and dad's favorite player, you deserve our respect for balancing schoolwork with practices, games and workouts. Thanks for an awesome season.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Academic All State Honors

The Blog brought you the All-State players from West Michigan a couple days ago, and now the entire list of players selected to all-state has been posted on the MHSHCA site here. You can also download the list of schools and players that were deemed Academic All State players. Because the WMHSH Blog values student-athletes, we are pleased to present the following players and teams from West Michigan that earned Academic All State Honors:

PLAYERS:
Michael Malmborg, Cadillac
Ian McDonald, East Grand Rapids
William Azkoul, East Grand Rapids
Tyler Copeland, East Kentwood
Travis Miller, East Kentwood
Morgan Feenie, Forest Hills Central
Grady Heinz, Forest Hills Central
Kevin Pechumer, Forest Hills Central
Stephen Hohs, Forest Hills Central
Matt McSween, Forest Hills Northern/Eastern
Andrew Rennaker, Forest Hills Northern/Eastern
Nick Ullery, Forest Hills Northern/Eastern
Sean Winks, Forest Hills Northern/Eastern
Danny Hamilton, Forest Hills Northern/Eastern
Rob Bengel, Forest Hills Northern/Eastern
Lucas McShosh, Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Jacob Jeffers, Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Ken Hayes, Lowell/Caledonia
Ryan Burmeister, Mona Shores
Noah VanBergen, Muskegon Catholic Central
Christopher Kendro, Muskegon Catholic Central
Kyle Kampenga, Muskegon Catholic Central
Erik Hoffman, Portage Central
J Rehm, Portage Central
Kevin Campbell, Portage Northern
Richie Connelly, Portage Northern
Matt Norman, Portage Northern
Nick Vaderlinde, Reeths-Puffer
Eric Schwab, Reeths-Puffer
Sam Kreuze, Rockford
Nicholas Aja, Traverse City Central
Jeffrey Stych, Traverse City Central
Brian Kelly, Traverse City West
Jedidiah Grooters, West Ottawa
Tyler Stokes, West Ottawa
Brett Lowell, West Ottawa
David Broome, West Ottawa

TEAMS:
East Grand Rapids
East Kentwood
Forest Hills Central
Forest Hills N/E
Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Holland West Ottawa
Lowell/Caledonia
Mona Shores
Muskegon Catholic Central
Portage Central
Portage Northern
Reeths-Puffer
Rockford
Traverse City Central
Traverse City West
West Catholic

Sunday, March 9, 2008

MHSHCA 2007-2008 All State Honors

The 2008 MHSHCA All State Honors list is out. Actually, it's been out. I'm told they were passing out the list down at Compuware yesterday during the games, which came as a surprise to some of the coaches I've spoken with. Typically, the coaches are given the chance to talk to their players first before the all-state lists are distributed. I decided to wait until tonight to give West Michigan coaches the opportunity to share the good news directly with their players who've earned the all-state honors.

At any rate, the following represents a list of the 44 West Michigan high school hockey players who earned all-state recognition for the 2007-2008 season. Congratulations go to each player on the list, as well as many who were not on the list. There were some names that I was (pleasantly) surprised to see on the lists and there were a few shocking omissions (e.g., not a single player from Mona Shores?!) I know that Blog readers will have comments on this list, so please feel free, but keep it positive. You can question the coaches for leaving players off, but don't question them for putting players on!


FIRST TEAM ALL STATE

Division 1
Alex Host, forward - Hudsonville
Todd Knaus, forward - Traverse City West
Ben Grover, defenseman - East Kentwood
Jaron Gregorczyk, defenseman - Hudsonville

Division 2
Shane Darrow, forward - Traverse City Central

Division 3
Kevin Boman, forward - Grand Rapids Catholic Central
John Dery, forward - Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Clayton Brackett, forward - Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Adam Janecyk, goalie - Grand Rapids Catholic Central


SECOND TEAM ALL-STATE

Division 1
Andrew Beeg, forward - Rockford
Andy Grypma, forward - Grandville
Dylan Sullivan, forward - Traverse City West
Jeff Sanders, forward - East Kentwood
Tyler Copeland, forward - East Kentwood
David Hanrahan, defenseman - Traverse City West

Division 2
Evan Hess, forward - Forest Hills Central
Jared Hook, forward - Portage Central
Dominic Braganini, forward - Portage Northern
Taylor Keyworth, defenseman - Forest Hills Central
Hunter Kelly, goalie - Traverse City Central

Division 3
Lucas McShosh, defenseman - Grand Rapids Catholic Central


ALL STATE HONORABLE MENTION

Division 1
Ian Straayer, forward - Grandville
John Kersaan, forward - Hudsonville
Jordan Steger, forward - Lowell-Caledonia
Jon Kusava, forward - Lowell-Caledonia
Tom Lorenz, defenseman - Grandville
Pete Herman, goalie - Hudsonville

Division 2
Drew Preson, forward - Forest Hills Central
Jeff Johnston, forward - Forest Hills N/E
Andrew Rennaker, forward - Forest Hills N/E
Luke Swardenski, forward - Forest Hills N/E
Kevin Campbell, forward - Portage Northern
Ben Sikkenga, forward - Reeths-Puffer
Dane Macdonnell, forward - Traverse City Central
Spencer Mulder, defenseman - Forest Hills N/E
Sam Swardenski, defenseman - Forest Hills N/E
Chris Sandmeyer, defenseman - Portage Central
Doug Wheelright, defenseman - Portage Northern
Eric Swy, defenseman - Traverse City Central
Eddie Young, goalie - Reeths-Puffer

Division 3
Michael Hickson, forward - Big Rapids
Nick Goodfellow, defenseman - Big Rapids
Dominic Lefere, defenseman - Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Zac Smith, goalie - Kenowa Hills

Congratulations to all players on being named to the All State teams. Finally, the Dream Team and Mr. Hockey have not been announced yet. We'll blog those items as soon as they're available.

D-1 Championship ends in a 1-1 tie

If you haven't heard, the Division 1 championship game was called after 8 overtimes with the game tied 1-1. Marquette and Orchard Lake St. Mary's were named co-champions. Personally, I think ties are the worst of all outcomes in sports. While I understand that there was concern for the health of the players, they certainly could have figured out another way to end it. Penalty shots? Let them rest for a night and play another game? Give them each a series of downs starting at the 25 yard line?

This was the championship game of the Divison 1 hockey season. Playing 30 games to end up kissing your sister. Not a big fan of the decision. So what are your thoughts on a 1-1 tie in the championship game?