Boys Hockey Final Rankings: Brother Rice takes over top spot, Brighton is No. 2 and Hartland remains in top 5
Another outstanding MHSAA Hockey season ended this past Saturday, culminating with three championship games at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth. Here is the final ranking in 2016-2017.
1. Birmingham Brother Rice. The Division 2 Champion Warriors were either #1 or #2 for a vast majority of the season, and at seasons end, find themselves firmly in the #1 slot. How dominant were the Warriors under first-year coach Kenny Chaput? They outscored their opponents in the tough Division 2 ranks by a combined 27-7 in the playoffs, with no game closer than a three-goal margin. The Warriors have earned the unofficial title of "best team in the state".
2. Brighton. The Division 1 champion Bulldogs had quite the road to finish on top and dispatched of three top 10 teams along the way, saving the best for last with a dominant performance at USA Hockey arena with wins over Northville (5-0) and Detroit Catholic Central (5-2) to capture their first title since 2013.
3. Warren DeLaSalle. The Pilots won their first championship under first-year coach Craig Staskowski with a dominant march through the Division 3 ranks. The Pilots outscored their opponents 25-5 in the playoffs and Thomas Hernandez sniped a hat trick amongst his four points in the 6-3 finals victory over Calumet.
4. Hartland. The Eagles lost two games in state all season, both of them to Brother Rice. Coach Rick Gadwa has built a fantastic program in a short span and they have become a mainstay near the top of the Division 2 ranks.
5. Detroit Catholic Central. The Shamrocks played their best hockey late in the year to make it to the Division 1 final before falling to Brighton. Coach Brandon Kaleniecki and the Shamrocks will not rest in the quest to get that title back next year.
6. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. The Eaglets were on fire heading into the playoffs with wins over Brother Rice and DeLaSalle before losing in overtime to Brighton in the playoffs.
7. Calumet. The Copper Kings amazing season came to a close in the Division 3 final, but for a team that started out 0-4 on the season, what an incredible ride it was, going 23-3-1 the rest of the way.
8. Flint Powers. The Chargers season came to an end in the Division 3 semifinals in a loss to Calumet, one of only two losses on the season, with the other coming to Brother Rice.
9. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central. Another Division 3 team in the top 10, the Rangers had three one goal losses on the season (twice to Flint Powers, once to Grandville] coach Kevin Zaschak has built a winner on the west side of the state.
10. Northville. The Mustangs just kept improving as the season went on making their first final four appearance since 2004 in the process. Coach Clint Robert deserves coach of the year consideration for his efforts.
11. Grosse Pointe South. The Blue Devils were as dangerous as any team in Division 2 heading into the playoffs, as they had rattled off 11 straight wins, before falling to Brother Rice.
12. Livonia Stevenson. Coach David Mitchell did a fine job with a young squad and with so many returning, including junior goaltender Will Tragge, the Spartans will be one of the top teams in Division 2 next year.
13. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood. The Cranes got healthy at the right time, and were a threat to anybody in Division 1, before eventually falling to Northville in an overtime thriller.
14. Hancock. The 2016 Division 3 champions were once again one of the top teams in Division 3. But as the bracket had it Hancock had to face Calumet in round one. The Bulldogs might have ended up back at USA Hockey arena in another bracket.
15. Saline. The Hornets had put together a 13-game win streak before falling to Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern-Eastern in the Division 2 semifinal.
16. Livonia Churchill. Coach Jason Reynolds and the Chargers were a Division 2 threat all year, and had two memorable overtime games in the playoffs with a win over Trenton, and a double overtime loss to Saline.
17. Detroit Country Day. The Yellow Jackets are another team that found their stride as the season progressed, they finished strong with 10 wins in 12 games, before falling to the eventual Division 3 Champions, Warren DeLaSalle.
18. Plymouth. Coach Gerry Vento did a solid job after a midseason slump of getting the Wildcats back on track, and picked up a couple wins in the Division 2 playoffs.
19. Trenton. Coach Chad Clements and the Trojans got hot late as well, before falling in overtime to Livonia Churchill in the playoffs. I expect the Trojans to be one of the teams to beat next season.
20. Grand Forest Hills Northern-Eastern. Coach Tom Bissett has brought his squad to USA Hockey Arena two years running now, and another budding program to watch on the westside.
21. Grandville. The Bulldogs have been a mainstay at USA Hockey arena and coach Joel Breazeale is the model of consistency for his squad.
22. Salem. Coach Ryan Ossenmacher had the Rocks as one of the teams that nobody wanted to face at Division 2 playoff time, a tough bracket paired them with Plymouth once again.
23. Utica Eisenhower. Coach Bob Hall continues to get the most out of his squad, and they put a serious scare into Detroit C.C. in the playoffs, before losing 5-2.
24. Houghton. Coach Corey Markham continues to keep his Gremlins as one of the top teams in Division 3, and in the state.
25. Romeo. The Bulldogs were Division 2 champions in 2016, and Nick Badder must be commended for getting this young squad into a position where they were a real threat by seasons end.