Preseason Top 25 Ice Hockey teams: Detroit C.C. tops the list, Cranbrook Kingswood, Livonia Stevenson follow
As the 2015-2016 hockey campaign gets into high gear, it’s safe to say that the talent level is arguably at an all-time high, and the level of competition around all three divisions should reflect that this season.
After polling many coaches to get the process rolling, State Champs presents the first Top 25, regardless of division, for this new season.
1. Detroit Catholic Central. Coach Brandon Kaleniecki takes over the defending division one champs, and per usual, the Shamrocks are loaded with talent. Joe Mancinelli leads a balanced attack, while Alec Calvaruso is one of the goalies to watch in the entire state.
2. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood. Coach Andy Weidenbach added his 10th Championship last season, and the Cranes will be led this season by the dynamic Alex Lycett.
3. Livonia Stevenson. Coach David Mitchell and his Spartans made it all the way to the Division 2 final, and look to take that next step this season. The defensive corps is solid, and Cullen Barber is one of the best in the business between the pipes.
4. Orchard Lake St Mary’s. Many of the coaches I polled singled out the Eaglets as a team they expect to take a big step forward. Coach Brian Klanow has a deep team in the always tough Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League.
5. Trenton. Division 2 might be the most competitive of all the divisions and forward Brandon Morgan will help lead the way for the Trojans.
6. Birmingham Brother Rice. The defending champ from Division 2 will have a lot of competition, but it will be hard to knock the champ off the throne with talented players like Jaret Koger patrolling the blue line.
7. U-D Jesuit. Six of the first seven teams here are from the MIHL, and deservedly so. The Cubs had a great run to the Division 1 semifinals last season, and should be poised to make a similar run.
8. Grand Rapids Catholic Central. It’s no secret that the west side of the state has been churning out quality players and teams, but coach Mike Slobodnik and his Cougars might be the best one out there.
9. Grandville. Coach Joel Breazeale and the Bulldogs might object to the notion that Catholic Central is the best team out in west Michigan. Back-to-back trips to the Division 1 final shows that the Bulldogs are a program to be reckoned with.
10. Novi. Coach Mark Vellucci and the Wildcats are another dangerous Division 2 team that seemingly keeps reloading the talent.
11. Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett. The Knights were an exciting team to watch last year, and many feel this is the team that can give Cranbrook Kingswood its best challenge in Division 3.
12. Hartland. Coach Rick Gadwa and the Eagles always seem to get better as the season progresses, making them a dangerous playoff team year in year out.
13. Brighton. Coach Paul Moggach has another talented squad and, with its championship history, don’t be surprised if Brighton ends up at USA Hockey Arena again in March.
14. Traverse City Central. Coach Chris Givens is one of the most respected coaches in the game today, and the Trojans are led by one of the best defenseman in the state in Andrew Froese.
15. Utica Eisenhower. Coach Bob Hall and his Eagles are one of the biggest reasons why the MAC Red Division is not known as just a football conference any longer.
16. Grosse Pointe South. Coach Bobby McKillop and the Blue Devils made it all the way to the semifinals last year before falling to eventual champ, Brother Rice. They will be right back in the mix in the deep Division 2 ranks.
17. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central. Coach Zaschak and the Rangers put their names on the map last season, and are deep enough to take the next step in Division 3.
18. Romeo. The Bulldogs snuck up on a few last year but with Logan Jenuwine, Nick Blankenburg and Nolan Kare all returning that will not be the case this season.
19. Flint Powers. Eight different coaches used a variation of "look out for Powers in Division 3" assessment in the process of doing this poll. Coach Travis Perry and his Chargers may see a return trip to Plymouth in March.
20. Northville. The Mustangs have a lot of young talent. That talent won’t be young by years end, making them a potential dangerous foe at playoff time.
21. Warren De La Salle. The Pilots had a nice run last year and playing in the MIHL will make them a tough out once again come playoff time.
22. Calumet. Two different coaches told me that Calumet might just be the best in the Upper Peninsula. The Copper Kings boast a strong blue line led by Jack Sturos.
23. Houghton. Coach Corey Markham and the Gremlins will push Calumet in the Upper Peninsula, and push everybody else in Division 3 as well. Reid Pietila is one of the best forwards in the state.
24. Rochester United. Coach Craig Staskowski is in a situation much like Northville faces. Rochester must replace talented players with younger players. Like the Mustangs, this is a team to watch once the playoffs start.
25. Detroit Country Day. Coach Frank Novock will have another talented squad with forward Hayden Taylor leading the way.
The Next Five Teams to Watch: Howell, Livonia Franklin, Salem, Traverse City West, Sault Ste. Marie.