Top 25 Michigan boys hockey rankings: Detroit CC grabs No. 1 spot in first rankings of 2018-19, followed by D2 Hartland, D3 U-D Jesuit
With three weeks of game action under our belts, it’s a perfect time to unveil our first hockey rankings of the 2018-19 season:
1. Novi Detroit Catholic Central — Deep, fast, and constantly after the puck, the Shamrocks are the easy choice as the No. 1 team in our first poll of the season. Two opposing coaches said this team is better than the team that lost a grand total of one game in-state last season, in the Division 1 semifinals to Brighton.
2. Hartland — The defending Division 2 Champs deserve the top spot in D-2, and have scored 31 goals in their 5-0 start to the season. Coach Rick Gadwa just keeps reloading the Eagles on a yearly basis.
3. Detroit U of D Jesuit — Many coaches in the Detroit area told me to "look out" for the Cubbies before the season began. So far, they are not wrong, as the Cubbies are off to a 5-0 start, and deserve the top spot in Division 3.
4. Saginaw Heritage — The Hawks had a memorable run to the Division 1 championship game last year, before falling to Brighton, and are off to a fast start with three wins over teams ranked in our top 25 (Brighton, Forest Hills Central and Forest Hills NE).
5. Detroit Country Day — The defending Division 3 champs are off to another solid start, and Sam Evola remains a goalie that can steal a game from anybody.
6. Birmingham Brother Rice — The Warriors are loaded this season, and the only loss so far is a one-goal loss to Catholic Central. Head Coach Kenny Chaput has one of the best blueliners in the high school ranks in Ethan Nystrom.
7. Trenton — The Trojans are off to yet another fast start, with their only loss coming in a one-goal game against U of D Jesuit. An opposing coach told me that head coach Chad Clements can roll four lines all game, and not worry a lot about a drop off up front.
8. Warren De La Salle — The Pilots are a big part of the loaded Division 3 ranks this year, and they are off to a fine start, with their only loss coming to Detroit Catholic Central by a goal.
9. Livonia Stevenson — The Spartans dropped their opening game to Brother Rice, but have reeled off four straight wins since, with three of those wins coming against opponents in our top 25 (Brighton, Cranbrook-Kingswood and Northville).
10. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood — The Cranes are back in Division 3, and as always, they have the talent to beat anybody, regardless of division. You know they would love to get one more title for Head Coach Andy Weidenbach, in the last season of his illustrious career.
11. Salem — The Rocks are off to a 2-1 start to the season, with wins over Brighton and Novi. Head coach Ryan Ossenmacher had this to say about his club’s start: "We are getting contributions up and down the lineup from our returners, and some new players. It’s important with a couple of key players out with injury.”
12. Calumet — The Copper Kings look to be the best in the always competitive Upper Peninsula early on, and will be a threat to Division 3 as a whole. Look out for the trio of Brent, Scott and Dean Loukus.
13. Plymouth — Head coach Gerry Vento has yet another dangerous Wildcat team, and they would love nothing more than to take the next step, and punch a ticket to USA Hockey Arena in March for the Division 2 semifinals.
14. Houghton — The Gremlins always seem to have a team to look out for in the Division 3 ranks, and you can bet that head coach Corey Markham will have his guys giving 100 percent every shift.
15. Saline — Head coach Paul Fassbender has another formidable threat in the Division 2 ranks, as the Hornets have become the class of the Southeastern Conference.
16. Brighton — The Bulldogs are the defending Division 1 champs, and one thing is for sure: They will be ready for all challengers come playoff time, as they seem to get better as the year progresses year after year.
17. Orchard Lake St Mary’s — The Eaglets play one of the state’s toughest schedules, but have the talent to beat anybody in the state as well. Keep an eye on Bryce Kallen up front, and Keaton Strunk on the blue line.
18. Byron Center — The Bulldogs are making an early claim for the best on the west side of the state, with a 3-1 start on the season.
19. Grand Rapids Catholic Central — Head coach Mike Slobodnik has another talented Cougar squad, and the only loss so far has come at the hands of the red-hot U of D Jesuit team at No. 3 in our poll.
20. Brownstown Woodhaven — The Warriors are off to a fast 5-1 start that has seen them score 44 goals in six games, while the electric Zach Robinson is leading the way with 12 goals and 12 assists in just six games.
21. Alpena — The Wildcats are off to a 6-0 start, and have allowed only two goals on the season, behind the goaltending of Cooper Black.
22. Rockford — The Rams are a veteran-laden team that will be an interesting watch on the west side, and in Division 1 as a whole.
23. Forest Hills Central — The Rangers are off to a 4-1 start, and head coach Kevin Zaschak returns a lot of pieces from a young team last season that got better as the year progressed.
24. Northville — The Mustangs are always a team to watch, but new head coach Gordie Brown knows that you can’t afford a night off in the tough KLAA.
25. Forest Hills Northern-Eastern — Head Coach Tom Bissett has another talented squad, and they will be battle-tested and ready for yet another run to USA Hockey Arena in March, as they really take the show on the road to play anybody anywhere.