Warriors in the News

BOYS HOCKEY PREVIEW: Oakland County's dominance to continue




BOYS HOCKEY PREVIEW: Oakland County's dominance to continue

Catholic Central will be hard to stop

Of The Oakland Press

Never short on talent, Oakland County should once again be the class of hockey in Michigan for the 2011-12 season. If past championships — the county has won 15 of the 30 MHSAA state championships over the past decade — doesn’t say enough, then the fact that seven county teams were ranked in the first state rankings of the 2011-12 season should speak volumes on the level of hockey in Oakland County.

Novi Detroit Catholic Central is ranked No. 1 in Division 1, and is quite possibly the best team in the entire state. Birmingham Brother Rice holds down the top spot in Division 2, and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood is No. 2 in Division 3.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, always a threat to win a state championship, is also ranked in Division 1, as is Novi. Oxford and Walled Lake Northern earned Top-10 rankings in Division 2.

Yep, the stage is set for Oakland County teams to once again dominate the hockey landscape come March. But first, here’s an early-season preview of sorts, a look at the Top-10 teams the county has to offer:

4. Birmingham Brother Rice

To show the depth of high school hockey in Oakland County, consider the Warriors example No. 1. Brother Rice currently sits in fourth place in the MIHL (behind Catholic Central, Cranbrook and Trenton), yet it is ranked No. 1 in the state in Division 2.

Coach Lou Schmidt Jr.’s team has what many consider to be the best player in the state in Mackenzie MacEachern. The senior is the reigning MIHL scoring champion and was co-MVP of the league last year, to go along with his first-team all-state honor. He has 18 points through the team’s first six games, as the Warriors are the highest-scoring team in the league.

He’s not alone in providing firepower for Rice. Junior linemates Thomas Ebbing and Russell Cicerone have 11 and seven points, playing alongside the MSU-bound MacEachern. Others who have or are expected to produce offensively are sophomore Blake Bazzi (8 points), senior Eric Dibble and juniors Ross Haffey and Jon Reschke.

Defensively, all-county returnee, senior Chris Wilberding, will lead the way, along with junior Andrew Roye and sophomore Bobby Cross. Wilberding is a three-year starter and a co-captain (with MacEachern and Ebbing). Also helping to shore up the defense are juniors Hunter Clark and Connor Duncan.

Sophomore Jack Bowman has amassed a 4-2 record in goal for the Warriors.

The Warriors lost 16 players off last year’s state-runnerup squad and return just six this year. Schmidt said being ranked No. 1 is flattering, but he knows his team has a long way to go to get back into a position to play for a state championship.

“There are many quality teams in Division 2 this year,” the coach said. “So we hope to stay healthy, and with a little luck, we can make it back to Compuware in March.”  

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