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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

By JASON SCHMITT
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:

1. Novi Detroit Catholic Central

Players come and players go in high school hockey. Novi Detroit Catholic Central coach Todd Johnson is hoping that his team can step up and overcome the loss of Michael Downing, who was drafted third overall in last year’s USHL Future’s Draft. Downing, who would have been a junior this year, will be hard to replace.

But so far, the team has found a way to do just that. The Shamrocks entered the season ranked No. 1 in Division 1 and, so far, have not disappointed. They are a perfect 7-0, with wins over ranked opponents Port Huron Northern (No. 2 in Division 2), St. Mary’s (No. 4 in Division 1) twice, Birmingham Brother Rice (No 1 in Division 2), Warren De La Salle (No. 3 in Division 2), Wyandotte (No. 5 in Division 2) and Grosse Pointe North (No. 9 in Division 1).

Losing Downing was a blow, but Johnson said a revitalized Nolan Gluchowski, who was a second-team all-state selection last year, entered the season on a mission and has delivered.

“He’s always had offensive skills, but this year he’s in elite condition,” Johnson said of Gluchowski, a senior. “He’s going to be a plus-plus player for us, shift in and shift out.”

Junior Nick Daigneau and sophomore Carson Gatt have also provided great play from the blue line, while Johnson’s offense has been paced by a talent-rich group of six forwards. Seniors Pete Halash, Steven Haydon, Tyler VanNorman and Joe Steele, and juniors Charlie Green and Michael Babcock, along with Gluchowski, lead the team in scoring.

Junior goalies Derek Moore (4-0, 1.50 goals-against average) and Ryan Mulka (3-0, 1.00) have allowed just nine goals in Catholic Central’s seven games.

For the complete story go to: http://www.miprepzone.com/oakland/results.asp?ID=6070

Oakland Press Hockey Home Page: http://www.miprepzone.com/oakland/sport.asp?sport=Hockey%20-%20Boys