PREVIEW: SWMHSHL Semifinals Set for Wednesday

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Listen live Wednesday evening on the Slocum Sports Network to the semifinals of the Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League (SWMHSHL) tournament from Wings West.  At 5:30 p.m., the regular season champion and top seed Kalamazoo United faces fourth-seed Portage Central, followed by second-seed Mattawan and the third-seeded Blades of Southwest Michigan at 7:45 p.m.

Coming off their first-ever regular season league title, Kalamazoo United is the favorite at 19-1-1 overall and 9-1 in league play (including a 6-0 mark against the semifinal teams).   United defeated Portage Central in both of their regular season meetings, 4-1 on December 7 and 8-0 on January 25.

The Mustangs and United met in last year’s semifinal round with Portage Central earning a 4-1 win.  They’ve been in the tournament final three consecutive seasons and four of the last five, with two championships in that stretch.   This season, the Mustangs went 5-5 in league play and hold an overall mark of 8-14-1.

The second semifinal features defending tournament champion Mattawan, who won 4-3 over Portage Central in last year’s final.   They’ve also taken three of the last four tournament titles.   This season, the Wildcats went 6-3-1 for second in the league standings and enter the tournament at 10-10-2 overall.  They swept the regular season series over the Blades, 6-1 on December 3 and 6-4 on January 18.

Mattawan has dominated the Blades in recent memory, winning at least the last 15 meetings (the SWMHSHL website only lists back to 2011-12).    The Blades finished 5-5 in league play this season and sit at 20-8-2 overall, a significant improvement from a two-win campaign last season.  It’s their first semifinal appearance since 2013, when they lost 3-0 to Mattawan.    Momentum entering the semifinals favors the Blades, who are 8-1-1 in their last ten games compared to a 1-5-1 mark for Mattawan in their last seven (although, the Wildcats did take United to overtime their last time out).

Listen live to both semifinal games on the Slocum Sports Network with United against Portage Central at 5:30, followed by the Blades and Mattawan at 7:45.   The winners meet at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the championship.   The highest-seeded loser plays the Kalamazoo Eagles Saturday at 4:15 p.m. with the lowest-seeded loser meeting Portage Northern at 2 p.m. Saturday.     All three of those games are also scheduled for broadcast on the Slocum Sports Network.

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