The Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League (SWMHSHL) tournament final is set for Saturday at 6:30 p.m., following Wednesday’s semifinal games at Wings West. In the first game, top-seed Kalamazoo United flattened fourth-seeded Portage Central 8-0, followed by a 5-0 win for second-seed Mattawan over the third-seeded Blades of Southwest Michigan.
The first game remained scoreless until four minutes remained in the first period, as Noel Cavey scored for United on an assist from Hunter Taplin. About two minutes later, they did it again, this time on a powerplay, for a 2-0 lead at the first break. Cavey then tallied his third and fourth goals of the game in the second period, followed by scores from Garrett Warner, Topher Strunk, and Tony Schirripa (his first ever varsity goal) for a 7-0 score after two.
It took 11 seconds for United to get the mercy rule win, as Cavey scored his fifth goal of the game and 35th of the season. Taplin finished with five assists, getting his team to 20-1-1 overall. United gets their third win over the Mustangs this season, their second straight 8-0 win, and avenges a tournament semifinal loss from last season. Portage Central drops to 8-15-1 overall.
In the second game, Mattawan jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the first break. Ben Berkowitz scored first with 13:39 remaining, followed by a Jeff Kirkendall score with 8:42 remaining and a Nate Roberts goal with 1:11 to go. The Blades had a golden opportunity on a 5-on-3 powerplay early in the second, but could do nothing with it. Shortly after, the Wildcats put in a powerplay goal from Brady Lawrence for a 4-0 lead entering the second break. The final dagger was a shorthanded Jake Kruzich goal in the third for the Wildcats, putting them at 11-10-2 on the year and dropping the Blades to 20-9-2. It continues a winning streak dating back to at least 2012 for Mattawan against the Blades.
Mattawan advances to the tournament final for the fourth time in the past five years, with the Wildcats winning the title each time they made it. They took last season’s title 4-3 against Portage Central. Kalamazoo United beat the Wildcats in both regular season meetings with both games ending up in overtime, 3-2 last Saturday and 5-4 on November 23. Listen to Saturday’s championship game set for 6:30 pm. Saturday on the Slocum Sports Network.
Meanwhile, Wednesday’s losers will play in consolation games Saturday. At 2 p.m., Portage Central faces Portage Northern. At 4:15 p.m., the Blades will meet the Kalamazoo Eagles.
Listen back to the semifinals below:
KALAMAZOO UNITED VS PORTAGE CENTRAL
MATTAWAN VS SWM BLADES