November marks the beginning of the 2017-18 high school hockey season. This post takes a look at the six teams of the Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League (SWMHSHL), how they fared last year and what lies ahead for this season.
|Kalamazoo United||9-1||21-4-1||Pre-Regional Loss|
|Portage Central||5-5||8-17-1||Pre-Regional Loss|
|Portage Northern||1-9||8-18||Regional Final Loss|
Kalamazoo United had their strongest season in program history in 2016-17, claiming their first ever SWMHSHL regular season and tournament championship. The Hams boasted league co-MVPs Noel Cavey and Jacob Remelius, plus goalie-of-the-year Mitch Kihm. They have graduated along with their other top five point scorers. They do have some solid returners back such as the Warner brothers at forward and Nathan Carr at defense, but United will have to replace a lot of offensive production.
Mattawan loses their top two scoring players in Jeff Kirkendall and Ben Berkowitz, along with SWMHSHL 2nd-team defenseman Nate Roberts. They return their other 2nd-team defenseman in Brad Kolinski, their third-highest scorer Jake Kruzich, goalkeeper Shaffer Moore, and just about everyone else from last season.
The Southwest Michigan Blades made a huge jump last season, going from only two total wins the season before to 22 in 17-18. Notably gone are top scorer Evan Wilson and
defenseman Schuyler DeVries, but the Blades return almost everyone from last season, including 2nd-team goalkeeper Zac Hattan for his sophomore campaign.
Portage Central graduated top scorer Max Mones and 2nd-team defenseman Kobe Vincent among six seniors. Notably back for the Mustangs include their #2 scorer Konnor McLeod for his junior year, along with fellow underclassmen Skyler and Jaden Sorenson.
The Kalamazoo Eagles have a new head coach in Randy Shoemaker. He’s no stranger to the league as a former Eagle assistant coach and Mattawan player. Also gone are 1st-team defenseman David Kiel and other key seniors Blake Jarrett and Mark Andrysiak. Returning playmakers include Jimmy Wressel and Carter Maxey.
Portage Northern has to replace top scorer Eli Cartier, but he is one of only three seniors gone from last season. Their 2018 senior class has a lot of major contributors from last season such as Grant Ernst, Griffin McLeod, and Will Todd. Also of note is goalkeeper Peter Todd, who showed flashes of potential after his trial by fire last year as their lone goalie as a freshman.
The master list of home games and league games for all six teams can be found here. Stay tuned to the Slocum Sports Network for SWMHSHL broadcast throughout the winter.