The Southwest Michigan Blades defeated Kalamazoo United 4-1 and the Kalamazoo Eagles won 5-4 in overtime over Portage Central in Wednesday evening’s SWMHSHL action at Wings West. The win in the first game left the Blades as the only team unbeaten within league play, with the second game leaving the Mustangs as the lone team without a league win.
The Blades dominated the shots on goal column all game, but entered the first intermission behind 1-0. Jake Gerhard turned away 22 shots in the first for the Hams and Garrett Warner put United ahead with an unassisted goal with 1:54 left.
Midway through the second period, the Blades scored twice within in a minute. The first came from Parker Lawrence, who took advantage as a defender tripped over a fallen stick. The second one came via Jett Haifley for the 2-1 lead after two. The Blades took a 3-1 lead on an unassisted shorthanded goal from Chris Bigelow with 11:05 remaining, then added the final dagger on a 4-on-4 goal by Jaxon Dobrolowski with 4:09 to go.
Blades goalie Zac Hattan had 20 saves in the victory with United’s Gerhard stopping 48 shots. The Blades stand alone at the top of the SWMHSHL standings at 3-0-0 following to win, overall they’re 9-4-0. It was their first win over United since February 2015. United drops to 1-4-0 on the loss and 1-1-0 against league foes.
The Blades are back in action Sunday at the LSJ Warriors, then meet the Eagles next Wednesday at Wings West. United travels to Troy Saturday, then returns home next Wednesday against Portage Northern.
The Eagles never trailed in their game, getting the lead in the first three minutes on a Jimmy Wressel goal. Carter Maxey scored in the final two minutes to put the Eagles up 2-0 at the break. Portage Central grabbed the only goal of the second period with Canyon Morse’s 4-on-4 strike putting the Mustangs back within one entering the third.
With 11:33 left in regulation, Danny Keene pushed the Eagle lead back to two goals. Shortly after, Keene was ejected, along with PC starting forwards Erek Decker and Mitchell Ely for a fracas just before the 10 minute mark.
The score stayed at 3-1 until the Mustangs took advantage of a kneeing major against Wressel. Konnor McLeod’s powerplay goal put Portage Central down one with 3:23 remaining. Although still down a man, the Eagles seemingly had the final dagger on a Maxey empty net goal with 1:27 remaining. Only 13 seconds later, Morse matched it to put the Mustangs back within one. With 27 seconds left, McLeod was able to tie the game.
However, Portage Central couldn’t complete the comeback. 1:54 into overtime, Maxey earned the hat-trick and the victory.
Eagle goalie Drake Witt had 38 saves in the victory, PC’s Bryan Gracey stopped 26. The Eagles jump to 2-5-0 overall and 1-3-0 in SWMHSHL play. It was the first Eagle win over PC since February 2014. Portage Central falls to 1-5-0 overall and 0-3-0 in the league. The Mustangs travel to Grand Haven Saturday with the Eagles heading north to Cheboygan against Utica Friday and Lakeland Saturday.
Listen back to Wednesday’s games below:
BLADES VS UNITED – BOX SCORE.
EAGLES VS MUSTANGS – BOX SCORE.
Listen live online Wednesday on the Slocum Sports Network to a high school hockey doubleheader from Wings West. Up first at 5:30 p.m., the Blades of Southwest Michigan play Kalamazoo United. Around 7:45 p.m., the Portage Central Mustangs face the Kalamazoo Eagles.
The Blades and United are the only unbeaten teams remaining within SWMHSHL play. The Blades are 2-0-0 with a 3-1 win over Portage Central and a 4-3 victory over Mattawan. United’s lone league game was a 4-1 victory against the Eagles.
Overall, the Blades are 8-4-0 with a 1-3 mark over the weekend at the Cornfield Cup tournament in Culver, Indiana. United is 1-3-0 overall, falling 10-3 at Northview Saturday. United won both meetings against the Blades last season, 6-1 and 5-4. The last Blade win over United was in the SWMHSHL tournament in February 2015.
In the second game, both the Eagles and Mustangs are trying to get their first SWMHSHL win. The Eagles are 1-5-0 overall and 0-3-0 in league play, while Portage Central is 1-4-0 overall and 0-2-0 in the SWMHSHL. Both teams got their lone win to date over Kenowa Hills. Portage Central won both meetings over the Eagles last season, 6-4 and 4-1. The Mustangs have won their last seven games over the Eagles, with the last Eagle win coming in February 2014.
Saturday afternoon had teams from the SWMHSHL facing the OK Conference at Wings West, with both leagues getting a win. Portage Central defeated Kenowa Hills 6-2 for their first win of the season. Grand Haven bested Kalamazoo United 4-1 to get above the .500 mark.
Portage Central scored the first two goals of their game midway through the first period, first from Jaden Sorenson, then shorthanded by Skyler Sorenson. Michal Boor put the Knights on the board before the end of the first. PC then won the second period 3-0 off goals by Skyler Sorenson (powerplay), Konnor McLeod (shorthanded), and Canyon Morse.
The Mustangs added one more from McLeod on a powerplay in the third with Kenowa Hills getting their second score from Brendan Deneen. Things got heated in the final two minutes with fighting breaking out, leading to three ejected players for both teams. Unofficially, Portage Central goalie Gannon Miller made 23 saves. Kenowa Hills’ Derek Smith had 29. The Mustangs improve to 1-2-0 and Kenowa Hills drops to 0-5-0.
The other game was scoreless after the first period, despite Grand Haven winning the shots on goal battle 16-4. Kalamazoo United drew multiple penalties in the second period and the Buccaneers made them pay, getting two powerplay goals by Branden Beeler and one from Jake Johnson. Beeler added an even-strength goal late in the second to put Grand Haven up 4-0. United’s Matthew Romano got his team’s lone goal in the third.
Unofficially, United goalkeeper Jake Gerhard had 46 saves in the loss. Grand Haven’s Finn Bylsma had 17. The Buccaneers improve to 3-2-1 overall and Kalamazoo United falls to 1-2-0.
United’s next game is Saturday at Northview. Grand Haven neets Hudsonville at home on Friday, December 15. Kenowa Hills hosts Jenison Wednesday. Portage Central battles Detroit Country Day Saturday at Lawson Arena.
Listen back to Saturday’s games below:
UNITED VS GRAND HAVEN
PORTAGE CENTRAL VS KENOWA HILLS
Listen live online Saturday afternoon on the Slocum Sports Network to a high school hockey doubleheader at Wings West. Game one at 2:15 p.m. features Kalamazoo United against Grand Haven, followed by game two around 4:30 p.m. between Portage Central and Kenowa Hills/Fruitport.
Kalamazoo United sits at 1-1-0 overall, getting their first win Wednesday over the Kalamazoo Eagles. Grand Haven enters the weekend at 1-2-1 with three of their four games going to overtime and all four decided by one goal. Last December, Kalamazoo United beat Grand Haven 3-1, getting 38 saves from goalie Mitch Kihm.
Portage Central enters the weekend at 0-2-0 with Kenowa Hills/Fruitport at 0-3-1. The Mustangs and Knights did not meet last season. Their last meeting came in January 2015, a 2-1 Kenowa Hills win.
Listen live to both games online Saturday on the Slocum Sports Network with United/Grand Haven at 2:15 p.m. and Portage Central/Kenowa Hills around 4:30 p.m.
Kalamazoo United and Mattawan picked up SWMHSHL victories Wednesday evening, as United topped the Kalamazoo Eagles and the Wildcats beat Portage Northern, both by finals of 4-1. Both winners saw great goaltending as United’s Jake Gerhard made 44 saves and Mattawan’s Shaffer Moore tallied 34.
In the first game, Kalamazoo United’s Brenden Warner scored the opening goal with 10:28 remaining on the first. The Eagles seemed to have a big opportunity midway through the second off a major penalty against United, but the Hams picked up a shorthanded goal by Garrett Warner. The Eagles committed a major of their own late in the second and found themselves in a 5-on-3 situation, which United’s Topher Strunk used for a powerplay goal and a 3-0 lead entering the second intermission.
The Eagles scored their goal with 14:29 left thanks to Carter Maxey, but couldn’t beat Gerhard again, despite 20 shots on goal in the third period. Brenden Warner tallied an empty net goal for the 4-1 final, giving him a three point night off two goals and one assist. Eagle goalie Huston Born had 24 saves. United’s win gives them a 1-0-0 start to league play and puts them at 1-1-0 overall. The Eagles fall to 1-3-0 overall and 0-2-0 within the SWMHSHL.
In the second game, Mattawan’s Jason Moreau scored with 13:27 to go in the first period. The 1-0 score held until Moreau struck again early in the second. With 4:59 remaining in the second, Niko Stamas grabbed a Mattawan powerplay goal. In the final minute, Jake Kruzich added a shorthanded goal for a 4-0 Wildcat lead. Portage Northern’s lone score came early in the third period on a powerplay from Will Todd.
Kruzich finished with a three point night on his goal and assists on both Moreau goals. Husky goalie Peter Todd had 22 saves. Mattawan is 2-0-0 in league play and 2-1-1 overall, Portage Northern drops to 0-1-0 in league action and 1-4-0 overall.
Mattawan hosts West Ottawa Friday at Wings West, then travels Saturday against St. Joseph/Lakeshore. Portage Northern heads to Jackson Saturday night. The Kalamazoo Eagles make the trip to Northview Saturday. Kalamazoo United hosts Grand Haven Saturday afternoon.
Listen back to Wednesday’s games below:
UNITED VS EAGLES – Box Score
MATTAWAN VS PORTAGE NORTHERN – Box Score
Listen live online Wednesday on the Slocum Sports Network to a high school hockey doubleheader from Wings West. Game one at 5:30 p.m. features Kalamazoo United against the Kalamazoo Eagles. Game two around 7:45 p.m. has the Mattawan Wildcats versus the Portage Northern Huskies.
Wednesday will be the first Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League (SWMHSHL) game for Kalamazoo United, as they look to defend their regular season and tournament championship from last season. It will be United’s second overall match, as they fell 4-2 in their opener at Canton on November 18.
Meanwhile, the Eagles lost their SWMHSHL opener last Wednesday 4-0 against Mattawan. They’re still searching for their first win as well, sitting at 0-2-1 overall. United’s lone league loss last season came to the Eagles, as they split their 16-17 meetings. The Eagles won 4-3 on January 18, with United victorious 9-2 on December 14.
Like United, Portage Northern plays their first league game Wednesday. They’re 1-3-0 thus far, with their most recent game Saturday in a 5-4 loss to Grand Haven. Mattawan won their league opener last week against the Eagles. It was their first overall win as well, with the Wildcats at 1-1-1.
Mattawan beat the Huskies twice last season, 3-1 on January 14 and 9-6 on December 7. They split their meetings two seasons ago, with the last Portage Northern win on January 27, 2016.
Listen live to Wednesday’s doubleheader online on the Slocum Sports Network. Kalamazoo United meets the Kalamazoo Eagles at 5:30 p.m., followed by Mattawan versus Portage Northern around 7:45 p.m.
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.
Listen live Friday online at MichiganSportsRadio.com to a Division 5 District football final as the West Catholic Falcons host the Kalamazoo United Titans in Grand Rapids. It will be the first ever football meeting between West Catholic and the United co-op or either of its schools.
Both teams enter the contest at 8-2 on the season. Kalamazoo United has had a flair for the dramatic recently as their last five games have been decided by a combined 12 points. The Titans got the first playoff win in the Hackett Catholic/Kalamazoo Christian co-op’s four-year history last week, defeating Dowagiac 21-18. United is averaging 34 points per game and allowing 27.2 per game and have been highlighted by an electric passing offense. Junior quarterback Eric Wenzel has tossed 35 touchdowns on the season.
The Titans will meet a juggernaut in West Catholic, winners of the last four Division 5 state championships and five of the last seven. Although beaten twice this season, their losses came 27-24 to Lumen Christi (defending Division 6 champion) and 35-33 to Grand Rapids Catholic Central (defending Division 4 champion). Averaging 40.8 points per game and 16 allowed per contest, the Falcons ran through Berrien Springs 43-13 in their playoff opener.
Listen live to Friday’s contest at MichiganSportsRadio.com with kickoff set for 7 p.m. and pregame at 6:40 p.m. from West Catholic.
For the fourth consecutive week, the Kalamazoo United football team’s game was decided by three points or fewer. The Titans kicked a 38-yard Heath Baldwin field goal through the uprights with 0.3 seconds remaining to secure a 31-28 road victory over the Schoolcraft Eagles. The victory gives the co-op its highest ever win total with a 7-2 regular season mark. Schoolcraft falls to 5-4 and has to hope they have enough playoff points to sneak into the playoff field and extend their postseason streak to nine seasons.
The Titans started strong, scoring not even two minutes into the game with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Eric Wenzel to Baldwin. Schoolcraft made it to the ten-yard line on their opening drive, but fumbled the ball on a quarterback keeper from Brady Flynn. Titan running back Brenden Warner bolted 83 yards, then Wenzel hit Christian Bartholomew for a seven-yard score and a 14-0 United lead.
Schoolcraft’s second drive found the end zone with a 38-yard rush from fullback Jack Hunt. The Eagles forced a quick punt and scored in the final minute of the first quarter on a 4-yard Hunt run to even the game at 14. The Titans made it back to the red zone, but Baldwin missed a 30-yard field goal. Schoolcraft engineered a 10-run, 80-yard drive and took the lead for the first time with a three-yard Hunt run. United would punt twice more before halftime with Schoolcraft punting and throwing an interception to Aaron Verkaik, keeping the Eagles up 21-14 at the break.
Schoolcraft punted to start the third quarter and Bartholomew had a stellar return, placing the Titans inside the 20. Wenzel threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Warner (although he had retreated all the way back to the 25 to fling it), tying the game midway through the third quarter at 21.
After trading punts into the fourth quarter, Wenzel was intercepted at midfield by Mark Melching, who brought the ball all the way to the five-yard line for Schoolcraft. Three plays later, Kobe Clark was in the end zone on a three-yard rush and Schoolcraft had a 28-21 lead with 6:15 left in the game.
United had no choice but punting after taking a big sack on their next drive, giving Schoolcraft the ball with the lead and under five minutes remaining. The Titans were able to force a turnover on downs, barely making a stop on a fourth and inches at the Titan 29-yard line with 2:36 remaining. After struggling to pass in the second half, the Titans used a 59-yard Warner rushing touchdown to even the game with 1:42 left.
The Eagles made it past midfield and were closing in on field goal range in the final minute, but a running back pass attempt by Kobe Clark was intercepted by Bartholomew, giving United the ball with 44 seconds left at their own 32. A 28-yard reception in traffic by Baldwin pushed the Titans to the Eagle 21 with 19 seconds remaining. A spike and two incompletions left a fourth down and 10 with 6.5 seconds to go.
The kicking team took the field with fireworks visible beyond the goalposts from nearby McCamley Field at Portage Central. The snap and hold were solid and Baldwin booted it through from 38 yards out for the 31-28 win.
Unofficially, Brenden Warner rushed for 285 yards on 23 carries with a rushing and receiving touchdown. Eric Wenzel was 17-35 for 190 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Heath Baldwin had 102 receiving yards off six catches and a touchdown.
Schoolcraft tallied 351 rushing yards. Jack Hunt had 202 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries. Kobe Clark added 132 rushing on 17 tries with one score. Brady Flynn and Clark were a combined 0-5 passing with two interceptions.
Schoolcraft and United are now 1-1 against each other, as the Eagles had won the previous meeting in 2014. Schoolcraft had dominated Hackett Catholic and Kalamazoo Christian prior to the co-op’s forming, going a combined 16-1 against the two schools.
Kalamazoo United will be in the postseason for the second time in the co-op’s four-year history next weekend and has a decent chance to host their game thanks to Friday’s win. Schoolcraft must wait until Sunday’s selection show to see if they sneak into the field at 5-4. Listen back to week nine’s game below:
Listen live online Friday night on the Slocum Sports Network as the Schoolcraft Eagles host the Kalamazoo United Titans for the final week of the high school football regular season. At 5-3, Schoolcraft must win to guarantee their ninth consecutive postseason appearance. With a loss, their only hope would be taking one of the final spots at 5-4 based on playoff points.
At 6-2, United will be a playoff team for the second time in the co-op’s four-year history. However, a win over Schoolcraft could be the difference between hosting or traveling for their first round game. The last three United games were decided by a combined six points, with wins over Constantine (32-30) and Coloma (28-27), along with a loss to Delton Kellogg (35-32).
Schoolcraft dropped their last two games, 36-14 to Watervliet and 32-7 at Coloma. Despite strong rivalries with Hackett Catholic and Kalamazoo Christian in other sports, this will be the first football meeting between Schoolcraft and the United co-op as members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SAC). They last met in United’s first season as Kalamazoo Valley Association members in 2014, a 28-7 Schoolcraft win. Historically, Schoolcraft is a perfect 11-0 against Hackett and 5-1 against Kalamazoo Christian, the lone defeat in 2008.
Listen live online to Friday’s game on the Slocum Sports Network with kickoff set for 7 p.m. from Schoolcraft High School.