The postseason began and ended Monday evening at Wings West for Kalamazoo United, as they fell 7-2 to Lowell/Caledonia in the MHSAA Division 1 Pre-Regional 5 semifinals. It avenges last year’s 7-6 Pre-Regional loss for L/C, who moves to 14-10-1. United finishes at 21-4-1, a disappointing end to the strongest season in program history.
Lowell/Caledonia grabbed the momentum right away, as Nick Vantil tallied the opening goal less than three minutes into the game. L/C added a shorthanded goal midway through the first by Alex Osborn to carry a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. United fought back, as Brenden Warner scored on the powerplay only 22 seconds into the second period. Eddie Heikkila matched it though for L/C with 11:59 remaining, but another Warner powerplay goal with 8:25 in the second gave United some hope.
The momentum would shift drastically when Ethan Pinto scored for Lowell/Caledonia with 71 seconds remaining in the second, giving L/C a 4-2 lead into the break. Osborn scored his second goal of the contest only two minutes into the third and L/C controlled the game from there, adding goals late by Nolan Winterburn and Austin Whaley.
Lowell/Caledonia moves to the Pre-Regional 5 final Wednesday at Wings West at 6:30 p.m. against East Kentwood (7-16-2). East Kentwood knocked off Lowell/Caledonia 3-1 in their regular season meeting on December 9.
Listen back to Monday’s broadcast below:
The postseason begins Monday for high school hockey in Michigan with Kalamazoo United hosting Lowell/Caledonia in the MHSAA Pre-Regional 5 semifinal at Wings West in Kalamazoo. These teams met in this round last season in a game that United won 7-6
United finished the regular season at 21-3-1, grabbing their first ever Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League (SWMHSHL) regular season and tournament titles. They’re looking to advance to the regional final for the first time in program history. United has the best winning percentage within the Division 1 field, however, SWMHSHL teams have struggled at the state tournament level in recent years. The last time any league team made it to the final eight was in 2009, when both Portage Central and Mattawan did it.
The Hams also are looking to rebuild their momentum with the start of the postseason. After winning the SWMHSHL final over Mattawan on February 18, United lost its final two regular season games, 7-5 to Northview and 6-3 to Gabriel Richard.
For Lowell/Caledonia, they went 13-10-1, ending with back-to-back losses to Grand Haven and East Grand Rapids. Their last playoff victory came in the first round over United 9-3 in 2014. Like United, L/C hasn’t had much postseason success historically. Interestingly enough though, of the seven teams within Region 3, L/C and United are the only squads with a winning record on the season.
Listen to Monday’s broadcast from Michigan Sports Radio and simulcast through the Slocum Sports Network. Puck drop is set for 6:30 p.m.