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.
Kalamazoo Central and Mattawan were the victors in Monday’s District 1 first round volleyball matches at K-Central, advancing to semifinal matches Wednesday. The Maroon Giants grabbed their first postseason victory since 2013, beating Portage Central 25-23, 25-23, 27-25. The Wildcats bested Portage Northern 25-22, 25-21, 25-11.
KC and PC was tight throughout, with all three sets ending up tied at 23-23. The Maroon Giants didn’t lead by two in the first set until the 25th point. Kalamazoo Central got up by five early in the second, but found themselves down 20-18 before rallying back. The Mustangs started up four in the third, followed by a three-point Giant lead midway through, before turning into a back-and-forth affair to the end.
Unofficially, Peri Herder topped Kalamazoo Central with nine kills, including the final one. Regina Wolf added eight kills and five blocks, getting her team to 33-15-1 on the season. Ryann Jaqua had 16 kills for PC, followed by 14 from Mackenzie Lundin. Portage Central finishes 28-16 and graduates seniors Maddie Wojcik, Emma Kite, Jessie Zesiger, Kenzie Zook, and Allison Sturgeon.
Mattawan and Portage Northern stayed very even in the first set with neither team taking a multi-point lead until the Wildcats did at the end. The Huskies led for the first part of the second set, but a 7-0 run off the service of Alli Wiese pushed Mattawan ahead and the Wildcats remained in control the rest of the way.
Unofficially, Madison Dorff tallied seven kills and three aces for Mattawan with Kathryn Puzevic also getting seven kills, moving them to 37-7 overall. Emily Lewis led Portage Northern in her final match with 13 kills, followed by 9 from fellow senior Hannah Biddlecome. The Huskies finish 28-23 and also graduate Kaylee Peterson, Ella Lewis, Corinne McCarthy and Cecilia Pirchio.
Mattawan will meet Lakeshore (6-25-1) in Wednesday’s semifinal at 5:30 p.m., followed Kalamazoo Central against St. Joseph (16-26-0) around 7. The winners Wednesday play for the District 1 championship Thursday at 6 p.m. and you can hear the District final on the Slocum Sports Network. All matches are at Kalamazoo Central.
Listen back to Monday’s contests below:
KALAMAZOO CENTRAL VS PORTAGE CENTRAL
MATTAWAN VS PORTAGE NORTHERN
Listen live online Monday evening on the Slocum Sports Network to the first round District #1 volleyball matches from Kalamazoo Central High School. The first match, set for 5:30 p.m., features the Mattawan Wildcats against the Portage Northern Huskies. The match to follow has the hosting Kalamazoo Central Maroon Giants and Portage Central Mustangs. All four SMAC members enter with winning records and strong programs.
Mattawan enters as the favorite coming off Saturday’s SMAC tournament championship, defeating Portage Central in the final match. At 33-7 according to Maxpreps, the Wildcats received a honorable mention in last week’s Class A Coaches Association poll and have been in the top ten at other points in the season. Mattawan was eliminated by Portage Central in last season’s district tournament. Two seasons ago, the Wildcats made it to the quarterfinal for the first time in program history.
Portage Northern entered last weekend at 26-21 and has significantly improved from their recent down seasons. The Huskies are looking for their first postseason victory since 2010. They were knocked out in last year’s district tournament by Portage Central. The last Portage Northern district championship came in 2007, with a trip to the quarterfinal that season. The Huskies were once a Class A powerhouse, winning 10 state championships in the 1980s and 90s.
Portage Central entered last weekend at 26-14 and is the defending district champion, getting as far the quarterfinal last season where they fell to Class A runner-up Rockford in five sets. The Mustang senior class is looking to claim their third district title in their four seasons. The school’s deepest run was a runner-up finish in 2009.
Kalamazoo Central took a 30-13-1 mark into the weekend and were knocked out by Niles in last season’s district tournament. Their last postseason victory came in 2013 with their most recent district championship in 2002. The Maroon Giants’ deepest run was a state title in 1996.
Monday’s winners move to Wednesday’s district semifinals. The Mattawan/Portage Northern winner plays Lakeshore (4-23-1) at 5:30 p.m. with the Portage Central/Kalamazoo Central winner meeting St. Joseph (15-23-0) in the following match. The district championship is Thursday at 6 p.m. with all of the matches at Kalamazoo Central.
You can listen to Monday’s first round matches, as well as Thursday’s district championship, live online via the Slocum Sports Network. The action begins Monday at 5:30 p.m. between Mattawan and Portage Northern with the Portage Central and Kalamazoo Central match to follow. The bracket can be found here via MHSAA.
The beautiful game was played in ugly conditions Tuesday as the fourth-ranked Portage Central Mustangs and Brighton Bulldogs battled in the Regional semifinal round. Fortunately, the new turf field of Portage Northern held firm through the constant downpour and Portage Central outlasted mid 40s temperatures, strong wind, and the Bulldogs for a 1-0 overtime victory.
The first half was pretty even with both squads limiting opportunities at the net. Portage Central started to control the possession more firmly in the second half, but still couldn’t score through 80 minutes of play. About two minutes into overtime, the Mustangs got a free kick about 45 yards from the net. Gunnar Fredericks put it to the near post and Michael Ketteman was there with the header with 7:43 remaining in the first overtime.
Brighton had one last hope on a free kick about 30 yards away with 10 seconds remaining in the second overtime, but Mustang goalkeeper Nick Kuppler snagged it and secured the clean sheet and victory.
Brighton finishes the season at 12-6-3. Portage Central improves to 18-2-3 and advances to the Regional final against East Kentwood, the defending Division 1 state champion. The Falcons defeated Grand Haven 2-0 in Tuesday’s other match. The final is set for 6 p.m Friday evening from Portage Northern.
Listen back to Tuesday’s game below:
The Portage Central Mustangs and Okemos Chiefs advanced to the District 3 boys soccer championship game Saturday with victories Thursday evening at Lakeview High School. The Mustangs defeated crosstown rival Portage Northern 2-0, giving them three wins this season over the Huskies. The Chiefs used a big first half to grab a 5-3 victory over Kalamazoo Central.
The Mustangs and Huskies stayed even early in a rematch of last week’s 1-0 SMAC Championship game. In the 28th minute, Nolan Jaros sent it ahead from midfield and Minh Le put it in the net for a 1-0 Mustang lead at half.
Although PC had the edge in possession time, the Huskies had their chances, forcing Mustang goalkeeper Nick Kuppler to unofficially tally nine saves. With 7:01 left in the match, Michael Ketteman broke away and delivered the final blow. The fourth-ranked Mustangs move to 16-2-3 with the Huskies finishing the year at 12-8-3.
In the other semifinal, Okemos took a 5-0 lead into halftime against Kalamazoo Central. A penalty kick goal in the fifth minute by John-Luca Migaldi started the scoring. Alejandro Arana scored in the 14th minute, Ty Usiak in the 30th, Ben Derby in the 36th, and Jacob Mead in the 38th.
The Maroon Giants tried to rally late, with Paulo Alcala scoring thrice, the first coming in the 61st minute. He scored again with 2:47 remaining, followed by one more 33 seconds later, but the hole was too deep to get out of. Kalamazoo Central finishes at 10-7-3 with Okemos improving to 12-3-4.
Portage Central and Okemos play for the District 3 championship Saturday at noon from Lakeview High School in Battle Creek. They met in last year’s district semifinal, won by Okemos 3-0, who went on to claim the district over Portage Northern.
Listen back to Thursday’s games below:
PORTAGE CENTRAL VS PORTAGE NORTHERN
OKEMOS VS KALAMAZOO CENTRAL
Listen live online Thursday on the Slocum Sports Network to the District 3 boys soccer semifinals from Lakeview High School in Battle Creek. Up first at 5 p.m., the Kalamazoo Central Maroon Giants face the Okemos Chiefs. Following around 7 p.m. is a rematch of the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference (SMAC) championship between Portage Central and Portage Northern.
Kalamazoo Central sits at 10-6-3 following their 3-0 first round victory over Loy Norrix. The Maroon Giants finished third in the SMAC regular season standings and has a win over Portage Central, although they fell twice to Portage Northern. K-Central was eliminated by Portage Central in last season’s district tournament. The last time the Maroon Giants made it to the regional round was 2001.
Okemos (record currently unavailable) is the defending district champion, defeating Loy Norrix, Portage Central, and Portage Northern last season. They fell in the Regional semifinal to eventual state champion East Kentwood. The Chiefs shocked Jackson Monday, winning 2-0 on the road against a Viking team that was ranked 11th and had 17 wins on the season.
Portage Central is ranked fourth in the final Division 1 Coaches Association poll at 15-2-3. The Mustangs were taken to the brink in their opener at Holt, winning 5-4 in penalty kicks following 100 minutes of scoreless soccer. Portage Central earned the SMAC Championship last week 1-0 over Portage Northern, their second victory this season against the Huskies. Their earlier meeting in the Portage Derby game was a 3-1 Mustang victory. PC’s last district crown came in 2012.
Portage Northern sits at 12-7-3, having defeated district host Lakeview 3-1 in their first round match. They won the District 3 final over Okemos in 2015 and made it as far the Regional final that season. The Huskies took second in the SMAC standings this year behind their crosstown rival.
Listen live to both matches online Thursday via the Slocum Sports Network. Kalamazoo Central and Okemos is set for 5 p.m. with Portage Central and Portage Northern to follow from Lakeview High School.
For the first time since 2014, the Portage Central Mustangs are SMAC soccer champions. The Mustangs hosted and defeated Portage Northern 1-0 Tuesday, keeping the Huskies from getting their third consecutive SMAC title. The game’s lone goal came 3:40 into the match as Nolan Jaros perfectly fed Elliot Greathouse for the score.
The Mustangs held possession for the majority of the game and gave the Huskies very few opportunities. The clean sheet for Nick Kuppler gives the fourth-ranked Mustangs nine shutouts on the season. It’s also the second win of the season for Portage Central over Portage Northern, as the Mustangs earned a 3-1 win last month.
The win pushes the Mustangs to 14-2-3 overall and drops the Huskies to 11-7-3. They may meet for a third time next week, as they both compete in District 3. Portage Central opens the postseason next Tuesday at Holt, while Portage Northern travels to Lakeview. If both win, they would meet in the district semifinal next Thursday at Lakeview. You can listen to both District 3 semifinals next week on the Slocum Sports Network.
Listen back to Tuesday’s match below:
Listen live online Tuesday on the Slocum Sports Network as the Portage Central Mustangs host the Portage Northern Huskies for the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference (SMAC) soccer championship. It’s a rematch of last year’s league final, won by the Huskies 5-0. Northern is looking for their third consecutive SMAC title, as they also won in penalty kicks over Mattawan in 2015. Portage Central last won the tournament in 2014, also over Mattawan.
Portage Central finished this season at the top of the regular season SMAC standings at 7-1-2. They got a 3-1 win over Portage Northern in the Portage Derby game, the first Mustang win over the Huskies since 2014. Ranked fourth in the newest Division 1 Coaches Association poll, the Mustangs are 13-2-3 overall. They defeated Lakeshore 2-1 in penalty kicks in Thursday’s SMAC semifinal.
Portage Northern finished second in the SMAC standings at 7-2-1. At 11-6-3 overall, the Huskies won 2-0 in their semifinal against Kalamazoo Central.
Listen live online to Tuesday’s championship match on the Slocum Sports Network with kickoff around 6:30 p.m. from Portage Central High School.
For the sixth consecutive season and the 12th time in the last 13 years, the Portage Central Mustangs will play in the football postseason. The Mustangs secured a spot Friday with a 28-3 win over Portage Northern in the crosstown rivals’ final meeting at McCamley Field.
The Mustangs started with the ball and punted after about a six minute drive. They got it right back, as a Husky inadvertently touched the ball on the punt, leading to a recovery by Central’s Zeb Cornwell at the Northern 28. Seven plays later, Eli Potts had a one-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 Mustang lead.
The first Husky drive got into field goal range thanks to a long reception to running back Noah Hecht. Cameron Adams made a 38-yard field goal with 10:34 remaining in the second for what would be Northern’s only points. After trading punts, Portage Central had a 74-yard scoring drive, capped off by a six-yard Potts run with 2:13 remaining for a 14-3 halftime score.
Portage Northern started with the ball in the third and on the first play, threw an interception to safety Grayson Plew off a bobble. The Mustangs needed four plays to travel 39 yards for the score, coming on a 15-yard run from sophomore back Ben Cunningham.
A botched snap led to another giveaway on the next Portage Northern drive. Central quickly punted and gave the Huskies the ball at midfield. However, four plays couldn’t net a first down for Northern. Late in the third, the Mustangs scored their final touchdown on a 34-yard pass from Carson Hodge to Kyle Dotson. The Huskies had another turnover on downs, followed by Central running out the final seven minutes.
Unofficially, Hodge was 3-4 passing for 85 yards and one touchdown, also rushing for 48 yards. Eli Potts had 90 rush yards on 20 carries. Northern QB Tyler Helgeson was 6-15 for 89 yards and one interception. Tyler Amos led the team with 71 yards, 64 of which came on one play. The rest of their rushers combined for zero total yards on 14 tries.
Portage Central locks up a playoff spot at 6-1 following the win. They travel to Kalamazoo Central in week eight, then finish at home with St. Joseph. Portage Northern drops to 2-5, ending their playoff aspirations. They host Mattawan in week eight, followed by a trip to DeWitt in week nine.
Listen back to Friday’s game below:
Listen live online Friday on the Slocum Sports Network as Portage Central hosts Portage Northern for week seven of the high school football season. In a spring poll from Addix Gear, this football rivalry was voted as the best in all of Michigan. Barring a postseason rematch, this will be the final time these teams will meet at McCamley Field.
Portage Central enters the game at 5-1 with wins over Mattawan (27-14), Battle Creek Central (26-14), Traverse City Central (49-34), Lakeview (31-0), and Niles (42-14). Their only loss came in week three to unbeaten Lakeshore, 24-7. If the Mustangs top the Huskies, they would secure a playoff berth for the sixth consecutive year and for the 11th time in the last 12 years.
Portage Northern sits at 2-4 overall and must win their final three games to have a chance at getting a postseason spot via playoff points (they made it in at 5-4 last season). The Huskies started 0-3 with defeats to Lakeview (28-14), Gull Lake (10-9), and St. Joseph (20-15). They bounced back with wins over Niles (22-19) and Kalamazoo Central (21-6), followed by a heartbreaking double overtime loss last week to Lakeshore (30-27).
According to Michigan-Football.com, these schools have met 57 times since Portage Northern opened in 1965. The Mustangs lead the all-time series 37-20 and won twice over the Huskies last season, 56-27 in the regular season and 21-14 in the Pre-District round. Over the last ten years, Portage Central has won 12 of 14 meetings with Portage Northern.