Category Archives: Southwest Michigan Blades

RECAP: Blades Take Top Spot Against United, Eagles Survive Overtime Against Mustangs

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The Blades warm up prior to Wednesday’s victory.

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.

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Carter Maxey (#14) had a hat-trick and the game-winning Eagle goal

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.

PREVIEW: United Plays Blades for Top Spot, Mustangs Meet Eagles

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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.

Listen to both games live online on the Slocum Sports Network with United/Blades at 5:30 p.m. and PC/Eagles around 7:45 p.m.

RECAP: Blades Snap Long Losing Streak to Mattawan with Overtime Winner, Huskies Down Eagles

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Alex Ploehn (#23) scored the overtime goal and the third period tying goal for the Blades

The Blades of Southwest Michigan defeated Mattawan 4-3 in the final minute of overtime and Portage Northern topped the Kalamazoo Eagles 7-5 in Wednesday’s SWMHSHL doubleheader at Wings West.   The Blades’ victory snapped at least a 16-game, six-season losing streak to Mattawan, based on the SWMHSHL website’s scores dating back to the 2011-12 season.    Team captain Alex Ploehn had the game winner on a five-on-three powerplay with 33 seconds remaining.

The Blades scored their first goal within the first two minutes from Parker Lawrence, but Mattawan would respond three minutes later with a Sam Puzevic goal.  Midway through the period, the Blades earned two quick minor penalties, allowing for a Jason Moreau powerplay goal and a 2-1 Wildcat lead.   The score stayed 2-1 through the second period, despite the Blades getting four chances at the powerplay.

With 10:41 remaining in the third period, Mattawan took a 3-1 lead on a Zach Wiggins score.   Less than a minute later, Blaine Shafer matched it for the Blades.   The Wildcats picked up another penalty shortly thereafter and on their fifth powerplay of the game, Ploehn scored with 7:23 to go.

The game went to overtime tied at 3-3.  The penalty bug would bite Mattawan again, picking up a major and minor about a minute apart, giving the Blades a five-on-three for the final part of the extra period.   Once again, the senior team captain from Lakeview Ploehn found the back of the net.

Ploehn finished with three points, also getting an assist.  Mattawan’s Wiggins also had three points with his goal and two assists.  Blade goalie Zac Hattan was credited with 26 saves, Mattawan’s Shaffer Moore had 27.   The Blades improve to 7-1-0 overall and 2-0-0 within SWMHSHL play.  Mattawan falls to 2-4-1 overall and 2-1-0 in the league.

In the other game, the Eagles struck first on a Jimmy Wressel goal only 76 seconds into the game.  Portage Northern’s Will Todd responded just over a minute later to even things.  Griffin McLeod and Quentin Roseboom both found the back of the net to put the Huskies up 3-1 at the first intermission.

Dylan Ruggles made it a three-goal game early in the second, followed by Roseboom’s second goal midway through the frame, this one on the powerplay, for a 5-1 Husky advantage.  However, the Eagles scored thrice in the final 5:10 of the second on goals by Zachary Pernie, Wressel, and Colin Mehren, putting the score at 5-4.

Portage Northern added more cushion with quick third period goals from Grant Ernst and Connor Sorge.    Wressel earned a hat-trick on a powerplay goal with 9:36 remaining, but the Eagles couldn’t get any closer than the 7-5 final.   Connor Sorge had three points, adding two assists to his goal.   Wressel added one assist to his hat-trick, Mehren also had four points with three assists.   Portage Northern improves to 1-1-0 in SWMHSHL play and 2-5-0 overall, the Eagles fall to 0-3-0 in the league and 1-5-0 overall.

The Huskies play Saline Saturday at 2:25 p.m. from Lawson Ice Arena.   The Eagles meet Portage Central next Wednesday at Wings West.   The Blades head to Indiana over the weekend for the Cornfield Cup at the Culver Academies.   Mattawan hosts Detroit Country Day at Wings West Friday.

Listen back to Wednesday’s games here:

BLADES VS MATTAWAN – BOX SCORE

PORTAGE NORTHERN VS EAGLES (PART 1) – BOX SCORE

PART 2

PREVIEW: Portage Northern Plays Kalamazoo Eagles, Mattawan Meets Blades

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Listen live online Wednesday evening on the Slocum Sports Network to a high school hockey doubleheader at Wings West.  Up first at 5:30 p.m. is Portage Northern against the Kalamazoo Eagles, followed by Mattawan and the Blades of Southwest Michigan around 7:45 p.m.

Both the Eagles (0-2-0) and Huskies (0-1-0) are looking for their first win in SWMHSHL play.  The Eagles enter at 1-4-0 overall with Portage Northern at 1-5-0.   They met three times last year with the Huskies winning the most recent game, 4-2 in the conference tournament.   They split their regular season matches with a 5-4 Husky overtime win and a 5-2 Eagle win.

In game two, neither Mattawan (2-0-0) or the Blades (1-0-0) have been defeated by a league foe.    The Wildcats are 2-3-1 overall with the Blades at 6-1-0 thus far.   Mattawan won their tournament semifinal game last year over the Blades 5-0, plus got 6-4 and 6-1 regular season wins.   Mattawan has won at least 16 consecutive meetings over the Blades, according to the SWMHSHL’s scores listed back to the 2011-12 season.

Listen live to both games Wednesday online on the Slocum Sports Network with Portage Northern/Eagles at 5:30 p.m. and Mattawan/Blades around 7:45 p.m.

RECAP: Mattawan, SWM Blades Open League Play with Wins

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Mattawan prepares to hit the ice.  Brad Kolinski (#8) and Niko Stamas (#9) both had goals Wednesday.  Shaffer Moore (#1) had a shutout in net. 

The Mattawan Wildcats and Blades of Southwest Michigan saw victories on Thanksgiving Eve, as Mattawan shutout the Kalamazoo Eagles 4-0 and the Blades downed Portage Central 3-1.   For all four teams, it was the first action of the season within the Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League (SWMHSHL).

In game one, Mattawan controlled the possession and tempo throughout the entire contest, finishing with 42 shots on goal and allowing only 15.   The first three goals came within the first six minutes of action, scored by Zach Swintz, Niko Stamas, and Brad Kolinski.   The score held at 3-0 until Zach Wiggins’ goal midway through the third period.

Shaffer Moore earned his first shutout of the season for the Wildcats, giving them their first overall win of the campaign with a 1-1-1 record.  The Eagles fall to 1-2-0 on the loss.

In the second game, the Blades scored on a blue-line slap shot from Vicksburg sophomore Austin Zeigler 90 seconds into the match.   The game remained 1-0 until Cole Shafer’s Blade goal with 8:15 remaining in the third.   Portage Central finally got by Blade goalie Zac Hattan with 4:05 to go on a Mitchell Ely goal, but a Zac Gothard empty netter in the final minute secured the Blade victory.

Hattan made 22 saves, PC’s Bryan Gracey stopped 33 shots.  Jaxon Dobrolowski had assists on the first two Blade goals, helping get them to 3-0-0 overall thus far.  The Mustangs sit at 0-2-0.

Portage Central is off until Saturday, December 2 at home against Kenowa Hills.   The Blades return to action this Saturday at home versus Royal Oak.  Mattawan’s next contest is next Wednesday against league foe Portage Northern.  The Eagles join Mattawan in the doubleheader Wednesday as they face Kalamazoo United.

Listen back to Wednesday’s games below:

MATTAWAN VS EAGLES

BLADES VS PORTAGE CENTRAL

PREVIEW: First SWMHSHL Conference Games Set for Wednesday

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Listen live online Wednesday on the Slocum Sports Network to a doubleheader from the Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League (SWMHSHL).  Game one, set for 5:30 p.m., features the Mattawan Wildcats against the Kalamazoo Eagles.   The second game around 7:45 p.m. has the Portage Central Mustangs against the Blades of Southwest Michigan.  It’s the first league play of the 2017-18 campaign.

All four teams opened their regular season last week against non-league opponents.  Mattawan sits at 0-1-1 with a 2-1 loss Friday at Grand Rapids West Catholic and a 2-2 draw Saturday against Grand Haven.   The Eagles are 1-1-0 with a 8-6 Wednesday win over Kenowa Hills and a 8-3 loss Saturday to Jenison.    Last November, Mattawan beat the Eagles 6-1.  Their January rematch was a 7-7 draw.   The last Eagle win over the Wildcats was December 10, 2014.

Both Portage Central and the Blades faced Notre Dame Prep over the weekend.  The Mustangs fell 5-3 Saturday, whereas the Blades had a dominant 8-0 win Friday.   The Blades also grabbed a 8-2 win over West Catholic Saturday.   The Blades won both meetings with Portage Central last season, 5-3 and 2-1.   The Mustangs claimed both matchups over the Blades two seasons ago.

Listen live to Wednesday’s action online on the Slocum Sports Network.   Mattawan and the Eagles meet at 5:30 p.m., followed the Portage Central against the Blades around 7:45 p.m.

Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League (SWMHSHL) 2017-18 Season Preview

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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.

TEAM LEAGUE OVERALL PLAYOFFS
Kalamazoo United 9-1 21-4-1 Pre-Regional Loss
Mattawan 6-3-1 11-11-2 Pre-Regional Loss
SWM Blades 5-5 22-13-3 None
Portage Central 5-5 8-17-1 Pre-Regional Loss
Kalamazoo Eagles 3-6-1 N/A None
Portage Northern 1-9 8-18 Regional Final Loss

SWMHSHL Tournament Championship: Kalamazoo United 3, Mattawan 2.

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.

RECAP: Kalamazoo United, Mattawan Advance to SWMHSHL Tournament Final

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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

PREVIEW: SWMHSHL Semifinals Set for Wednesday

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Listen live Wednesday evening on the Slocum Sports Network to the semifinals of the Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League (SWMHSHL) tournament from Wings West.  At 5:30 p.m., the regular season champion and top seed Kalamazoo United faces fourth-seed Portage Central, followed by second-seed Mattawan and the third-seeded Blades of Southwest Michigan at 7:45 p.m.

Coming off their first-ever regular season league title, Kalamazoo United is the favorite at 19-1-1 overall and 9-1 in league play (including a 6-0 mark against the semifinal teams).   United defeated Portage Central in both of their regular season meetings, 4-1 on December 7 and 8-0 on January 25.

The Mustangs and United met in last year’s semifinal round with Portage Central earning a 4-1 win.  They’ve been in the tournament final three consecutive seasons and four of the last five, with two championships in that stretch.   This season, the Mustangs went 5-5 in league play and hold an overall mark of 8-14-1.

The second semifinal features defending tournament champion Mattawan, who won 4-3 over Portage Central in last year’s final.   They’ve also taken three of the last four tournament titles.   This season, the Wildcats went 6-3-1 for second in the league standings and enter the tournament at 10-10-2 overall.  They swept the regular season series over the Blades, 6-1 on December 3 and 6-4 on January 18.

Mattawan has dominated the Blades in recent memory, winning at least the last 15 meetings (the SWMHSHL website only lists back to 2011-12).    The Blades finished 5-5 in league play this season and sit at 20-8-2 overall, a significant improvement from a two-win campaign last season.  It’s their first semifinal appearance since 2013, when they lost 3-0 to Mattawan.    Momentum entering the semifinals favors the Blades, who are 8-1-1 in their last ten games compared to a 1-5-1 mark for Mattawan in their last seven (although, the Wildcats did take United to overtime their last time out).

Listen live to both semifinal games on the Slocum Sports Network with United against Portage Central at 5:30, followed by the Blades and Mattawan at 7:45.   The winners meet at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the championship.   The highest-seeded loser plays the Kalamazoo Eagles Saturday at 4:15 p.m. with the lowest-seeded loser meeting Portage Northern at 2 p.m. Saturday.     All three of those games are also scheduled for broadcast on the Slocum Sports Network.

RECAP: Blades, Mustangs Earn Wins and Spot in SWMHSHL Top Four

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The Southwest Michigan Blades topped Portage Northern 2-1 and Portage Central downed the Kalamazoo Eagles 6-4 Wednesday night at Wings West.  Because of these two games, the Blades and Portage Central are guaranteed to finish in the top four of the Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League (SWMHSHL) standings, meaning they’ll be in the tournament semifinals in two weeks along with Kalamazoo United and Mattawan.  Meanwhile, Portage Northern and the Eagles will finish in the bottom two and be relegated to consolation games.

The first game remained scoreless until 2:09 remained in the second period.  Will Todd scored for the Huskies with an assist by Drew Fitzgerald and Tyler Simon.  Portage Northern stayed ahead until 5:16 was left in the third period as a Jaxon Dobrolowski powerplay goal evened things up.  Then with 58.9 left, Mason Fitch scored on a wrap-around for what would be the game winner.    The Blades move to 16-7-1 overall and 4-4 in league play, good for fourth. They advance to the tournament semifinals for the first time in eight years.  The Huskies fell to 5-15 and are at the bottom, 1-8 in league play.

In the second game, two quick goals in the first three minutes (William Anderson, Konnor McLeod) gave Portage Central a 2-0 lead after the first period.  Max Mones made it a three goal game in the second, but a Blake Jarrett powerplay score put the Eagles back within two, 3-1, after two.   Skyler Sorensen quickly made it a three goal game again, but David Kiel matched him 18 seconds later for the Eagles.   But two minutes after that, with 12:10 remaining, McLeod pushed the Mustangs back up by three.

They would need the cushion as penalties, including a major for checking from behind, set up two Eagle powerplay goals.  James Wressel and Zachary Blackwell put the score at 5-4 with 8:12 left in the game.   However, the Mustangs were able to hold on from there, sealing the game in the final minute on an empty netter by Kobe Vincent.  The win moves the Mustangs to 8-12 overall and 5-4 in league play, third best.   The Eagles drop to 7-12-1 overall and 2-6-1 within league play.

These four teams will meet again, but in a different combination next Wednesday with the Eagles against the Huskies, and the Mustangs against the Blades.   Before then, the Blades meet Kalamazoo United in league play Saturday.   The other three have non-conference games ahead.  Portage Central travels to Byron Center Friday, Portage Northern hosts Lowell/Caledonia Saturday, and the Eagles host Marysville Saturday.

Listen back to Wednesday’s games below:

SWM BLADES VS PORTAGE NORTHERN

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PORTAGE CENTRAL VS KALAMAZOO EAGLES