Bay Reps host annual North-South Showcase
Eight ranked teams, 24 total set to compete in Traverse City this weekend
January 10, 2024
What’s considered “Northern Michigan”? Some say anything past Clare. Others say the Zilwaukee Bridge. Yoopers may argue nothing below them. Well, the Bay Reps certainly take a stab at settling what’s considered directional in the state with their North-South Showcase.
Not all matchups at the North-South Showcase feature a northern team against a southern program, but there are several intriguing directional matchups. Additionally, there’s plenty of top-ranked teams in the mix. Eight teams from my latest Top-25 Rankings will be competing in Traverse City this weekend, and I’ll be on-site to take in all the action. We will have exclusive coverage of the showcase in its entirety, including previewing all 24 games below. Be sure to follow me on social media as well for live commentary, and check back to the website for recap and breakdown of the action.
The answer is anything past Mount Pleasant, by the way.
Grand Rapids Christian vs. Bay City
Bay City’s been a team of destiny this season. There’s been some bumps along the way, but Gunnar Weber has been a dynamic scorer with a point in every game so far. I’m not sure Grand Rapids Christian can contain Weber, nor produce enough offense to win a track meet with Bay City either. Give me the Wolves to win their fifth straight.
Petey’s Pick: Bay City
Big Rapids vs. Lake Orion
Big Rapids has struggled offensively this season, scoring three-or-more goals just four times. Lake Orion hasn’t been an offensive juggernaut either, but they have shown an ability to produce against tough competition. This is where your strength of schedule pays off, and even though losses to Marquette, Stoney Creek and Clarkston are tough to stomach, it prepares you for spots like this. I’m expecting a big night from Luca Chiarini and Braden Graham, and the Dragons get their first win in nearly a month.
Petey’s Pick: Lake Orion
Allen Park vs. M-1 United
These two teams are just 20 miles down Southfield Road from each other, but traveling to the opposite end of the state to face off Friday morning. You have to laugh at the circumstances but ultimately as a coach and player, you want great matchups in an event like this. Both Allen Park and M-1 United will get just that, as they stack up well. The Griffins have a higher top end, and may be a bit deeper up front. Jack Miller would need a big performance in net for the Jags, and I still don’t know if it would be enough.
Petey’s Pick: M-1 United
Chippewa Valley United vs. Hudsonville
Hudsonville has been shut out seven times this season, but I don’t see that happening here. Chippewa Valley United tends to find itself in high-scoring games with an average of 7.63 total goals. I expect the Eagles to enjoy some success offensively with guys like Kaleb Anderson and Trey Louis getting involved. However, I’m not sure they can produce enough to outscore the likes of Cam Staskowski and Kevin Dolney, Jr. on the opposite side.
Petey’s Pick: Chippewa Valley United
Grand Rapids Christian vs. Plymouth
I’ve probably picked against Plymouth enough this season, so before doing any research, I’m just gonna go ahead and take the Wildcats. Really though, they’ve been playing solid hockey all season long and are way better than their 7-6-0 record would imply. I like Grand Rapids Christian’s playmakers a lot, but Plymouth has faced some of the best in the game this season. I can’t imagine Josh VanSchepen, Josh Hooper or Jack Micus show the Wildcats anything they haven’t seen already.
Petey’s Pick: Plymouth
Bay City vs. Escanaba
I’ve been waiting for Escanaba to start clicking. There’s a good amount of young talent on this roster; Graham Johnson, Nolan Bink, Cale Carter, Owen LaBonte all dangerous in their own right. So I’m scratching my head over their 5-8-0 start. They’re gonna ‘get right’ at some point. Hell, it may not even be until next season, considering 14 of the 16 players on the roster are underclassmen. They will turn a corner at some point, but I don’t expect it to be Friday morning. Bay City is 2-1-0 in the second game of back-to-backs; I think they close out the road trip with a second victory in Traverse City.
Petey’s Pick: Bay City
Alpena vs. Grandville
Two teams in desperate need of a win. Alpena is winless in its last five games and Grandville is on a six-game skid of its own. Good news is, one of them will walk away with a win here. Alpena may not have been on the winning side of things lately, but the Wildcats are a tough bunch. A 3-2 loss to No. 16 Hancock, and close games with No. 3 Byron Center and Northville. Even in defeat, Alpena has played tough teams tough, and that should set them up for success here. Garrett Hamp has 16 goals this season, and the team’s offense has a track record of producing. That should put them over the top in this matchup with Grandville, that’s only scored four goals twice in the past six games.
Petey’s Pick: Alpena
Big Rapids vs. Utica Eisenhower
Utica Eisenhower has just one win this season, but it came against the previously mentioned tough Alpena squad just two weeks ago. Big Rapids on the other hand, has been in a bit of a slump of its own as of late. Just one win in its last six games, and hasn’t scored more than two goals since Dec. 9th. Ike’s record doesn’t deter me at all in this one. They’ve scored four goals in defeat against Anchor Bay, five goals in a tie against No. 24 Romeo, three goals in a loss to Chippewa Valley United and four goals in defeat to Stoney Creek. Those are all pretty formidable opponents, leading me to believe the Eagles will be able to produce offense in this matchup. I’m not so sure the Cardinals are as capable.
Petey’s Pick: Utica Eisenhower
East Grand Rapids vs. St. Edward’s (OH)
St. Edward’s is 3-0-0 against Michigan high school hockey teams this season with wins over Sault Ste. Marie, Alpena and Escanaba. But people wearing maize and blue have fared pretty well against opponents from the state of Ohio lately, and East Grand Rapids is playing some pretty damn good hockey. East is rolling, and I think they hold St. Edward’s below its 3.75 goals scored per game, giving Ian MacKeigan, Glenn Green and Scotty Millman a chance to get a big win over the No. 3-ranked team in Ohio.
Petey’s Pick: East Grand Rapids
Kingsford vs. Lake Orion
This has the makings of a low-scoring game, as Kingsford and Lake Orion are averaging just 2.1 goals scored per game. While the Flivvers’ offense hasn’t been explosive this season, they have found success in low-scoring games. They have a 2-1-0 record in games with five or few goals scored, which is exactly what I expect to happen in this one. LO on the other hand, has only played two such games and lost them both. Junior forward Gavin Moore’s ability to finish may be enough to single-handedly win this defensive struggle for Kingsford.
Petey’s Pick: Kingsford
Byron Center vs. Howell
Without knowing Byron Center’s draw for the upcoming MIHL Showcase, I see no reason why they can’t run the table from here on out. I like Howell this season, but this isn’t a favorable spot nor is it good timing. The Highlanders have lost two of the last three games and have a 3.13 team goals-against average in their last eight. Not a good recipe when going against a Bulldogs team with three guys in double-digit goals and five skaters with at least eight goals or more this season. They’re gonna score at least four goals in this one, and I don’t think Howell can win a track meet with Byron Center.
Petey’s Pick: Byron Center
Bay Reps vs. Marquette
The Bay Reps’ top end may be the best of anybody in Traverse City this weekend. Grant Lucas is making a strong case to be in the Mr. Hockey conversation, and Thomas Boynton-Fisher and Ethan Coleman are north of 30 points already. But they have struggled against teams with good depth, most recently a 3-3 tie with Byron Center and a 2-1 loss to Grand Rapids Catholic Central. Marquette is among the deepest teams in the state, second only to Detroit Catholic Central and Houghton. While they don’t have the top-end scoring threats that the Reps do, Marquette is gonna open the bench door, roll four lines and six D and wear you down with an aggressive style that’s led them to win their last 10 games. I’m taking Marquette’s depth and solid goaltending to get it done and pull off the upset.
Petey’s Pick: Marquette
Traverse City Central vs. Livonia Stevenson
Two young teams in the midst of growing pains this season. Both Traverse City Central and Livonia Stevenson check in with quiet .500 records, but the Spartans still sit atop the KLAA’s East Division while the Trojans are currently first place in the Big North. There’s been positives and negatives, opportunities and growth, so it’s a matchup of two programs in very similar situations. I like Stevenson’s top line quite a bit better than the Trojans at the moment, and the Spartans are 6-2-1 when Derek Buchanan gets on the scoresheet. He has a big night, and Stevenson wins its 19th consecutive game at the North-South Showcase.
Petey’s Pick: Livonia Stevenson
Traverse City West vs. Forest Hills Central
I’m looking forward to seeing Forest Hills Central in this spot. Last time I saw them, the Rangers faced a good bit of adversity against Clarkston and it affected them significantly. I think Traverse City West could pose similar challenges just with the environment, being on the road and potential for frustration to ensue. FHC is the more talented team, but that doesn’t always translate to wins. West has just enough at all three levels of the lineup that they could make this very interesting. How will Central respond when Alonso Ovaitt stops 20-of-21 shots through the first two periods? Can they overcome a couple ‘bad penalties’ and weather the emotional storm? Huge growth opportunity for a young team.
Petey’s Pick: Forest Hills Central
Allen Park vs. St. Edward’s (OH)
Junior goaltender Jack Miller can certainly give Allen Park a chance in this game, but St. Edward’s has a pretty overwhelming offense. The Eagles have scored three or more goals in nine of their last 10 games, and I expect them to keep Allen Park hemmed in its own zone for long stretches. This could have a very similar feel to it as the Jags’ 4-2 loss to Trenton last weekend where Miller faced 36 shots. I hate to pick anything from Ohio, but it’s just too tough of a spot for Allen Park here.
Petey’s Pick: St. Edward’s
Alpena vs. M-1 United
M-1 United has not fared great when playing games on consecutive days. Both losses have come the last two times they’ve played on back-to-back days, so this is a tricky spot for the Griffins. Charlie Price, Logan Eland and Zach Steiner are pretty dangerous offensively that I’m not sure Alpena can counter. Garrett Hamp is averaging a goal per game, but the Wildcats will need more secondary scoring to keep up with the Griffins. I don’t see that happening. So I’ll hesitantly take M-1 to win both games of a back-to-back for the first time since Dec. 2nd.
Petey’s Pick: M-1 United
Traverse City Central vs. Howell
If Howell drops its game to Byron Center on Friday as I suspect, it could be a bit deflating. However, I do like the Highlanders to bounce back against Traverse City Central and leave the weekend and ultimately feeling good about themselves in the end. I don’t know that the Trojans have an answer for Senior forward Joel Eskola. Plus Ben Huotari has a knack for scoring in bunches as well with eight multi-point games this season. Graham Peters and Laiken Batcha manage to keep it close, but Howell prevails 4-3.
Petey’s Pick: Howell
Chippewa Valley United vs. Kingsford
Kingsford hasn’t scored more than three goals in a game since the opening week of the season; a 5-2 win over Bay City. I actually think the Flivvers offense could find success against a Chippewa Valley United team surrendering 3.69 goals against per game. Cam Staskowski and Kevin Dolney, Jr. provide the Chips with enough firepower to win this tennis match. Expect the boys to get up and down the ice with plenty of offense off the rush.
Petey’s Pick: Chippewa Valley United