Father-Son Coaches Go Head-to-Head in Givens Bowl XIV

Family rivalry between Traverse City Central and Alpena coaches look to even the score before the holiday season

Craig Peterson

December 20, 2023


The holiday season is upon us. Snow is on the ground. The air is crisp and cool. Presents under the tree, and for a moment, the hockey season will pause — even at the NHL level — while we all enjoy some time with family. None of that will happen for the Givens family until after dad, Chris, goes head-to-head with son, Cam, in the 14th edition of the Givens Bowl. 

Cam is an assistant coach for 6-3-0 Alpena. He’ll help shepherd the Wildcats to Howe Ice Arena on Saturday night to take on Traverse City Central for the first time this season. On the opposing bench will be Chris; the head coach for 4-5-0 Trojans. In 13 previous meetings in this father-son rivalry, it’s fitting that the ‘old man’ holds a 7-6-0 edge in the Givens household. This weekend, though, Cam will have a chance to even the series ahead of holiday festivities as Alpena is white hot as of late.

Givens Bowl highlights a great slate of games heading into break. After Saturday, Michigan high school hockey action will pause, without a single game on the schedule until at least next Wednesday. So let’s get our fix of the picks and focus in on some of the biggest matchups heading into the holiday.

Petey: 41-26-2
Public: 43-21-2

Ann Arbor Pioneer vs. Grosse Ile
Wednesday, 7pm @ Ann Arbor Ice Cube

How about the Pioneers? They are out to a 7-2-0 start to the season and Max Khomutin leads the team in scoring with 16 points in seven games. They’ve got two big games on the schedule heading this week, and while the Saline matchup on Friday will be tense, Pioneer’s gotta take care of business in Metro League action first. Grosse Ile is 7-1-0 and riding a four-game win streak. That matches the Red Devils’ start from last season when they won 21 games. Fisher Gurney is second in the state in scoring with 29 points and Tate Hubler isn’t far behind with 25 points. Pioneer hasn’t faced an offense yet this season that is this dynamic, and is a real ‘prove it’ spot. I ain’t picking against ‘em again because everybody in Ann Arbor will let me know if I’m wrong. So give me the Purple People Eaters to add to their resume with a big win — BIG WIN! — over Grosse Ile.

Petey’s Pick: Ann Arbor Pioneer

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Western-Pinckney vs. Milford
Wednesday, 7:15pm @ Kensington Valley Ice House

Two teams trending in opposite directions. I liked Milford quite a bit in the preseason but a 1-6-0 start out of the gate was cause for concern. Since then, the Mustangs have won three of four games, averaging 5.0 goals scored in that stretch. Meanwhile, Western-Pinckney — who started out hot with a 5-1-0 record — is currently on a three-game skid. The Mustangs have bounced back from their rough start, and that is definitely encouraging. Plus, leading scorer Alex Kozar’s 10 points have come in the last five games. Things are trending upward for Milford but I think this is a spot where Western-Pinckney gets back in the win column. It’s a close game! But Joey Sines, Max Siratskiy and Nate Cohen are too much to keep quiet offensively.

Petey’s Pick: Western-Pinckney

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East Grand Rapids vs. Flint Powers
Wednesday, 7:30pm @ Patterson Ice Center

Flint Powers will travel more than 100 miles for a one-off weekday game. I commend coach Travis Perry; it’s the second time this season they’ve scheduled non-conference, mid-week opponents for a one-and-done type game. These are character-building matchups where you really see what your team is capable of, and it almost doesn’t matter whether you win or lose because your team is tested so much mentally and physically. Six skaters are in double figures for Powers, and I think they produce a good amount of offense despite the potential for heavy bus legs. EGR, on the other hand, has lost arguably its three biggest games on the schedule thus far. I think that ends tonight as the Pioneers enjoy some home cooking and get a much-needed win heading into the holiday break.

Petey’s Pick: East Grand Rapids

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Utica Ford Unified vs. St. Clair Shores Unified
Thursday, 8pm @ Big Boy Arena

St. Clair Shores Unified hasn’t won a game since pre-Thanksgiving. I think that ends on Thursday. They’ve played teams tough, and it’s been a bit more difficult of a schedule than their Utica Ford Unified counterparts in this matchup. SCS suffered a heart-breaking overtime loss to a stout Romeo team, and fell to a skilled Port Huron Northern team 4-2. More recently, they played Midland and Midland Dow tough on consecutive days. With a little more seasoning and experience against strong competition, I think Brennen Lenk and Caden Gersch benefit from those tough matchups and get SCS back in the win column.

Petey’s Pick: St. Clair Shores Unified

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Rockford vs. West Ottawa
Friday, 6:30pm @ Griff’s Icehouse

Big matchup between mid-major OKC Rue Division opponents. West Ottawa is winners of four of its last five while Rockford has lost four straight. Even with the two teams trending in opposite directions, this should be a close one. Will Nagelvoort and Dorian Lucius give WO a slight advantage in net, but senior Austin Helder and his six-game point streak is who really tips the scales. He’s a do-it-all player for the Panthers playing forward and defense. Can Rams defensemen Sam Piatek, Austin Cavasin and company contain Helder? They’ll have to keep him off the score sheet in order for Rockford to get the ‘W’ and I don’t see that happening.

Petey’s Pick: West Ottawa

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Eastside vs. Cap City
Friday, 8pm @ East Lansing Ice Cube

Home, sweet home! Going back to my Greater Lansing area hockey roots with this SCHL matchup. Cap City has become the class of Mid-Michigan in recent years, having won back-to-back Division-I regional championships and three titles in the last five seasons. A 5-2-1 record certainly has them at the forefront of the discussion yet again this season and dynamic sophomores Chase Potter and Trevor Nightingale are big reasons for that. But Eastside looks to take ownership of the East Lansing Ice Cube, coming off of big wins — BIG WINS! — over Mattawan and Sault Ste. Marie in consecutive weeks. Senior goaltender Reed Drouare proved he gives his team a chance to win virtually every night when he made 37 saves in the 1-0 win over The Soo. Cap City averages 30.5 shots on goal per game, and they may need to put 40 on net to break through Eastside’s last line of defense, but I think they get it done in a low-scoring game.

Petey’s Pick: Cap City

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Given Bowl XIV: Traverse City Central vs. Alpena
Saturday, 3pm @ Howe Ice Arena

Central looked good, even in defeat, when I watched them against rival Traverse City West two weeks ago. But the Trojans have struggled a bit to produce offense with just 14 goals in their last six games. I like Graham Peters a lot — he’s a promising prospect — and Laiken Batcha and Cole Herzberg add nice wrinkles offensively as well. The Wildcats, however, have handled just about every one-line team they’ve faced thus far, only struggling with the offensive depth of Bay Reps and Byron Center. A young TCC team just isn’t quite deep enough here and I think assistant coach Cam Givens evens up the family rivalry at seven wins apiece.

Petey’s Pick: Alpena

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