FHC and FHNE Battle in the War of the Woods

Cross-town rivalry highlights this week’s slate of games to watch, upcoming predictions, key players and more

Craig Peterson

November 30, 2023

Photo from Instagram | @bmielock13
Photo from Instagram | @bmielock13

Hard to believe the first month of the season will be over this week. It’s a bit deceiving, and still a challenge to get a read on many teams, as only a handful are more than three games into the campaign. So while we’re one quarter of the way through the hockey calendar, we’re less than 15 percent of the way through teams’ game counts. Action will certainly pick up throughout the month of December, and be full go to the finish line from there. Plenty of action and games to discuss this week, so let’s get right into it.

Petey: 11-9-0
Public: 12-8-0

U of D Jesuit vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s
5pm at Viking Ice Arena

I expected Orchard Lake to have a strong ‘23-24 season, but even I was pretty impressed by their 3-2 upset of Brighton last week. If they string together another win here over a very talented U of D team, I may have to recalibrate my expectations for the Eaglets this season. St. Mary’s was idle two weeks ago, U of D was idle last week, so neither has much of a body of work yet. As much as I love the Cubs this season, I’m gonna take Orchard Lake to get another big win and put the rest of the state on notice.

Petey’s Pick: Orchard Lake St. Mary’s

Bay City vs. Flint Powers
7pm Bay County Civic Arena

In the preseason, I mentioned how SVL teams may be licking their chops a bit, looking to get payback on Powers. Many in the league had been victims to beatdowns over the last few years at the hands of the Chargers. I mentioned this matchup being a potential revenge game for the Wolves, and while I like their top-end guys like Gunnar Weber and Sean Daily, I’m not quite sure they have the depth to get it done on home ice. It could very well be close for the duration, like a 3-2 or 4-3 type game, but even a “rebuilding” Powers team may have just enough raw skill to make up for those deficiencies. 

Petey’s Pick: Flint Powers

Allen Park vs. Birmingham Unified
7:30pm Frank J. Lada Civic Arena

This would be a big win for BU if they could pull it off. Allen Park is solid in net with Jack Miller, and he’s played every minute of action for the Jags so far. I think their top lines offset each other a bit with Bobby Leis, Alex Hoerle and Logan Jent on one side for AP, and BU’s Timo McGrath and Nathaniel Bloom on the other. Expect them to trade offensive blows, but I gotta give the nod to goaltending, where the Jags have a pretty clear advantage. First one to three goals wins this, and I like AP to be that team.

Petey’s Pick: Allen Park

Bloomfield Hills vs. Lakes Area
6pm Detroit Skating Club

This is a great stylistic matchup with a top-end goalie in net for Lakes Area with Jakob Van Zweden. He’ll face a pretty balanced offensive attack from the Black Hawks that have had six different skaters tally six goals early on this season. One of those goal scorers is first-year senior forward with a AAA pedigree, Nick Elizarov. He’s an exceptional talent. Additionally, Dominik Dostal leads Bloomfield Hills in points with four in two games. Van Zweden is gonna steal some games for Lakes Area with his play in goal this season, but I don’t think this is going to be one of them. Black Hawks get their first win of the season.

Petey’s Pick: Bloomfield Hills

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Chippewa Valley United vs. Utica Eisenhower
6pm Suburban Ice Macomb

Ugh, Ike let me down in the picks segment last week. Now, I’m not so bitter as to allow that to impact my selection this week. However, last Wednesday’s loss to De La Salleugh! — snowballed into two more losses over the weekend. A big matchup here with a conference foe doesn’t do them any favors, especially with the way Chip Valley United comes to play. There’s a bit more sandpaper in their lineup, not to mention guys like Kevin Dolney and Karson Shriner who can put the puck in the net too. It’s a long season, and this stretch may be a distant memory come February, but I think the losing skid continues for the Eagles here. Fire up, Chips!

Petey’s Pick: Chippewa Valley United

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Grand Rapids Catholic Central vs. East Grand Rapids
6:30pm Patterson Ice Arena

West-Michigan high school hockey is weird in a way that almost every night seems like a rivalry game. Former Pee-Wee and Bantam teammates are now varsity foes. Finishing shaking hands at center ice, only to turn around and have mom take a picture of boys in opposing jerseys. On top of that, GRCC and EGR are two of the top teams in Grand Rapids, and if the Cougars are going to be as good as I think they can be, they’ll have to go through the Pioneers at some point this season. EGR is a bit more battle tested through the early stages of the season, and just might punch GRCC in the mouth with their depth up front. Coach Chris Newton has gotten real good performances from Joe Green in net as well; that helps a bunch. A potential playoff rematch could be very interesting later in the season, but I’m taking EGR in this spot.

Petey’s Pick: East Grand Rapids

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M-1 United vs. Novi
7pm John Lindell Arena

So different, yet so similar. Hats off to the matchmakers for this one, because I think this is a very intriguing matchup. Novi lost last week 4-2 to Northville, and M-1 should offer an eerily similar type of game as the Mustangs did. That was a game that Novi actually led Northville 2-1, so I expect coach Dane Baruzzini’s boys to hold their own against the Griffins, without the emotion and pressure of a rivalry game they experienced the week prior. M-1’s Charlie Price and Griffin Pryzbylo will be tough to slow down, but I’m taking the Wildcats to end a three-game skid, pull off an upset and get back in the win column.

Petey’s Pick: Novi 

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Forest Hills Northern-Eastern vs. Forest Hills Central
8pm Patterson Ice Arena

The War of the Woods will be waged for the first time this season, and the Birddogs come in winners of the last three meetings. In fact, FHNE has won nine of the last 12 meetings dating all the way back to the ‘17-18 season. This winter may be a changing of the guard in the rivalry though, as coach Bill McSween’s squad — albeit, very young — is exceptionally talented. Seven of the eight Rangers to get on the scoresheet thus far are underclassmen. The stage was a little too big for them last week against Hartland and Clarkston, but if FHC can keep its composure in an intense matchup, I think they could roll on Saturday and take control of this rivalry for the foreseeable future. Rangers win convincingly, 5-1.

Petey’s Pick: Forest Hills Central

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