Saginaw Valley League Preview
Flint Powers Looks To Make It A Four-Peat At The Top
October 19, 2023
It’s been an impressive run for Flint Powers. The Chargers have won three consecutive Saginaw Valley League (SVL) championships, with a 16-0-1 record in league play during that span. The last time Powers lost to an SVL team, COVID wasn’t a thing.
Coach Travis Perry has had the Chargers on an absolute heater, and it peaked last March with the program’s first state championship in history. It was a run that was years in the making, with a graduating class of 11 skaters. That core group had played together throughout their four years of high school hockey, but also several years of youth hockey as well. I’m not saying Powers won’t have success this season, but replicating that in ‘23-24 will be near impossible. The chemistry, the culture, the vibe amongst the group will be vastly different than what it’s been over the last few seasons. Can guys like Nolan Berner and Andrew Parmentier put their own spin on things to make this Chargers team unique in its own way while also maintaining on-ice success?
While Powers basked in its success, winning games and hoisting hardware over the last few seasons, a bullseye on its back grew bigger and bigger. Heritage — not far removed from being the class of the SVL — quietly rebuilt and retooled itself. Midland Dow, 18 months removed from its own state championship, added and developed new players. Additions to Bay City and Midland offer a lot to like as well. Point is, the rest of the league is starved and ready for revenge.
Last Season’s Champion: Flint Powers
The Chargers’ recent run of dominance in the SVL may be second to none in the current era of Michigan high school hockey. Back-to-back-to-back undefeated seasons in league-play is a rare feat. A state championship is even more elusive. With Powers achieving both those feats, it will be interesting to see where the program goes from here. Eleven players last season finished with double digits in points, but only two of them return this fall. They’ll have to replace a ton from their championship team a season ago. There’s plenty of question marks coming in to ‘23-24, so it will be interesting to see how the Chargers enter this next phase as a program.
Players To Watch:
Gunnar Weber, Bay City Senior Forward
A player that just has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Weber led the league in scoring last season and returns, as do both of his line mates Sean Daily and Lucas Nieman.
Zane Rastello, Midland Dow Sophomore Forward
A lumbering, heavy forward who sets up shop around the net. I expect Dow to bounce back after a down season, and young players like Rastello return with more experience under their belts.
Andrew Parmentier, Flint Powers Junior Forward
The Chargers have to replace a ton of offense from a season ago. Parmentier can certainly supplement some of that, but is also capable of replacing a lot of it as well.
Nolan Berner, Flint Powers Junior Defenseman
A top performer in the MDHL this fall, Berner is really starting to blossom as a high school hockey prospect. Good footwork, strong puck skills. I think he makes a big leap from his 17-point sophomore season.
Owen Turner, Saginaw Heritage Senior Defenseman
May be the best defenseman in the SVL. Turner gets up and down the ice well and plays with a bit of an attitude. Pairs well with his 16 goals and 35 points from a season ago.
Nash Leonard, Bay City Junior Goalie
Leonard was in a timeshare in net with sophomore goalie Owen Grendel last season. I’d expect that split to continue into ‘23-24, which gives the Wolves a wealth of experience at a crucial position that the rest of the league currently lacks.
Save The Date: Nov. 29th Bay City vs. Flint Powers
UPSET ALERT! I expect Flint Powers to be good. I expect them to be in the hunt for the SVL championship come season’s end. However, the Chargers have lost a lot and the rest of the league returns a good amount. I think the gap has closed significantly and multiple teams are lining up to get their licks in after suffering several seasons of abuse at the hands of the Chargers. Bay City brings back its entire top line and both goaltenders. Not only do the Wolves have players coming back, but Gunnar Weber may be the best forward in the league. An early-season game where teams are still ironing out the kinks, on the road, right before holiday break has the makings of an upset. Watch out.
Petey’s Prediction: Saginaw Heritage
After a few challenging seasons, I think coach J.J. Bamberger returns Heritage back to the statewide scene. Once a perennial Top-25 team in Michigan high school hockey, the Hawks have taken a bit of a backseat to Powers during its impressive run. That changes in ‘23-24 when Owen Turner and Logan Boettcher take back the top spot in the SVL.
Powers could reload and remain atop the league this season. However, the losses are pretty significant in terms of importance and just the sheer quantity of key figures that have moved on. I’m sure they’ll be in the hunt, and the league championship may even be decided when Heritage and Powers meet on Feb. 10th. I just see the Hawks at a better starting position to begin the season, which should set them up for success as the schedule wears on.
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