South Central Hockey League Preview

As many as five teams with a legitimate chance at winning a championship

Craig Peterson

October 10, 2023

Photo from Instagram | @capcity_hockey
Photo from Instagram | @capcity_hockey

A seven-team conference in which five of them finished with an overall winning record last season. The South Central Hockey League (SCHL) is one of the most sneaky competitive conferences in Michigan high school hockey. Four different programs have won an SCHL championship in the five seasons the league has been in existence. I’m not sure any other conference in the state has seen that level of parity over that span. 

There’s a chance a fifth different program could win the league this season and keep that consistently inconsistent trend at the top of the SCHL in tact. However, defending champ Lumen Christi does return a ton at all three levels, which will make it difficult for anyone to dethrone the Titans.

Last Season’s Champion: Jackson Lumen Christi

Went 18-9-0 last season, eliminated in the regional semifinal. Lumen Christi has had a slew of in-season success, winning the SCHL two seasons in a row and being one of the best teams in Mid-Michigan with great regularity. In the past seven seasons, they’ve eclipsed 17 wins four times, including two 20-win campaigns. Yet, you have to go all the way back to 2011 the last time the Titans won a regional championship at the state level. 

Local success has been second to none, even going back to my playing days in the Greater Lansing area. But can Lumen take the next step and compete at the state level? Conference foes like Cap City, Mattawan and even Mid-Michigan have taken significant steps and shown well in non-conference games and the State Playoffs in recent memory. I’d love to see the Titans move on to bigger and better goals, and return to the D-III state tournament.

Players To Watch: 

Brayden Lewis, Mattawan Junior Forward

Scored 30 points in his first season of high school hockey. Still an underclassman, Lewis may be one of the most talented forwards in the league and with Mattawan’s style of play, he could help win a lot of games this season.

Cayden Stasienko, Portage Junior Forward

He has 61 career points entering his third season of high school hockey. Stasienko is a dynamic playmaker who should lead a predominantly young Portage team with a wealth of experience, despite still being an underclassman.

Max Tyler, Cap City Senior Forward

I feel like I’ve been talking about Tyler for six years now. How does he have any eligibility left?! He missed the first half of the season due to injury, but still averaged 1.64 points per game. That pace would have made him the second-leading scorer in the league as a junior. Give him a full season and watch what he does.

Dan Brady, Lumen Christi Senior Defenseman

He’s one of three very important returners that the Titans get back on the blue line this season. Brady may be the most well-rounded, being a big body that can skate, defend and produce, as evident by his eight goals and 25 points as a junior. 

Luke Sexton, Lumen Christi Senior Defenseman

Lumen’s defense accounted for 31.4 percent of the team’s offense last season. Sexton produced the bulk of that with 14 goals and 31 points. If you’re looking for active, involved defenders who can do a bit of everything, Sexton’s your guy.

Reed Drouare, Eastside Senior Goalie

There’s a surprising amount of good goaltenders in this league, and settling on Drouare was not an easy one. However, Drouare gives his team a chance to win on a nightly basis. He went 12-3-1 last season, with two of those losses being 34-save and 49-save efforts in one-goal games.

Save The Date: Feb. 7th, Lumen Christi vs. Cap City

This is the date I’m circling on the calendar because I believe it’s the two best teams in the SCHL. However, I don’t think the league championship will be decided by the winner of this matchup. The key for both of these teams will be can they handle business in other important games leading up to the matchup. A mid-week game at Portage in the middle of January. An early December road game on the West Side. Can either — or both — of these teams win the games they should win to set the stage for the game they want to win most? The road to an SCHL championship isn’t an easy path for anyone this season.

Petey’s Prediction: Cap City

I think the SCHL will be utter chaos this season. Your league champion may finish with multiple conference losses on their resume come season’s end, and as many as three different teams could still be in the hunt by February. I love what Lumen has coming back this season in Brady and Sexton, plus Josh DuMont and Zach Kaakkola, to name a few. But pandemonium in the forecast doesn’t bode well for the two-time defending champs.

Cap City has been on a steady rise over the years, growing to the point where they don’t rebuild, they reload. The Caps went 14-8-3 in the face of a tough non-conference schedule and were rewarded with their second consecutive Division-I State Quarterfinals appearance. That’s not a fluke or a flash in the pan; it’s a sign of things to come for Cap City. 

Now, with all that said, Mattawan has a real chance of playing a factor in the league championship as well. Brayden Lewis is special, and the Wildcats will be well-coached, disciplined and an extremely tough out for anyone. Plus, let’s not forget about Eastside, who happened to beat Lumen, Mattawan and Cap City all in a two-week stretch last season. Expect parody to be on full display, right down to the wire in the SCHL.

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