Petey’s Picks: State Semifinals
One Win Away from the Finale
March 12, 2020
We enter the final weekend of the season with just nine games left on the schedule. When the dust settles, new champions will be crowned and what began with 138 teams on November 18th will end with just three left standing.
I went into a ton of detail on how each team could make a case and legitimately exit the weekend as champions, but now we’ll lock in some picks for the six Semifinal matchups and who will make it to State Final Saturday at USA Hockey Arena.
Petey’s Picks: 81-49
Division-II starts on Thursday evening with Division-I and Division-III battling on Friday. Let’s make some of the biggest predictions of the season!
THURSDAY, MARCH 12TH AT 5:00 PM
These two teams played to a 3-3 tie on December 20th, but I think the rematch could be a little bit different. I’m not saying Trenton wins comfortably over the two-time defending champion Hartland, but I do think the Trojans dictate the game significantly.
Coach Chad Clements’ squad plays fast and Hartland’s top line can match that speed, however, I think Trenton carries the edge when it comes to depth. That was evident when the Eagles struggled to keep up for the first two periods of that tie game, falling behind 3-0 at the halfway point. They managed to mount a three-goal comeback in the final 20 minutes of regulation, and have made a bit of a habit out of late-game heroics but if Hartland keeps playing with fire, it just might get burned.
THURSDAY, MARCH 12TH AT 7:30 PM
I think this will be the best Semifinal of the six games listed. Marquette is dynamic, deep and dangerous. Brother Rice is dynamic, deep and dangerous. Expect to see a lot of high-level plays, great action and exciting moments in what should be a thrilling game.
Marquette is the home team and having last change could prove to be the difference. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it plays a pivotal role in gaining an edge as far as line matchups are concerned. Coach Doug Garrow could opt to pit top-vs-top, letting Gaetano Cammarata and company stack up against Rice’s stellar trio. If that doesn’t work, at least he’ll have the luxury of exploiting matchups and getting his scorers in mismatch situations.
Last change is a factor, but not the deciding factor. I think Marquette surprises the Warriors early with a 2-1 lead at the midway point, but coach Kenny Chaput’s group hangs in, battles back and advances to the finale.
FRIDAY, MARCH 13TH AT 11:00 AM
Two top-line heavy teams. They either cancel each other out and negate scoring opportunities altogether in a low-scoring game. Or, what I’m hoping for, Luke Blasy and Nathan Vazquez swap scoring opportunities all day in an exciting shootout.
Gabriel Richard generates a lot of opportunities on the rush, while Midland Dow creates chances in-zone. They both could prove to be effective in Friday morning’s matchup but I like the Chargers’ ability to defend in transition a bit better than RGR’s chances of protecting the D-zone. The Pioneers will just have to be very disciplined defensively and I’m a little bit skeptical. Drew Adams is playing some of his best hockey though, and can bail them out of some mental lapses or breakdowns in structure, it’s a dangerous way to try and win a game.
Give me Dow to win in a high-scoring, drama-filled Semifinal where the stars on both teams shine bright in the spotlight.
FRIDAY, MARCH 13TH AT 1:30 PM
A stifling defense against a potent offense. This game will be won or lost in Country Day’s end of the ice. Calumet has a ton of offensive weapons to account for and the Yellowjackets have a wealth of defensive standouts to offset those threats. If Tanner Rowe and Dean Loukus get to buzzing around the offensive zone, I think the game goes one way for the Copper Kings. If Jacob Thomas and Gino Sessa are quick on retrievals and effective at getting pucks out, the game will go the other direction for Country Day.
Alex Studebaker gives Calumet a significant edge in net. While I’m confident Country Day could put him to work and generate some grade-A opportunities, I like his chances of standing tall and answering the challenge. The game is close for two periods, but the Copper Kings pull away in the third to end Country Day’s impressive run over D-III, knocking off the two-time defending champs.
FRIDAY, MARCH 13TH AT 5:00 PM
Both teams have plenty of offense and playmakers in their top nine. DCC, however, may be the only one who can defend just as well as it can attack.
I’m not saying Byron Center can’t create offense against CC’s back end in this matchup, they’re just going to have to find it in different ways than the Bulldogs have done in the past. They’ve never faced a team of this caliber and the Shamrocks are phenomenal at defending in transition with fantastic back pressure and tight gap control. BC will have to be willing to dump and chase, keeping the attack simple and getting pucks deep behind CC’s stud defenders.
I like the Shamrocks to get out to a lead quick and stay out in front, as Coach Brandon Kaleniecki’s squad is so disciplined in all three phases of the game.
FRIDAY, MARCH 13TH AT 7:30 PM
At the beginning of the season, I wouldn’t have said this but after four months of resume building I’m prepared to say it now. These are two very evenly matched teams and Friday night’s game could legitimately go either way.
Howell hockey is back on the map with significant starpower that has elevated their game with the season on the line. After an 8-0 performance in the opening round, the Highlanders have flirted with elimination not once, not twice but three times and rose to the occasion in each round. Now facing Saginaw Heritage, a team they beat 5-2 less than three weeks ago, confidence will be high in the Highlanders’ locker room.
The Hawks won’t go quietly into the night though. It’s going to be tough to beat coach J.J. Bamberger’s squad twice in less than a month and Brady Rappuhn’s line is no pushover. In fact, I like Heritage to avenge that loss and play some inspired hockey in its third straight trip to Plymouth. Hawks get it done.
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