Petey’s Preseason Top-25 Poll

No. 1 may be an obvious choice, but how does the rest shake out before puck drop?

Craig Peterson

November 8, 2023

Photo from Instagram | @egr_hockey
Photo from Instagram | @egr_hockey

This is a first for me. Maybe a first for Michigan high school hockey? Join me as I unveil Petey’s Preseason Top-25 Poll, consisting of teams from seven different conferences, 10 teams from Division-I, six teams from Division-II and nine from Division-III. Now that I spell those numbers out… could this be the first time in a long time that Division-I is actually viewed as the toughest playoff division? Did the playoff restructuring last season actually work and improve the postseason? Let’s not get carried away just yet.

To the matter at hand, I looked at a few key factors. First and foremost, who teams have coming back as well as the arrival of impactful newcomers. Then, my overall expectations for the team this season, and where I think teams would stack up if they went head-to-head today. Obviously, a lot will change in the coming weeks, and I’ll deliver those updates to you every Wednesday throughout the season. Keep an eye out for my Top 10 Teams HERE

Honorable Mentions: Jackson Lumen Christi (Division-III, SCHL), Bay City (Division-II, SVL) and Riverview Gabriel Richard (Division-III, Metro).

25. Saline (Division-I, SEC)

A very dangerous duo in Mateo Iadipaolo and Blake Woodrel, plus a three-year returner in net with Tyler Schroeder. Add in depth scoring with Aiden Rumohr and Antonio Giacalone and the Hornets could have a monster season.

24. Forest Hills Central (Division-I, OKC)

Could be a Top-10 team by the end of the season. Still a young squad; some of its biggest contributors will be underclassmen. Coach Bill McSween has the Rangers in position to make their largest year-over-year improvement since he took over three seasons ago. 

23. Escanaba (Division-III, Great Lakes)

Going to be very young this season, with sophomores like Nolan Bink and Graham Johnson leading the way offensively. Not to mention, classmate Cully Hayes in goal for the Eskymos. Youth won’t stop Escanaba from competing for the top spot in the Big North though.

22. Salem (Division-I, KLAA)

The KLAA East is ripe for the picking, and ‘23-24 just may be the Rocks’ season. A pair of first-year goalies could present a challenge, or an opportunity, and only time will tell. However, the leadership group is strong with guys like Ben Gramer, Alex Telepo and Cam Eichner.

21. Detroit Country Day (Division-III, Metro)

Clay Spencer’s game has elevated to ‘star power’ over this offseason. A dominant, high-end player is something the Yellowjackets have lacked a bit in recent memory. That changes this season for coach Frank Novock and I think DCD earns real, statewide recognition.

20. Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (Division-II, Metro)

The Irish are the real deal under coach Clint Robert. He’s built them into a well oiled machine that continues to turn over its roster and produce next-level prospects while winning a boatload of games. Insert Nick Dunphey up front and Easton Husak on the back end this season.

19. Northville (Division-I, KLAA)

Way ahead of schedule under second-year coach Ryan Ossenmacher. Young talent from last season is back and better than ever with guys like Connor Vissotski and Cole Lefere. Not to mention some of the new additions they’ve picked up this offseason.

18. Flint Powers (Division-III, SVL)

I like Nolan Berner and Andrew Parmentier as carry-overs from last season. There’s no denying that coach Travis Perry is going to have his work cut out for him, though, after graduating 12 players from the 2023 Division-III state championship squad.

17. Trenton (Division-II, MIHL)

Senior Noah Miklos and junior Evan Sivi combine for 58 varsity starts in goal for the Trojans. I’ve got some concerns offensively, just in terms of who is going to step up to produce goals. However, a pair of experienced goaltenders make up for a lot of perceived deficiencies.

16. Livonia Stevenson (Division-I, KLAA)

Unofficially, the youngest team in the state with one senior on the roster. I still think coach Dave Mitchell is going to have them competing on a consistent basis, in the midst of a youth movement. Guys like Owen Hall and Colin Stroble are too good not to give the Spartans a chance.

15. Saginaw Heritage (Division-II, SVL)

I think the Hawks are back on the statewide stage this season. I mean they never really left, they were just a bit overshadowed by Flints Powers’ recent run of dominance. They’ll be strong defensively, especially with the pair of returners Owen Turner and Logan Boettcher.

14. Howell (Division-I, KLAA)

If there’s one team I’m most confident in playing their way into the Top 10 this season, it’s the Highlanders. Coach Rocky Johnson said, “We wanna play fast” and there’s a bunch of players capable of providing offense. A run-and-gun approach could make it tough for a lot of teams to keep up with.

13. Byron Center (Division-II, OKC)

The Bulldogs have dominated the West side for the past four or five years now. I see that trend wearing off just a bit, but Jackson Froysland and Cade Pratt will still put BC in a position to win a lot of games and compete on a nightly basis. 

12. Bay Reps (Division-III, Independents)

They’re going to have a top line capable of playing with just about anyone in the state. Grant Lucas, Ethan Coleman and Larson Millar will produce, but can depth guys like Ethan Egelski and Thomas Boynton-Fisher provide secondary scoring needed to take this team to another level?

11. East Grand Rapids (Division-III, OKC)

Like many programs, may be a bit slower out of the gate as multi-sport football players get up to hockey speed. The Pioneers return as many as 15 from last season’s state final squad, including four their top five scorers in Ian McKeigan, Scotty Millman, Charlie Hoekstra and Brady Ross.

10. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (Division-III, OKC)

I’ll admit, I may have them slotted where I think they can be versus where they currently are. There’s potential for this team to be strong at all three levels. In goal, with Trent Goheen, on the blue line with Liam TenHarmsel and up front with Braylen Outwater are as good as anyone.

9. Marquette (Division-III, Great Lakes)

The Red Men may be the most structured and disciplined team in the U.P., and certainly one of the best in the entire state. Couple that with solid goaltending in Cole Kelly, and timely scoring offensively, and coach Doug Garrow will likely have Marquette among the top teams once again.

8. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (Division-III, MIHL)

Some scouts have pegged junior goalie Will Keane as one of the best in the state. Bold statement for a kid with just 13 varsity games under his belt. I’m buying it, though, and buying it to fuel the Eaglets to a big season in a tough MIHL.

7. Brother Rice (Division-II, MIHL)

It’s going to be a much different type of team from a season ago. Goalie Turner England said as much, admitting the Warriors will have to win low scoring, 2-1 type of games to have success. With a key returner in net, and four D-men back on the blue line as well, Rice may do just that.

6. Houghton (Division-III, Great Lakes)

A new era of Gremlin hockey is upon us as first-year coach Micah Stipech takes over for 25-year veteran Corey Markham. Players like Mikey Maillette and Connor Raffaelli will keep the Gremlins strong and compete, even after graduating the bulk of their offense a season ago.

5. Hartland (Division-I, KLAA)

Still a bit young, but super talented. Underclassmen Ian Kastamo and Drew L’Esperance could play quite a large role for this Division-I contender. Not to mention, seniors like L.J. Sabala ready to take the lead for a program that’s won 12 consecutive regional championships.

4. U of D Jesuit (Division-III, MIHL)

Third-year coach Paul Moretz has got to feel ahead of schedule, given the sheer amount of top prospects he has to work with this season. Aidan Charron, Carter Cate, Tommy Angell, Henry Balasia, Paul Therriault… the roster reads like a grocery list of of scoring threats.

3. Clarkston (Division-I, OAA)

May be the program’s toughest slate of games this season, with seven former state champions on the schedule. The Wolves will be ready for the challenge, though, with top-end talent in Owen Croston and Ron Wade, to name just a few. Plus, experience in net and on the blue line.

2. Brighton (Division-I, KLAA)

They feel like it’s their year. Hell, outsiders feel like it’s Brighton’s year. That’s a lot of pressure, but with 12 returners, two goalies, top two scorers and a couple of defensemen, the Bulldogs have all the pieces to make a title run and be the best team in the state.

1. Detroit Catholic Central (Division-I, MIHL)

The Shamrocks are in the midst of a historic run. They could tie a state record — that they already hold from ‘99 to ‘03 — with a fifth consecutive state championship. And, until I actually see someone take down the top dog, I have no reason to think their 35-game win streak won’t continue for quite some time.

I know you think I’m too high on ___. Don’t like how low I’ve got ___. If only there was a public forum for you to fill in the blanks and send it my way 🤔 Oh, that’s right I know!

Want to talk about it? Let's connect on social: