Tim Peterson Scores First Varsity Goal For Brighton Hockey

Freshmen Forwards Making Immediate Impacts Around The State

Craig Peterson

November 27, 2023

Photo by Timothy Arrick
Photo by Timothy Arrick

Cam Duffany looped behind the Hartland net aggressively on a forecheck. He came up behind defenseman Brady Snyder, executed a stick lift and skated away with the puck cleanly. Duffany quickly turned and attacked the net, just as Snyder tangled up with him and they both spilled to the ice. Duffany adapted, and shuffle-boarded a pass from his knees across the slot to line mate Lane Petit. The puck conveniently placed right into his wheelhouse for a quick release wrist shot. Eagles goaltender, Brady Hubenschmidt — shuffling from his right to his left as he tracked Duffany’s movements — was square to Petit’s initial shot and made the first save. However, the rebound from the low and hard shot squirted out no less than four feet back to the weak side of the play. 

All of that transpired just as Bulldogs freshman Tim Peterson glided in to follow up the play. The 2009-born forward was quick to react, didn’t stickhandle, didn’t bobble, didn’t think. Peterson quickly one-touched the rebound back at the net’s direction and past Hubenschmidt for his first career varsity goal.

Brighton is one of the top high school hockey programs in Michigan. It’s got a long and deep history of top-level players and state champions. Peterson is the first freshman skater in the Bulldogs’ lineup since Landon MacDonald broke through in the 2019-20 season. MacDonald is now playing his third season in the NAHL this winter and committed to play NCAA D-I hockey for Northern Michigan.

What I love most about this is what ensued after Peterson found the back of the net for the first time.

The four other Brighton skaters on the ice mobbed Peterson as if he just scored the game-winning goal of the state final. Fists and sticks pounded the boards in front of the Bulldogs’ bench with a little extra vigor. Assistant coach Luke Morgan pointed in the referee’s direction to try and get his attention. Petit circled back to long-time Michigan high school hockey linesman Rico Phillips, and asked for the puck as a keepsake to commemorate the historic first. There’s nothing quite like your first varsity goal, and everyone is in on it. 

This story isn’t unique to Peterson himself, but it is unique for all the first-timers and freshmen out there. And there’s plenty of them this season worth noting.

Seth Sandstrom, Mike Timmer among early standouts from the Class of 2027

Peterson is a really nice player for Brighton. The fact he’s not just in the lineup, but on the Bulldogs’ top line alongside Duffany and Petit is a testament to his ability to play at the varsity level.

One thing I love about high school hockey is seeing some of the 14- and 15-year-old freshmen compete and stand out while competing against those two, three, even four years older than them. While some may struggle to get up to speed, others have a way of flourishing, making impressive plays and looking experienced well beyond their years.

One other freshman that caught my eye at the four-team Thanksgiving Classic was Forest Hills Central’s Mike Timmer.

Just one assist through the team’s first three games of the season, but if you’re noticing some of these high-level freshmen making plays at the varsity level, it’s rarely about their stat lines. More often, it’s their size or ability to skate, a surprisingly heavy shot or an aggressive motor. For Timmer, it was his ability to skate. The ‘09 forward is undersized for this level, listed at just 5-foot-4 and 125 lbs. But he has a very good stride and smooth on his edges, not to mention his awareness and patience with the puck. 

Timmer collected a puck on the half-wall with his back to the net against Clarkston. Instead of blindly rushing to get rid of it under pressure and throwing a puck north or south down the boards, Timmer turned square to the net. He surveyed the ice, assessed his options and found an open teammate on the short-side post, creating a scoring opportunity. 

Similarly, Seth Sandstrom exuded that same poise and promise in a game against Lake Orion last weekend for Marquette. Close in stature to Timmer, Sandstrom is just 5-foot-6 and looks light on his skates. Yet, his puck skills are incredible and his skating ability is undeniable. Sandstrom was patient with the puck, smooth under pressure and then impacted the game from Marquette’s third line. 

Upper Peninsula teams — Houghton, Marquette, Calumet, Escanaba — are no strangers to having impactful freshmen on their teams. The Eskymos’ starting goaltender last season, Cully Hayes, was just a freshman. His Class of 2026 teammates Nolan Bink and Graham Johnson were two of the top five leading scorers on the team. Not to mention some of the four-year players to play for the Copper Kings like Dean and Brent Loukus. Hell, Sandstrom’s ability at such a young age reminded me a lot of a young Cam Markham, who scored 10 goals and 19 points as a freshman for the Gremlins. 

There’s a lot of exceptional, young prospects in Michigan high school hockey. Top-end juniors and seniors typically tend to get much of the shine, but finding and identifying some of those young impact players is something I particularly enjoy. Even like Utica Ford Unified’s Jake Sheridan, who unofficially leads all freshmen in scoring with four goals and six points through the first two weeks of the season.

Takeaways From The Four-Team Thanksgiving Invitational

Hartland hockey hosted a four-team Thanksgiving Invitational over the weekend, set to emulate college hockey’s Great Lakes Invitational. The Eagles welcomed fellow KLAA foe Brighton, as well as Clarkston and Forest Hills Central. Three of the four participants rank among my Top 10 teams, with FHC also being in my preseason Top 25. 

Two of the four games were decided by just one goal, both coming down to a shootout. The other two games were 3-1 and 1-0 heading into the final period as well. With plenty of competitive action, I had a few key takeaways on all four participating programs:

1. Brighton

Looked to be the most complete team at the Thanksgiving Invitational. Cam Duffany was the most dominant player of the weekend. Not to mention, his line mate Lane Petit earned tournament MVP honors. Charlie Burchfield’s line with Aiden Seiter and Freddie Londo had a nice edge to them. Highly aggressive and applied a ton of pressure on the forecheck. I don’t know that the defensive group has one stud that anchors their efforts from the back end. But the collective unit is effective, moves pucks and limits the opponent’s opportunities.  

2. Hartland

They looked sloppy and out of sync quite often. Zigging when others zagged, bobbling pucks and just missing the mark at times. Despite all that, Hartland still found itself in a tie game with Brighton at the end of regulation. They’re a very talented bunch, and I think a lot of the details will get cleaned up as the season wears on. Ian Kastamo is exceptional up front. I thought L.J. Sabala had a real nice weekend as well. I’m a big Brady Hubenschmidt fan too, and the Eagles have no shortage of options in net either. A ton of talent and very deep; Hartland will only get better from here. 

3. Clarkston

Their top line of Ronnie Wade, Owen Croston and Kyle Lynch is as good as anyone in the state. As a matter of fact, Wade and Croston will get a ton of the headlines and attention this season but Lynch is the real freakin’ deal too! He played center with the dynamic duo on each of his wings, meaning Lynch had to do a lot of dirty work and play a full 200 feet. He’s a nice skater and sneaky smooth with the puck on his stick. It was good to see him get rewarded with a goal late in the FHC game. The line of Frank Stanek, Gavin Anderson and Eric Wade was a nice change of pace as well, with an aggressive, in your face presence that pestered the opponent.

4. Forest Hills Central

Two things: First, being fourth out of this group is not a bad thing. The Rangers are tough to play against, clog shooting lanes and block a ton of shots. I love this team’s identity. Secondly, they’re just young and it showed against this level of competition. A bad call didn’t go their way or a tough bounce of the puck, and the frustration was evident. Weekends like this against talented opponents will hopefully be a learning experience that they can grow from and get better down the line. There’s a ton of young, skilled guys on this team; Gibson Grendel, Ben Mielock, Mike Timmer, Eli Lipke, Jack Pierczynski, Rocco Gonzalez are all underclassmen!

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