Top 100 Names to Know in Michigan High School Hockey
November 16, 2023
Of all the content I’ve ever produced in my life — blogs, interviews, videos, documentaries, podcasts, infographics — nothing has proved to be more important to you, the people, than this. It is far and away the most discussed topic I get when I come across coaches, players, parents and scouts. There’s also no single piece of content that has required more time, effort and commitment than the Top 100 Names to Know in Michigan High School Hockey. And that’s saying something!
Days at the rinks, hours watching film, calls, emails and text exchanges with various coaches around the state. I put in a lot of work to compile a list of 100-plus players, but not to be right. No, no, nooooo. In fact, I’ll be the first to admit, I get a good amount wrong when it comes to slotting prospects in the order I see fit.
Don’t dismiss my efforts, though. Let me remind you, seven of the top 10 players from the inaugural list in ‘19-20 played Tier-II junior hockey or higher. Three of them currently play NCAA Division-I, one plays Division-III and one playing in the OHL this season. The second edition in ‘20-21 included 29 prospects that played Tier-II junior, or Junior-B hockey and above. Not to mention a slew of players that went on to skate for various ACHA programs across the country. This list has included both Mr. Hockey Award winners, and 11 of the 12 Dream Team nominations over that span.
My criteria for the list, in some order is as follows:
- Experience: A player who has previously played in high school hockey.
- Ability: On-ice skill set, offensive production and defensive responsibilities.
- Accomplishments: Not just stat lines, but statewide accolades and recognition.
- Potential: A players’ capability of playing beyond high school hockey.
- Impact: How important the player is to their respective team.
The 100 Names to Know is meant to invoke healthy conversation and constructive debate. Ignite discussions between coaches and scouts alike in a space previously void of any form of player watchlists, rankings or evaluations. I can’t tell you the amount of feedback I’ve gotten over the years from scouts inquiring about prospects, coaches lobbying for players, and families appreciative of the publicity. The impact it’s had on high school hockey is more than I ever could’ve imagined and it’s truly humbling. So, without further adieu, here is my 2023-24 Top 100 Names to Know in Michigan High School Hockey.
Michael Bontrager, Sault Ste. Marie Senior Goalie
Tanner Flachs, Houghton Senior Forward/Defenseman
Jacob Scharrett, Utica Eisenhower Senior Forward
Gavin Mulcahy, South Lyon Unified Senior Forward
Bryton Thaxton, Gaylord Junior Forward
Ryan Siler, Hudsonville Senior Goalie
Gage Maxfield, Tawas Junior Forward
Nate Bloom, Birmingham Unified Senior Forward
Tyler Tindall, Reeths-Puffer Junior Forward
Derek Ryberg, Lake Orion Senior Forward
100. Tim Hinkle, White Lake Lakeland Senior Forward
Top 5 in the state in assists last season with 42, Hinkle’s play-making ways will have to continue for the Eagles to replicate their 23-win campaign in ‘22-23.
99. Nate Kelly, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard Senior Goalie
Undefeated with a 7-0-0 record in shared duties last season. Likely to take the reigns in net for an Irish squad that’s made a habit out of winning a lot of games under coach Clint Robert.
98. Will Barrett, Trenton Senior Forward
A team void of a top scoring threat at the moment, Barrett and his 17 goals from a season ago could step into a leadership role offensively for the do-it-all prospect that played forward and D last season.
97. Jack Krupinski, Livonia United Senior Forward
A ‘double-double’ guy for Churchill last season with 12 goals and 11 assists. Krupinski will play an integral role for the Livonia Red Stallions in their first season as a co-op program.
96. Gary Stacy, University Liggett Junior Forward
A point-per-game guy for the Knights as a sophomore, Stacy’s likely to step into an even larger role as an offensive leader for Liggett in the Metro League.
95. Brycen Smith, Port Huron Northern Senior Forward
Scored 34 points last season playing in the toughest league in Michigan high school hockey. The Huskies struggled a bit in ‘22-23 winning just five games, but Smith factored in on almost 60 percent of the team’s offense.
94. Cameron Eichner, Salem Junior Defenseman
Scrappy, efficient and effective. Eichner’s style of play fits Salem’s M-O to a tee. Twenty-two of his 27 points came in the final 16 games last season, as things started to click for him as a sophomore.
93. Kallen Ray, Traverse City West Junior Defenseman
The Titans improve on their nine wins from a season ago, and Ray on the back end will have a lot to do with that. He recorded a point in eight of those victories as a sophomore, fueling the TC West offense.
92. Karsen Kucharski, Ann Arbor Huron Senior Forward
A four-year player for the River Rats, Kucharski has been through all the ups and downs the program’s experienced in recent years. His 30 goals and 42 points from a season ago put both him and Huron in a great spot.
91. Graham Johnson, Escanaba Sophomore Forward
Nine multi-point games as a freshman, and the Eskymos may lean on him even more to produce offense this season. The U.P. is loaded with top-level underclassmen, and Johnson is definitely in the mix.
90. Brendan Kelly, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Senior Forward
Thirteen of his 19 points last season came before Christmas. If the Eaglets are to have the success I think they’re capable of having in ‘23-24, they’ll need consistency from Kelly all season long.
89. Luke Webster, Chelsea Junior Goalie
Finished in the top 10 in the state last season with 15 wins. Few active goalies in Michigan high school hockey have as many victories (18) as Webster, and he’s only halfway through his career.
88. Cayden Stasienko, Portage Junior Forward
Led the Muskies in goals with 20 as a sophomore, Stasienko is a talented finisher. Record six points in limited action for Team Green in the MDHL this fall, and is definitely a prospect on the rise in West Michigan.
87. Colton Fuqua, De La Salle Senior Forward
A pretty balanced offense last season with eight guys in double figures. Fuqua put up 11 goals and 16 assists, recording a point in nine of the team’s final 10 games of the season. I think he starts ‘23-24 the way he ended his junior year, taking over the Pilots offensive attack.
86. Connor Vissotski, Northville Senior Forward
Only played 12 games due to an injury, but still managed to score seven goals in short order. He’s healthy, the Mustangs are primed for success this season, and I expect Vissotski to be a big reason why.
85. Gabe Armstrong, Novi Senior Forward
He finished top five in the KLAA in goals last season with 19 in 23 games as a junior. Three of those on the power play and two short-handed, Armstrong does it all for the Wildcats. He looks to score 10 or more goals for a third consecutive season.
84. Zachary Jaakkola, Lumen Christi Junior Goalie
Played every minute of the season in ‘22-23 for the Titans as a sophomore. May have even been the best goalie in the SCHL in the process, with a .910 save percentage and 2.15 goals-against average. He’s got pretty good athleticism as well.
83. Todd Kilpela, Hancock Sophomore Defenseman
Carried a ton of responsibility for the Bulldogs last season as a freshman, leading the D group in minutes and quarterbacking the top power-play unit. Kilpela will play an even larger role moving forward, if that’s even possible.
82. Dan Brady, Lumen Christi Senior Defenseman
Big-bodied defender who’s tough to get around for attacking forwards. He’s extremely productive as well, with nine goals and 29 points last season. He finished junior year with a point in 15 of the last 16 games.
81. Charlie Hoekstra, East Grand Rapids Senior Forward
Pretty quiet during the team’s state finals run with just one goal during the playoffs. However, Hoekstra factored into the offense in eight of the Pioneers’ 10 regular-season wins, and he’ll likely play an even larger role in his final season.
80. Cole Lefere, Northville Senior Forward
An important part of coach Ryan Ossenmacher’s rebuilding efforts, Lefere will be leaned on quite a bit. Not just offensively, but as a leader in the locker room too. Had 17 points in his first season of high school hockey, and may double that total this winter.
79. Ryan Rainey, Riverview Gabriel Richard Senior Goalie
He’s got 32 career wins under his belt with the Pioneers. The team has out-scored opponents 224-111 in that span, but after graduating much of its offense, I think they’ll need Rainey to steal a bunch of low-scoring games for them this season.
78. Fisher Gurney, Grosse Ile Senior Defenseman
One of the highest scoring players on the blue line last season, Gurney recorded a point in all but three games for the Red Devils. That included six multi-goal games in the process and he may top those numbers in his final season.
77. Karsen Patel, Salem Junior Forward
Put together five consecutive multi-point games last season. However, Patel’s production went quiet at times as well. I think a matured and prepared Patel puts together a much more consistent ‘23-24 campaign.
76. Chad Pietila, Howell Sophomore Defenseman
The Highlanders leaned on him a crazy amount for it being his rookie season in’ 22-23. Pietila was obviously up to the challenge, finishing as one of the highest scoring freshman in the state, and likely takes on an even larger workload moving forward.
75. Josh Hooper, Grand Rapids Christian Junior Forward
Led the Eagles in scoring with 40 points as a sophomore. Hooper factored in on 43.9 percent of the team’s offense, and that number may only increase moving forward. Not only that, but he was a top performer this fall on the MDHL’s Team Green.
74. Braylen Outwater, GRCC Senior Forward
The Cougars are 19-5-0 when Outwater gets on the score sheet. GRCC is deeper this season, so Outwater may not need to carry the water as much, but still expect him to produce in bunches.
73. Jack Miller, Allen Park Junior Goalie
Rode the highs and lows of a tough season in ‘22-23 for a pretty young Jags team. Miller made 40 or more saves eight times as a sophomore. I don’t think he’ll quite be under siege as much this season, but he’s seen plenty of game experience to weather any storm ahead.
72. Brendan Brothers, Riverview Gabriel Richard Senior Defenseman
A big, strong prospect on the back end. Brothers will be the anchor for a Pioneers team that graduated half of their roster last spring. He’ll have to be stout defensively and maybe even contribute offensively for RGR to have success.
71. Benton Rajala, Jeffers Junior Forward
A speedy skater with a finishing touch. Rajala can produce against anyone on the schedule. He’s got 39 points at the halfway point of his career, and if Rajala can develop his puck skills a bit, he could round out into a real nice prospect.
70. Jaxon Stone, Reeths-Puffer Senior Forward
Stone scores in bunches, with 16 multi-point games last season. It was against one of the weaker schedules in the state, but even in the MDHL this fall, he scored three goals and nine points as a top producer for Team Green.
69. Kevin Dolney, Chippewa Valley United Junior Forward
Plays with speed on the wing. Dolney uses that asset to create time and space for his other valuable asset; a heavy shot release. Chip Valley will need him to take a huge step in his development to fill the void of graduating its top four scorers from ‘22-23.
68. Max Tyler, Cap City Senior Forward
A real nice top speed, and over the course of his three years with the Caps, has become an effective two-way center. Tyler scored 23 points in an abbreviated junior season, and has a goal scorer’s touch with 31 career goals.
67. Gunnar Weber, Bay City Senior Forward
Right place, right time, all too often. If it happens once or twice, it’s a nice coincidence. When it happens as much as it does for Weber, it’s a unique skill. No other active player in high school hockey has more goals (66) or points (119) than the four-year forward for Bay City.
66. Blake Woodrel, Saline Senior Forward
A good F3 on the forecheck who reads the play as it unfolds in front of him. Woodrel waits for you to make a mistake and then capitalizes on it in a hurry. Eighteen goals and 48 points last season, finishing fourth in the SEC in scoring as a junior.
65. Cade Katlin, Howell Senior Forward
A point-per-game guy for the Highlanders last season. Katlin recorded points in 11 games as a junior, eight of them being multi-point outings, as he anchored the Howell back end at both ends of the rink.
64. Michael Horton, Cranbrook Senior Forward
A good-sized skater with a nose for the net. Horton drives the paint hard on line rushes and puts himself in a position to clean up the garbage. Led the Cranes in scoring with 13 goals and 32 points while playing the 17th toughest schedule in the state.
63. Cam Anderson, Calumet Senior Defenseman
Produced in some of the Copper Kings’ toughest matchups last season. Anderson led Calumet in scoring from the blue line with 12 goals and 19 points, with half of them coming against Top-25 teams.
62. Andrew Lindsay, Brother Rice Senior Forward
A secondary option on last season’s Division-II state championship squad, Lindsay steps into a primary scoring role now as a senior. Picked up a point in four of Rice’s five playoff games, and will look to start this season as hot as he ended last season.
61. Brandon Meyers, Traverse City West Senior Forward
Meyers is a pretty thick kid who’s heavy on the puck. Showed good jump and a high compete level in the MDHL this fall. Was a 20-and-20 guy for the Titans as a junior, and if they’re to win the Big North like I suspect, those numbers may increase in ‘23-24.
60. Brandon Davila, Chelsea Senior Forward
The Bulldogs graduated a pair of generational talents last spring, and will lean on Davila to fill that void moving forward. He’s a fantastic effort guy; you’ll never question him on a backcheck. A 16-game point streak last season and 88 career points aren’t bad either.
59. Scotty Millman, East Grand Rapids Senior Forward
A 200-foot center who works hard. Millman’s a smart player who generated 10 goals and 25 points during the Pioneers’ run to a Division-III state final. He’s reached double digits in points in all three seasons of varsity hockey; a rare feat for a four-year letterman.
58. Cole Kelly, Marquette Junior Goalie
Kelly maintains a sub-2.00 goals-against average through 17 games in his high school career. He propelled Marquette to wins over Houghton, U of D, Brighton, Bay Reps and Saginaw Heritage — all ranked among Top-25 teams by season’s end.
57. Ben Mielock, Forest Hills Central Sophomore Forward
There was only a handful of freshmen last season who averaged a point per game, Mielock being one of them. He produced five multi-goal games as a rookie, and after the fall season he had with MHA, there won’t be a sophomore slump. BIG year for Mielock and the Rangers.
56. Noah Miklos, Trenton Senior Goalie
With the rich history that Trenton has, I can’t imagine there’s many goalies who have been three-year starters for the program like Miklos. He’s made 37 career appearances with a goals-against average around 2.00 and save percentage north of 90.0 percent.
55. Derek Buchanan, Livonia Stevenson Senior Forward
Posted a 16-game point streak for a Stevenson team that played the fourth-hardest schedule in the state. Buchanan enters the ‘23-24 campaign on a five-game heater as well. The Spartans will rely on the right-handed forward to get hot and stay hot in his final season.
54. Bryant Lee, Houghton Senior Goalie
The Gremlins offense outscored opponents 3-to-1 last season, making Lee’s job in net relatively stress-free. May be called upon a bit more in ‘23-24, but with 28 wins on his resume and a 90.0 save percentage, Lee will be ready for a heavier workload.
53. Cade Pratt, Byron Center Senior Forward
A smart set-up man who has a knack for finding open teammates. Pratt has 27 career multi-point games, including his high school hockey debut in 2021. I expect him to continue scoring in bunches in an even bigger role for the Bulldogs.
52. Logan Spykerman, Forest Hills Northern-Eastern Senior Defenseman
Good offensive senses and makes plays from the blue line. Whether he opens up lanes for himself or finds open teammates, Spykerman does a nice job of walking the line and creating opportunities.
51. Aiden Seiter, Brighton Senior Defenseman
Of all the Bulldogs’ returners this season, Seiter may stand to see the biggest boost to his role on the team. He was already Brighton’s No. 2 defenseman as a junior with 18 points. May double that total if things go the way many expect it to for this team.
50. Bryce Hanner, Hancock Senior Forward
The Bulldogs’ leading scorer last season, Hanner put together nine multi-point games. Hancock has a 19-5-0 record all-time when he gets on the score sheet; if they can develop some secondary options around him, it’ll open up even more opportunities for the talented forward.
49. Nick Dunphey, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard Senior Forward
A secondary scoring option for the Irish last season that put up 43 points. The top two scorers from ‘22-23 have since graduated, opening up an opportunity for Dunphey to take control of this offense, having scored a goal in 12 of his last 13 games already.
48. Joel Eskola, Howell Senior Forward
Eskola was called upon in all three phases of the game last season for Howell. He scored 14 goals and 34 points, and while it’s hard to imagine him playing a larger role than what he already did, I think the Highlanders will rely on him to really lead the charge on a nightly basis.
47. Trent Goheen, Grand Rapids Catholic Central Senior Goalie
He was 16-6-0 in 22 starts for the Cougars last season. Goheen’s 44 appearances may be the most among active Michigan high school hockey goalies, and he’s done so with a sub-2.00 goals-against average against a consistently tough OKC schedule.
46. Johnny Kunz, Brother Rice Senior Defenseman
Anchored the Warriors’ blue line en route to a Division-II state title last season. May not have to log as many minutes as his junior year, with the defensive group being as experienced as it is. Kunz is capable of a heavy defensive workload though, and produces offense in the process as well.
45. Owen Hall, Livonia Stevenson Junior Forward
Puck hound! Hall has a high motor and competes his ass off on the forecheck. Missed 11 games for the Spartans last season but still managed to score 11 goals and 20 points in an abbreviated slate. Give him a full schedule, and watch Hall annihilate opposing breakouts.
44. Andrew Burny, Flint Powers Junior Defenseman
A real solid frame with decent footwork. He maintains a good gap throughout the rink and puts himself in a position to jump passing lanes routinely. The Chargers graduated four of six defensemen, leaving a large void for Burny to fill as a seasoned junior.
43. Nolan Bink, Escanaba Sophomore Forward
If he’s not the top forward in the U.P. this season, he will be soon. Crazy to say that about an ‘07 right now, but Bink scored 20 goals and 38 points last season — most among freshmen — and led the team in power-play points with 12. His role is only going to get bigger from here.
42. Keegan James, De La Salle Senior Forward
James tallied a point in all but one of De La Salle’s 12 wins last season. He proved to be a point-per-game guy as a junior when all was said and done, and will likely be called upon once again to lead the Pilots offensive production.
41. Ian MacKeigan, East Grand Rapids Senior Forward
The Pioneers’ most balanced forward, effective in all three zones as a center. MacKeigan was second on the team in scoring, and was arguably the most impactful player during the team’s state finals run. He factored in on eight of EGR’s 18 playoff goals.
40. Josh Granowicz, Detroit Catholic Central Senior Forward
The look of a well-rounded athlete, Granowicz has a quick first step towards the net and a knack for finding the soft areas of the rink. Scored 18 points in 12 games this fall in the MDHL; likely to be a better indicator of his production this season than his two-point total as a junior.
39. Luca DiGirolamo, Hartland Junior Defenseman
High risk, high reward style of play, being pretty aggressive from the back end. Maintains a really tight gap, clamping down in the offensive zone. It can keep opponents hemmed in but also expose himself to odd-man rushes. DiGirolamo will find that balance with experience, as Hartland looks for him to take on a larger role this winter.
38. Trey Damian, Clarkston Junior Defenseman
There aren’t many — if any — defenders on this list that I’d label flashy, except Damian. He can be dynamic with the puck on his stick and razzle dazzle in ways not many can from the blue line. Damian’s got 17 career points in two seasons for Clarkston, in a position to have his best outing yet.
37. Jack Micus, Grand Rapids Christian Junior Defenseman
Nine of his 13 points in ‘22-23 came in the final six weeks of the season. Micus started to ‘get it’ towards the end of his sophomore year. That rolled over into being a top defender for Team Green in the MDHL this fall. He’s a long defender that opponents will struggle getting around on the rush.
36. Sebastiano Iavasile, Detroit Catholic Central Senior Forward
I haven’t seen many players in my time visibly grow in front of my eyes every time they touch the ice the way Iavasile does. His development and growth was on full display this fall in the MDHL, getting better with every shift. Fifteen points a season ago, and he will likely double that for the Shamrocks as a senior.
35. Drew L’Esperance, Hartland Junior Forward
A really big body for being an ‘07, L’Esperance handles pucks very well. Coupling both of those skill sets together, he’s able to navigate through traffic while maintaining possession of the puck. The left-shot forward produced 10 points last season, and will be depended on to produce much more than that this winter.
34. Charlie Price, M-1 United Junior Forward
A really, really good center at the high school level. He works hard, is positionally sound and very responsible. Led the Griffins in scoring as a sophomore and has 62 career points, despite still being an underclassman. If this list was based on sheer character, he may be No. 1 out of this group.
33. Andrew Parmentier, Flint Powers Junior Forward
The Chargers’ highest-scoring returner left after graduating 11 in the spring. Parmentier scored four goals and 19 points as a sophomore but may be expected to produce much more than that as Powers looks to replace a ton of offense.
32. Kyle Kavc, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Senior Forward
He scored 15 of his 19 points in the final seven weeks of last season. The Eaglets haven’t a player produce more than 24 points in a season since ‘19-20, but Kavc may break that drought as he steps into a leadership role on and off the ice this winter.
31. Owen Turner, Saginaw Heritage Senior Defenseman
Plays with an attitude, and gets up and down with good speed too. What I really like is his vision and ability to find teammates during neutral zone regroups. Turner also has the awareness to jump into the play and be an option as well, scoring 18 goals and 40 points a season ago.
30. Brady Snyder, Hartland Junior Defenseman
Snyder has decent size with a deceptively long reach. Defensively, he does a nice job of influencing and disrupting attackers off the rush. Not known for his offense, with just four career points. However, the Eagles don’t need him to be a high-volume producer so long as he remains a shut-down defender.
29. Levi Pennala, Brighton Senior Goalie
Back-to-back double-digit-win seasons while playing the most difficult schedule among public schools in the state. No other active goalie in the state has the experience that Pennala does between the pipes at the varsity. Could reach the 40-win plateau in his career this season, which is insane considering the level of competition he faces nightly.
28. Jackson Froysland, Byron Center Senior Forward
Carries the longest active point streak in the state into ‘23-24, getting on the score sheet in 15 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 14th. Froysland scored 24 goals and 61 points last season, second only to some guy currently playing in the NAHL, Logan Nickolaus.
27. Evan Adams, Clarkston Senior Defenseman
Adams is a very steady defender that can hold his own at any pace of play. He stays engaged and active during extended time in the D-zone. He also holds good gaps in a track meet up and down the ice. The right-shot ‘05 scored seven goals and 30 points a season ago.
26. Mateo Iadipaolo, Saline Senior Forward
The straw that stirs the drink for the Hornets. Iadipaolo is three points shy of the century mark in his four-year career, and has a chance to post back-to-back-to-back 40-point seasons. Much of that production stems from his relentless effort on the forecheck and a motor that just does not stop.
25. Henry Balasia, U of D Jesuit Senior Defenseman
Hasn’t scored a goal since Jan. 11, 2022, of his sophomore season. Not everything here is about production though, especially for defensemen. Balasia proved to be one of the best defenders for MHA this fall, and his ability to prevent others from producing is an undervalued skill in today’s game.
24. Turner England, Brother Rice Senior Goalie
England is a very athletic goaltender, with good footwork and lateral movements. He went 7-4-0 with a 1.64 goals-against average and 90.0 save percentage in a secondary role last season. He loves to compete and looks to take charge of the net, as the Warriors defend their title as Division-II state champs.
23. Gibson Grendel, Forest Hills Central Junior Defenseman
He has the potential to be a very dynamic, high-end prospect on his current development path. Grendel converted from forward to D last season, and it served him extremely well with an increase in puck touches and opportunities to make plays with the game on his stick.
22. Will Keane, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Junior Goalie
Some say he has the potential to be the best goaltender in the state, given his size, athleticism and natural ability. Crazy to think about, considering Keane has made just three starts in his varsity career but he was clearly MHA’s best goalie this fall. I’m buying the hype on a young, talented prospect.
21. Carson Cagigal, Stoney Creek Senior Forward
Really good footwork and a nose for the net. Cagigal missed one-third of his junior season but still managed to produce 30 points in 20 games. He’s a high effort, great energy guy who battles on the forecheck and surprises opposing defenders with his speed.
20. Andrew Atala, Detroit Catholic Central
I just love the way he plays. His skill set, the plays he makes with and without the puck. He’s got good instincts and is quick to react to the play unfolding. Just one point for the Shamrocks a season ago, but a top producer in the MDHL this fall. Speaks to just how deep DCC is as a program.
19. Paul Therriault, U of D Jesuit Senior Forward
After spending last season playing AAA hockey for the Nashville Jr. Predators, Therriault returns to Michigan high school hockey, likely to make an immediate impact for a deep Cubs team. He’s a good skater who’s strong on his stick, and just makes smart plays with and without the puck.
18. Clay Spencer, Detroit Country Day Senior Forward
Spencer is hungry for pucks and works hard to chase them down. He maintains that speed even after gaining possession, and makes himself a real threat to attack the net at all times. Led the Yellowjackets in scoring last season with 29 goals and 45 points, and will likely lead them again this winter.
17. Carter Cate, U of D Jesuit Senior Forward
He’s got a high hockey IQ and a really good understanding for the game. Backchecks to the net defensively, very active physically and maintains an active stick. Quite simply, I would not want to play against Carter Cate. Hard to contain him offensively and even harder to avoid his defensive efforts.
16. Roman Cicco, Cranbrook Senior Defenseman
A very fluid defenseman, and maybe one of the smoothest in the Class of 2024. Everything Cicco does is in rhythm and on cue, footwork and hands in sync as he collects pucks and moves them to open guys in all three zones. Fifteen points a season ago, but it’s not really about what he does for me, but how he does it.
15. Nolan Berner, Flint Powers Senior Defenseman
There’s not much left for Berner to accomplish in his high school career. State champion last winter, Team Michigan in the spring and 53 career points to his name in three seasons. It’s no accident, he’s a fantastic skater, smart with the puck and extremely effective. Powers may need him to have his best year yet.
14. Ethan Coleman, Bay Reps Senior Forward
I wouldn’t call Coleman a pretty player, but he is highly effective and makes a lot of good things happen. He had 43 points a season ago, and a natural ability to just find the back of the net by going where goals are scored — the front of the net. Reps have a lot of mouths to feed offensively, but I’m sure Coleman will get his this season.
13. Ronnie Wade, Clarkston Junior Forward
‘Unique’ is the only word I can use to describe Wade because I don’t know that there’s anyone on this list like him. He’s really good in tight spaces, lifting sticks and picking pucks, then turning it up in the open ice and getting north quick. A true playmaker who led the Wolves in scoring as a sophomore with 59 points.
12. Ian Kastamo, Hartland Junior Forward
Kastamo is special in the sense that he can find open space without the puck while also creating room to operate with it on his stick. That helped him produce 33 points last season, and his ability to make those plays will only make him — and those around him — better in the long run.
11. Thomas Boynton-Fisher, Bay Reps Senior Forward
Spent last season in Arizona playing AAA hockey for the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes. Before that though, he led the Bay Reps in scoring as a sophomore with 30 points in 27 games. He’s got size, plays with an edge and can make skill plays when needed. Boynton-Fisher is capable of a big season if he can put it all together.
10. Brayden Lewis, Mattawan Junior Forward
Loved this kid at the MDHL Showcase. He flashed another gear that few have at the high school level; an ability to attack and operate with great speed. Not to mention, Lewis is creative offensively, attacking the offensive zone with scissor plays and slashes to the net. Just a good understanding of how to use his skill set to create opportunities.
9. Connor Raffaelli, Houghton Senior Defenseman
A small puck mover on the back end, Raffaelli keeps the game simple and good things happen because of it. He was the Gremlins’ top D-man a season ago, averaging a point per game and has 54 career points entering his fourth season of high school hockey.
8. Grant Lucas, Bay Reps Senior Forward
Lucas was the Reps’ leading scorer last winter with 32 goals and 49 points. He’s the finisher among the group of talented forwards in Traverse City, and he always seems to be involved in the play. The team is 16-1-0 when Lucas scores and 2-6-2 when he doesn’t. As many weapons as the Reps have this season, I’m not sure any directly correlate to wins and losses like Lucas does.
7. Nash Riipi, Marquette Senior Forward
Just a solid all-around forward who’s strong in all three facets of the game. Riipi has real good size too, solid on the puck and strong on his feet. Marquette was deep last season rolling four lines, yet Riipi still scored 18 goals and 33 points. The team will have plenty of depth yet again, but I expect Riipi to be even better.
6. Mikey Maillette, Houghton Senior Forward
Maillette creates a ton of chances on offense. Towards the end of last season, he really started to make good on those opportunities, to the tune of 20 goals after holiday break. I expect him to pick up where he left off, have a huge senior season and be one of the top goal scorers in the state.
5. Graham Newton, Ann Arbor Skyline Senior Defenseman
Really pay attention to this kid when he plays, and appreciate the subtleties of his game. Newton is quick, not in the sense that he’s fast, but his first stride or two in any direction is crisp. He handles pucks without overdoing it and pushes the backend without exposing himself to risks. Oh, and he produces, with 42 points last season and nine points in the MDHL this fall.
4. Lane Petit, Brighton Senior Forward
He’s the key to the Bulldogs’ success this season, in my opinion. Petit does the little things a team needs in order for big things to happen. He works hard on a forecheck, creates scrums along the walls, wins puck battles, forces turnovers and hits open guys with a clean pass. Not to mention, 53 goals and 92 career points at Brighton.
3. Cam Duffany, Brighton Senior Forward
He’s capable of things offensively that I don’t think anyone else in Michigan high school hockey can do this season. Duffany is an uber-talented goal scorer — a finisher — who always seems to have the puck on his stick with the game on the line. Not just triple overtime in the Division-I state quarterfinal, but also on a random Wednesday night in a one-goal game at the MDHL Showcase. The moment just seems to find him.
2. Jackson Walsh, Detroit Catholic Central Forward
Looked like a man amongst boys for much of the MDHL season this fall. He makes plays at top speed, creating opportunities not just for himself but his teammates. Walsh can razzle dazzle with skill plays and just overwhelm opponents with brute force as well. After producing 39 points as a junior, it’s hard to imagine him being even better than that, but he is.
1. Owen Croston, Clarkston Senior Forward
Every time I watched him, every shift, he did something to grab my attention. First it’s Croston’s size, north of 6-feet tall. Then, it’s his straight line speed, quick bursts and swift changes in direction. Plus, his power and strength in battles around the boards and in front of the net. Croston makes something happen every time he’s on the ice and he does it at top speed, making his presence felt and impacting the play constantly.
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