Wednesday Night Rivalry in Michigan High School Hockey

Craig Peterson

November 21, 2023

It’s a huge night of rivalries in Michigan high school hockey! I can think of no better way to highlight some of these matchups than by breaking each one of them down and offering up my picks. Everyone knows about the intensity between DCC and Brother Rice, but what about De La Salle and Utica Eisenhower? Let me tell you about Saline and Pioneer, a rivalry I lived for the last few seasons! How about the unique backstory behind Plymouth and Canton? Tons of great matchups steeped in history with tons to talk about, so let’s get into it. 

Portage vs. Mattawan
7:30pm at Wings West

May be the biggest rivalry in the South Central Hockey League (SCHL). Mattawan has played a Portage school on Thanksgiving Eve going back several years. When Northern merged with Portage Central in 2020, Mattawan was able to take on two birds with one stone before the holidays and put the co-op in that slot on the schedule.

Brayden Lewis couldn’t quite find space to produce in Mattawan’s opening game against West Ottawa. I think this is a spot for him to get on the board and factor into the game against Portage. The Muskies will likely look to do the same with their top threat in Cayden Stasienko. Feels like last change could play a major factor in this one, exposing matchups and getting your go-to guy in favorable situations. For that reason, I’m gonna go with Stasienko and the Muskies to edge out Mattawan in a close one.

Petey’s Pick: Portage

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De La Salle vs. Utica Eisenhower
7:30pm at Suburban Ice Macomb

I don’t know the origins of this one, would love to know more. However, De La Salle and Utica Eisenhower have taken to the ice on the eve of Thanksgiving every year for at least the last 11 years, minus the COVID-shortened ‘20-21 season. In 10 games, it’s an even 5-5 split, but DLS has won three of the last four, and their 7-1 win in 2021 is the largest margin of victory in the rivalry on record. Other than that game, though, the series has been really competitive.

Ike comes into this one riding a bit of a momentum wave, after defeating Stoney Creek 5-4 in overtime over the weekend. Sawyer Hotchkiss came through with the game on the line, and Dominic Riggio added a three-point night to the mix as well. I’m gonna take the Eagles to pull a surprising upset over a good MIHL team, 5-4.

Petey’s Pick: Utica Eisenhower

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Saline vs. Ann Arbor Pioneer
7:30pm at Ann Arbor Ice Cube

I witnessed this rivalry first-hand for the last few seasons. It’s your typical ‘I don’t like them, and they don’t like me’ rivalry. Pioneer once won six straight meetings between 2019 and 2022, but the Hornets have won the last three matchups, including a playoff elimination game and back-to-back mercies. 

Many of the same suspects from last season’s matchup are back for Saline, and guys like Mateo Iadipaolo, Blake Woodrel and Aidan Rumohr will likely once again play a major factor in this rivalry. Not to mention, Tyler Schroeder in net is a huge advantage as well. I like Pioneer to keep it much closer than the previous two meetings, even getting on the board and scoring early. But ultimately, Saline’s returners are too much for the Pioneers, 5-2 final.

Petey’s Pick: Saline

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Brighton vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s
7pm at Kensington Valley Ice House

Two state powers who’s rivalry includes multiple playoff elimination games. From 2016 to 2019, Brighton and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s ended one another’s seasons in Division-I playoff matchups. Now, none of the players on the current rosters were around to experience any of that heartbreak or triumph in this rivalry, but the history certainly remains.

The Bulldogs have a ton of scoring threats. Cam Duffany and Lane Petit are dynamic. Charlie Burchfield is a big body that can wear down defenders. Marek Alent is in that same vein as well; he got going offensively last week with a pair of goals. I just think Brighton can score from multiple forward lines in a variety of ways. This will also be Orchard Lake’s season opener, which seems like a really tough ask, even if you do have junior Will Keane in net.

Bulldogs win 4-1.

Petey’s Pick: Brighton

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Plymouth vs. Canton
7:30pm at Plymouth Cultural Center

People outside of Southeast Michigan don’t realize how unique this rivalry is and the dynamic of Plymouth, Canton and Salem High Schools. They’re sitting next to each other in third-hour Chem class and then lining up opposite each other in the face-off dot later that night. You’re classmates, but also opponents. And, Wednesday’s matchup is the only meeting on the schedule this season, so winners will hang on to bragging rights in the hallways for a long time. Plymouth holds a 15-3-0 advantage over the past 11 seasons, but I’ve seen Canton steal games from both the Wildcats and Salem in spots I completely counted them out in. The Chiefs may keep it close and interesting, but ultimately, the favorite gets it done.

Petey’s Pick: Plymouth

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Novi vs. Northville
7:30pm at Novi Ice Arena

The Mustangs have won the Thanksgiving Eve matchup for a fifth consecutive time in 2022, but Novi evened the season series with a 4-1 win lat February. And, since 2018, this rivalry has been dead even in terms of wins. In the last 21 meetings, six have been decided by one goal, seven games decided by two goals and five coming down to three goals. When Novi and Northville take the ice, throw the records out the window, because it’s proved out to be a close game every time. The Wildcats burned me last week when I picked against ‘em, but I like Northville too much this season to doubt them in a rivalry game. Go Mustangs!

Petey’s Pick: Northville

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Rochester United vs. Stoney Creek
5:30pm at Suburban Ice Rochester

Stoney Creek is so salty about this rivalry right now that Vaughn Putz referred to Wednesday’s opponent as ‘those guys over there.’ He’s got reason to be a little angry. The Cougars have lost eight of the last 10 meetings, and while they’re slated to play again in February, this matchup is the most important one because it’s the next one. And I like Stoney Creek in this spot a lot. Carson Cagigal and Christian Gojcaj are a nice one-two punch up front. Not to mention Tyler Burns is the team’s current leading scorer with six points from the blue line. Eight different goal scorers in total for Stoney Creek. I like their top end. I like their depth. I like both to trump RU’s advantage in goal. Cougars in a high-scoring 5-4 type game.

Petey’s Pick: Stoney Creek

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Detroit Catholic Central vs. Rice

8pm at USA Hockey Arena

It’s the granddaddy of them all! There is no rivalry in Michigan high school hockey bigger than the rivalry between Detroit Catholic Central and Brother Rice.

While it is the biggest, it has been quite lopsided lately — as has everything been involving CC lately. The Shamrocks have won seven of the last nine meetings, and while they’re slated to meet again later in the season, the Thanksgiving Eve matchup has proved to be an important one. Each of the last three seasons, the winner on this particular Wednesday has gone on to win the rematch as well. 

We saw the rise of junior forward Roman Villaire last week, as he put up a five-point game against Marquette. I expect him to develop into a very reliable source of offense for Rice, alongside Aidan Agbay and Andrew Lindsay. However, they’ll need a lot more firepower than that to keep pace with CC’s talented offense. If Rice wins, it’s gonna be 2-1 type. If CC wins, it’s because they scored four-plus goals and Rice just couldn’t keep up. Knowing how good and how deep the Shamrocks are with options like Jackson Walsh, Brooks Rogowski and Nolan Galda, at every level. CC wins 5-2.

Petey’s Pick: Detroit Catholic Central

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