Macomb CountyNovember 19, 2012
Realignment, rebuilding projects highlight MAC hockey season
By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Staff Writer
Macomb Area Conference hockey is going through some changes this season.
Not only have the conference’s three division realigned, but coaches around the MAC say the league must rebound in terms of attracting players of all levels to fill out the rosters.
Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse coach Wayne Tollon said there are plenty of hockey players in his community, but many strictly play travel. Making things tougher is that he lost 10 of his 21 players to graduation two seasons ago, and he’s still trying to replace those veterans.
Tollon isn’t alone when it comes to new faces. St. Clair Shores United coach Russ DiCristofaro is working in 12 first-year players, and Warren Mott coach Rob Pommaville said he only has two seniors on his roster.
“The league isn’t what it used to be, but we’re working hard to get back to where it was a few years ago,” Utica Stevenson coach Alan Korolewicz said. “There’s been a lot of roster turnover and some teams have folded (Utica Ford II dropped its team prior to the start of the 2011-12 season), but we’re trying to get things right.”
Teams across the MAC began play Nov. 12. The playoffs begin with regional tournaments, slated for Feb. 25-March 2. The state finals in three divisions will be played March 9 at Compuware Arena in Plymouth.
Here is a division-by-division breakdown of the MAC, with details on the league’s realignment for the next two years.
The league is more balanced than last season, as each division features five teams. In 2011-12, the MAC Red and White had six teams, respectively, while the Blue fielded just three squads.
Dakota returns as division champ; the Cougars went 8-1-1 in league play to win their first division title since the 2008-09 season.
Utica Eisenhower (7-1-2) finished second, with the Shores United team coming in third at 6-1-3. St. Clair High placed fourth in the Red at 3-6-1.
Marysville High joins the Red after going 10-0-0, winning the White last season.
“Ike, Dakota and (St. Clair Shores United) are the teams that can play with anyone in the state,” Korolewicz said. “That’s not to say other teams in our league can’t, but those three are the cream of the crop in the MAC.”
“(Ike and Dakota) seem to always get the top players, and more than a few,” Pommaville said. “The other programs usually have one or two really good kids, but (Ike and Dakota) usually just reload.”
With Marysville now in the Red, a new champion will be crowned in the White.
Macomb L’Anse Creuse North (5-5-0) finished second in the White last season and will look to take over the league. Romeo High (4-5-1) hopes to improve on its fourth-place finish.
New to the White are Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse, Utica High and Utica Stevenson. The Lancers (4-2-0) finished second in the Blue last season; the Chieftains went 2-7-1 in finishing fifth in the Red last season; the Titans come to the White after going 0-10-0 in the Red in 2011-12.
“The White has been so hard to predict in recent years, and I think that’ll be the case again this year,” Korolewicz said.
The Blue adds two teams after fielding just three last season.
Defending division champ Fraser High (5-1-0) looks to hold on to its crown, while Warren Mott (0-6-0) hopes to rebound from a down year.
New to the Blue are Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, Port Huron High and Anchor Bay. All three teams were members of the White last season.
The Big Reds have their sights set on improving their 4-5-0 record in league play from a year ago, as do Port Huron (3-6-1) and Anchor Bay (3-7-0).
Pommaville is hopeful for success this season but said it’d be tough to thrive with such a small roster. The Marauders’ coach said his team is comprised of 13 skaters and two goalies, meaning staying healthy will be vital for Mott.
“It’s definitely going to be tough for us, but we’re going to fight,” Pommaville said.
For more information on MAC hockey, check www.machockey.com.