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January 15, 2013

MAC-OAA Showcase embarks on fourth season, Feb. 2 in Rochester

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

As the NHL labor mess carried into early January, forcing the cancelation of everything from the Winter Classic to nightly games downtown, finding a day dedicated to winter’s most frozen sport became somewhat of a challenge for hockey fans near and far.

Teams, coaches and players in the Oakland Activities Association and Macomb Area Conference have just the remedy for fans still looking to get back into the swing of things.

On Feb. 2, the two conferences are set to collide in their annual MAC-OAA Showcase.

“It’d been tough to find much hockey for a few months,” Berkley-Ferndale coach Jeff Fleming said with a laugh. “This offers that, though. It’s a great day for any hockey fan.”

“This really is a great way to get these kids showcased,” St. Clair Shores United coach and MAC President Russ DiCristofaro said. “You see a lot of good, talented hockey players, and this is one of the best ways to expose them to scouts.”

DiCristofaro said last year’s event welcomed at least a dozen scouts that he knew of.

In all, 15 games are scheduled, starting first thing in the morning and running well into the night at the Rochester Onyx.

“It’s a great event for both conferences,” Fleming added. “We have the whole day to get together and play against one another. … It’s pretty special.”

Exact schedules were not available at press time.

Each league will rank its teams one through 15. Rankings will come from United States High School Hockey Online, following the third week in January.

The top-ranked team in the MAC will face the No. 1-ranked team out of the OAA. The No. 2-ranked teams will face off, and so on.

“There are always some great matchups,” said Fleming, whose team was seeded fourth a year ago and lost to Marysville High 4-2.

“We try to get the best teams against one another,” DiCristofaro said. “If a scheduled game features teams that have already played that year, for example, we’ll make a minor change. But all-in-all, there’s some great games to be had.”

The Showcase also brings about the yearly battle for bragging rights.

“This isn’t like the (college football) bowl season or anything, where you are pulling for Big Ten schools to win it all, but you like to see the teams in your conference be successful,” Fleming said.

In the first three years, the OAA has owned bragging rights.

In 2010, Oakland County teams finished with a 7-4-3 record, followed by a 9-4-2 mark in 2011 and a 7-4-4 finish last winter.

In should be noted, though, that in the top-seven seeded games last year, the MAC went unbeaten at 3-0-4.

“I hope this is the year we take that next step, but I don’t think we all look at it that closely, to be honest,” DiCristofaro said. “We like to see MAC teams do well, but the No. 1 reason we’re all here is to get these kids playing in front of people and maybe assist them in getting to the next level in their hockey careers.”

DiCristofaro said tickets for the Showcase are $5.

For a complete schedule, with times and specific rink locations, go to www.machockey.com and click on the Showcase link.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.