Skill level at all-time high at MIHL Prep Showcase

By: Mike Moore | C&G Newspapers | Published February 4, 2014

Local hockey squads in action

The 2014 MIHL Prep Showcase is set for Feb. 6-8 at the Kennedy Recreation Center in Trenton.

The annual event, now in its 14th season, will welcome in 42 teams from across Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and Ontario, Canada.

Plenty of C & G squads are included in the mix.

Here’s a quick look at the teams we cover that are slated to appear. For a complete schedule, featuring game times, dates and specific rink location, visit and click on the Prep Showcase tab.

• Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day
• Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood
• Birmingham Brother Rice
• Macomb Dakota
• Warren De La Salle
• Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett
• Grosse Pointe North
• Grosse Pointe South
• Utica Eisenhower
• Farmington Hills Unified
• Orchard Lake St. Mary’s
• Rochester United

METRO DETROIT — He was asked how this spectacle seems to grow bigger and better every single winter.

And with a laugh, Andy Weidenbach inserted a touch of modesty.

“I don’t know if we’ve necessarily gotten bigger every time, in volume or is the number of teams,” the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League President said of the annual Prep Showcase. “But when you look at the quality of teams, the skill level of the players, the interest from scouts, we do find ways to get better. The quality does seem to improve.”

And so it goes for the state’s most prestigious showcase, set to kick off Feb. 6 at the Kennedy Recreation Center in Trenton.

The three-day event will host 42 squads from across Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and Ontario, Canada.

“To be able to expand outside the state has been awesome,” said Weidenbach, who also coaches Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood, a 17-0-0 team ranked No. 1 in Division 3 at press time. “Teams get the chance to play others they wouldn’t on a normal basis, and the environment is unlike anything else.”

Weidenbach estimated last year’s spectator count at roughly 10,000 for the three days.

But it’s the eyes of scouts that matter the most.

In last year’s event, more than 85 scouts were on hand, including a representative from every United States Hockey League and North American Hockey League team, several collegiate programs and even 11 NHL teams.

“The convenience of having this many teams and this many players in one spot is key,” said Pat Carmichael, a scout for the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets who resides in Northville and coached at Beverly Hills Country Day in the 1980s. “A showcase like this provides (scouts) the opportunity to see this many players at the high school level.”

So what does an NHL scout try to take away from a high school showcase?

“You start by looking at the hockey sense of a player,” Carmichael added. “Are they kids that understand how to play the game, how to anticipate and play without the puck? Then you want to gauge skill package, size and strengths, a little bit of everything.”

Craig Sarner, a scout with the Odessa Jackalopes of the NAHL, estimated 15-20 players earn junior-level recruitment based on the event every year.

“Maybe it’s your first look at a kid and you schedule a second trip to see him again on a later date. Or, maybe you’ve heard of him and you want to see again at the showcase,” said Sarner, who has attended the last seven years. “To have that many teams compressed in one spot is exactly what you want. We’re here looking for kids who can play at the next level.”

“The (Showcase) is a very well-organized event and provides an excellent evaluation opportunity for college hockey programs across the country to identify prospects,” Michigan State University coach Tom Anastos said in a press release. “It’s an event that we look forward to attending every year.”

All 10 MIHL teams are participating in the event, along with select independent teams, teams from the Oakland Activities Association, Macomb Area Conference and Michigan Metro Conference, among others.

Adult tickets are available at the door for $6 for a single-day pass or $10 for a weekend pass.

Seniors and students can purchase $5 day passes or an $8 weekend pass.

Active duty military personnel and their families will receive free admission with their uniform or military identification.

The first games begin at 5:20 p.m. Feb. 6, with the final puck drop scheduled for 6:40 p.m. on Feb. 8.