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West Bloomfield, Walled Lake

February 19, 2014

Top-three ranked teams in D-1 all in same regional round

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Evan Root and the West Bloomfield High squad will have their hands full in their first playoff game. The Lakers face Bloomfield Hills High or Stoney Creek in a 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 regional semifinal at the Rochester ONYX.

In a little more than two weeks, the best hockey teams in the state will converge on Plymouth’s Compuware Sports Arena for the final weekend of the 2014 postseason in all three divisions.

Then again, some of the state’s best team’s will be ousted by each other beginning next week, most notably at the Division 1 Novi Detroit Catholic Central regional round.

It’s a grouping of heavyweights, with Catholic Central, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and Birmingham Brother Rice, which are ranked as the top three teams, respectively, in D-1 all in the same bracket.

“The politically correct thing to say is that you’re going to have to play these teams anyway, but really, I don’t understand why (the MHSAA) does it this way,” Rice coach Lou Schmidt Jr. said of grouping so many of the state’s top programs together. “It is what it is, though. I think we’d prefer a different structure, where playing teams like Catholic Central or St. Mary’s is something you do later in the tournament. But it is what it is.”

Things get going at 5:45 p.m. Feb. 24 when St. Mary’s opens the playoffs against Waterford Mott at home.

Rice faces the winner at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26, at St. Mary’s.

In the other half of the bracket, Catholic Central opens against South Lyon High at 5:45 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Novi Ice Arena.

Northville High and Farmington Hills Unified play directly afterward.

The two winners meet at 7:15 p.m. Feb. 27 at Novi in the regional semi.

The regional final is set for 12:30 p.m. March 1 at Compuware.

“It’s a very unique situation, and we don’t have a say in it,” Schmidt added about the regional pairings. “But these are games we prepare for all year. They are going to be great games against teams that know each other and play hard against each other. Catholic Central is probably the team to beat. We stack up well with St. Mary’s, if we face them. I think any of us have a good chance to make it out of here.”

In D-2 regional action
West Bloomfield High is in the Rochester Hills Stoney Creek regional.

The Lakers drew a bye in the opening round and face Stoney or Bloomfield Hills High in a 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 semifinal at the Rochester ONYX.

“It’s going to have to be our best game of the season, no matter who we play,” West Bloomfield coach Joe Chagnon said. The Lakers closed the regular season against Bloomfield Hills after press time. “I always find it interesting. I mean, you can have a tough season and still make something happen in playoffs.”

The Lakers were 3-18-0.

“Our players have been so good, better than I imagined, about hitting the reset button when they get to the rink every day,” Chagnon said. “That’s what we have to do here. This is a very persistent group that gets right back at it, no matter what.”

Stoney was 14-6-1, while Bloomfield Hills was 9-11-4.

In the D-2 Hartland High regional, Walled Lake Central (5-17-1) and Walled Lake Western (8-11-2) square off to open the playoffs at 7 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Novi Ice Arena.

The winner faces Novi High (14-6-1) at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at Novi.

In the other half of the bracket, Walled Lake Northern (9-8-2) faces Hartland High (13-3-1) at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Hartland Sports Center.

The winner faces Lakeland (12-5-2) at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at Hartland.

The regional final is set for 5:45 p.m. March 1 at Hartland.

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