Utica Eisenhower’s Bryce Chomiak, left, works through a drill with Evan Doan at a Jan. 7 practice at Suburban Ice Macomb. At press time, the Eagles were 5-5 overall.

Utica Eisenhower’s Bryce Chomiak, left, works through a drill with Evan Doan at a Jan. 7 practice at Suburban Ice Macomb. At press time, the Eagles were 5-5 overall.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Eisenhower hockey looking to do damage in the playoffs

By: Jacob Herbert | C&G Newspapers | Published January 13, 2020


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Utica Eisenhower hockey coach Robert Hall thinks his team will be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time.

Last season, the Eagles drew Rochester United in the first round of the Division 1 playoffs. United beat the Eagles 3-0 before advancing as far as the state semifinals.

Hall believes his team could be this year’s Rochester United. At press time, the Eagles were 5-5 overall.

“Come playoffs, teams aren’t going to want to play us. I’m confident in that this year,” the coach said prior to a team practice at Suburban Ice Macomb. “We have the makeup to do some damage if everything goes right.”

Ike has plenty of on-ice strengths needed to compete in the postseason: its offensive depth and speed being the most prominent.

At press time, Jason Geiger led the team in scoring with 14 points (4 goals, 10 assists) in 10 games played. Following Geiger were Jack Hammond with 11 points (7G, 4A) and Param Vyas with 11 points (6G, 5A).

Hall said the Eagles don’t have one standout goal scorer, but everyone has the ability to contribute across all four lines.

Perhaps Ike’s greatest strength comes with something that starts off the ice.

“Every kid out here is a brother; every kid out here is a son to us,” Hall said. “That’s what the program is about.”

So far this season, the Eagles have taken trips to play teams far away from home. During the weekend of Dec. 13-14, Eisenhower traveled to the Upper Peninsula for games against Calumet High and 2019 D-3 state runner-up Houghton High.

The purpose of those games was not only a bonding experience, but to learn what it takes to compete with some of the best in the state.

“They’re basically like playoff games,” Hammond said. “The Ppper Peninsula teams, they play completely differently than we do. They’re hard-nosed and they’re not afraid to hit. It’s not pretty; they just try to get to the puck, and that’s playoff hockey.”

The team traveled to the west side of the state Jan. 3-4 for a pair of games with Grandville High and Jenison High in Hudsonville. After falling to Grandville 2-1, Ike bounced back and beat Jenison 3-1 the next day.

Senior forward Justin Heileg said the players feel more comfortable with one another after these kinds of trips.

“It was a good way to meet all the new guys, and all the upcoming sophomores and juniors that I haven’t met yet,” he said. “I got to know them a lot better, I would say.”

Geiger, who is a senior on the team this year, gave insight as to how these bonding trips translate to on-ice success.

“When you get close with your team, you trust them more and you trust that they’re going to be there for you out on the ice too,” he said. “Those trips help out a lot.”

When hockey regionals get started Feb. 24, the Eagles will again play in a regional tournament that includes Rochester United along with Macomb Dakota, Macomb L’Anse Creuse North, Port Huron High and Utica Ford United.

Hall hopes the team will hit its stride at that time, and the closeness of the team can go a long way in making sure that happens.