By @MichaelCaples –
With the Michigan high school hockey season underway, the 2017 edition of the Michigan Hockey Advancement has come to a close – with plenty of accolades for the players who participated.
In Year 4 of the MHA program, the 18U team won two tournaments and finished with an undefeated record in another. Meanwhile, the 16U team posted a winning record skating against some of the best teams in North America.
“We are incredibly proud of how our players did this fall,” said Total Package Hockey director Brandon Naurato. “These guys come together to skate with players who they will soon be competing against, but, in a testament to their character, they form the bond with their new teammates necessary to have success on the ice.
“We had an outstanding fall, and it’s all because of the players in those two locker rooms.”
The 18U team finished with championships at the Bauer Motown Cup and the Honeybaked Compuware Invitaitonal, as well as an undefeated finish at the Beantown Classic (tiebreakers prevented them from continuing in the tournament). Ranked No. 17 nationally for all Midget Major programs, they compiled a 17-1-3 record during the fall campaign.
The 18U team finished with the No. 1 goal-differential in the country. They were led by Gabe Potyk (Lake Orion, 17 goals), Josh Albring (Hartland, 23 assists) and Brendan West (Detroit Catholic Central, 34 points) on the scoresheet. Notable wins came against Little Caesars, No. 12-ranked Compuware and No. 9-ranked SkipJacks Hockey Club.
“A complete team buy in is what we had with this group,” said MHA coach Rick Gadwa. “On paper, you’re estimating where the team’s going to finish in 21 games – you probably wouldn’t think only one loss. Not a shot at the team, just credit to their ability to play as a unit and their success this fall.”
The 16U team finished with a 12-8 record, including a semifinal finish at the Honeybaked Compuware Invitational and a second-place finish in the Bauer Motown Cup. The goal of the 16U program is to get the players acclimated with MHA program so that they can have success with the 18U team in their upperclassmen seasons.
Gadwa said the overall success of the MHA is a statement about the success of high school hockey in Michigan.
“There’s a group of 20 of some of your best MHSAA players competing against the country’s best to offer at the 18U AAA level, and a 17-1-3 record doesn’t lie,” Gadwa said. “Those are hard facts about where our high school players are at. Credit to the individual player, individual teams, individual coaches – they got them here, and we put it together as a program.”
The goal of the MHA is to help the players prepare for their upcoming high school season while helping them gain more exposure for their hockey careers.
“Between the exposure they get at the Top 80 Showcase and the scouts they are able to play in front of at these tournaments, we’re helping these guys be seen by junior and college teams,” Naurato said. “High school hockey in Michigan has a bunch of great players, and we want them to have as many opportunities as possible to advance to the next level.”