Prep hockey: CAAC teams begin games next week

Prep hockey: CAAC teams begin games next week

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Prep hockey: CAAC teams begin games next week

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CAPITAL AREA ACTIVITIES CONFERENCE

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Jackson Lumen Christi, 2. Jackson United, 3. Okemos, 4. Eastside, 5. DeWitt/St. Johns, 6. Grand Ledge/Fowlerville, 7. Holt, 8. Capital Area

NOTE: Some teams will take part in scrimmages this weekend, and regular season games begin next week.

CAPITAL AREA PATRIOTS

(Lansing Catholic, Mason, Charlotte, Lansing Christian)

Last season: 0-14 (8th place)

Coach: Don Richards (second season)

Returning starters: Brendan Martin (jr. F), Connor Weissenborn (sr. F), Nick Sampson (jr. F)

Outlook: With only six of last years players returning, the Patriots will have a lot of new faces, mostly freshmen and sophomores. Like other teams in the CAAC, the Patriots rely on athletes from multiple schools to fill their roster as overall involvement in high school hockey continues to decline in the greater Lansing area. Martin, Weissenborn and Sampson will help provide important leadership to a team looking to improve.

DEWITT/ST. JOHNS

Last season: 9-4-1 (3rd place)

Coach: Matt Schooley (first season)

Returning starters: Josh Tempelman (jr. G), Chris Carey (sr. F), Tom Havlichek (sr. F), Kyle Zuker (sr. F), Adam Boynton (sr. D), Trevor Kelly (sr. D), Adam Costello (sr. F)

Other contributors: Connor Mekinnon (jr. D), Mitchell Thomas (so. F), Kalen Schody (sr. F), Matt Beechum (sr. F)

Outlook: DeWitt/St. Johns lost a good portion of their scorers to graduation. However, with second team all-state netminder Tempelman and a solid group of returning starters, they should be competitive against the top teams in the CAAC.

EASTSIDE STARS

(Williamston, Haslett, East Lansing, Bath)

Last season: 6-6-1 (6th place)

Coach: Scott Crilly (fourth season)

Returning starters: Patrick O’Donnell (sr. D), Mike Flegal (sr. D), Ryan Tyrer (sr. F), Sam Rathbun (sr. F), Riley Nichols (sr. F), Jacob Schrote (sr. D), Joe Barnard (sr. G), Andy Petersmark (jr. F)

Other contributors: TQ Hoban (jr. F), Theodor Nilsson (sr. F)

Outlook: The Stars will have depth this year with seven seniors bringing experience to every position. Newcomer Nilsson, an exchange student from Sweden, will add even more depth and talent to an Eastside team that should contend with defending champion Lumen Christi and Jackson United for the league title this year.

GRAND LEDGE/FOWLERVILLE

Last season: 2-12 (7th place)

Coach: Brian Clifford (10th season)

Returning starters: Adam Epstein (sr. D), Alec Faggion (sr. D), Cam Evans (jr. F)

Other contributors: Wade Huggett (jr. D), Alex Montrose (fr. D), Peyton Stiles (so. D)

Outlook: Formerly partnered with Waverly, the new Grand Ledge/Fowlerville team is young and will be looking to improve as the season goes on. All-league defenseman Epstein, a senior from Waverly who got special permission to stay with the team, and senior defenseman Faggion will anchor the squad from the blue line.

HOLT

Last season: 7-5-1 (4th place)

Coach: Jon Gilbert (first season)

Returning starters: Erick Sundstrom (sr. D), Nick Gilbert (jr. F), Zach Carey (sr. G) Jason Daman (sr. F), Zeke Thompson (jr. F)

Other contributors: Kyle Prinkalns (sr. D)

Outlook: The Rams have a short bench this year, but they have a strong core of players. With all-league goaltender Carey, all-league center Daman and all-league defenseman Sundstrom, the Rams could surprise some teams. Prinkalns joins the team fom the Triple A ranks and will add depth on defense.

OKEMOS

Last season: 6-6-2 (5th place)

Coach: Bill Sipola (17th season)

Returning starters: Austin Holden (sr. G), Tristan Eggenberger (sr. F), Matt Luberto (sr. F), Cam Meyer (sr. F), Nick Green (jr. D), Dereck Tubben (sr. D)

Other contributors: Mark Luoma (so. F), Collin Hanson (sr. D), Kyle Nussdorfer (sr. D)

Outlook: Despite losing their top two players to graduation, the Chiefs are favored to contend for a top spot in the CAAC with all-league forwards Eggenberger and Luberto leading the way. The Chiefs will also be tough defensively thanks in large part to all-leaguers Green and Tubben. Coach Sipola expects his returners to step up and mature quickly if they’re to make a run at the league title.

– compiled by Matt Boivin

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